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Ipswich schools sign up to Reading Pledge

The first schools in Ipswich have signed up to a reading pledge as part of the ‘Let’s Talk Reading’ project which is working to improve reading skills across the town.

‘Let’s Talk Reading’ is a partnership project involving Suffolk Libraries, supported by funding from Ipswich Borough Council, local charities and, last year, Suffolk County Council’s ‘Raising the Bar’ programme.

The project has been working with 10 Ipswich schools over the past 15 months on a number of initiatives to improve reading, including developing a Reading Pledge, which commits schools to making reading a top priority for every pupil.

St Helen’s Primary School, Ipswich Academy and The Oaks Primary School have all recently signed up to this Pledge which they now have on display.

The Pledge focuses on four key themes:

  • All children will have the opportunity to become confident and enthusiastic readers
  • Time and space for reading will be given high priority so reading is put at the heart of the curriculum
  • Parents and carers will be supported in reading with their children
  • The school will work with community partners to support parents and carers who struggle with reading themselves.

John Helleur, one of the project’s founders, said: “We are delighted that schools have really got behind ‘Let’s Talk Reading’ and shown their commitment to focus on reading with every pupil. The aim of the Pledge is to help place literacy at the heart of school life, to create a culture where children enjoy and benefit from reading. It is vital that each and every child and young person is able to read well enough to enable them to succeed in school and throughout life. It’s therefore important for us all to work together to support children who struggle to read.”

{% include /c/figure.html caption="The Oaks Primary School – Back row from left to right: Mr Jeremy Pentreath, Joint Headteacher; Miss Katherine Kimble, English Lead; Mrs Rose Palmer, Librarian; Mr Philip Palmer, Joint Headteacher. Front row - Charlotte and Jude." alt="4 teachers and 2 pupils display a certificate" src="/images/article/ltr-the-oaks.jpg" %}

Jeremy Pentreath, Joint Headteacher at The Oaks Primary School, said “The school has made excellent progress this year in reading and the Let’s Talk Reading project will, in the long term, be transformational for our pupils.”

Sarah Merchant, English Lead at St. Helen's Primary School, said: “With the help of ‘Let’s Talk Reading’, we have invested in The Power of Reading programme, which puts reading and language at the heart of our curriculum, further improving oracy, listening skills, confidence and therefore the life chances of young people.”

{% include /c/figure.html caption="St. Helen’s Primary - From left to right: Mrs Julie Long, Reading Advocate and Mrs Sarah Merchant, English Lead." alt="2 teachers in front of a school display board" src="/images/article/ltr-st-helens.jpg" %}

Helen Winn, Principal at Ipswich Academy, said: “Ipswich Academy is proud to have signed the Reading Pledge to confirm its commitment to improving reading skills. We leave no stone unturned to ensure that all of our students are confident and competent readers. With our well-stocked and vibrant library placed in the heart of the academy, reading is at the forefront. From cross-academy shared reading for all students every morning during tutor time to focused reading strategies within lessons, our students are developing a love of literature. Our rapidly improving English language and literature GCSE results are showing that our approach is working well.

“Ipswich Academy is also working with local partners in primary schools and the community to support the improvement of reading for everyone in the local area. As a member of the Let’s Talk Reading project, we are committed to sharing and supporting good practice in Ipswich to secure a better future for the young people in our town.”

{% include /c/figure.html caption="Ipswich Academy - From left to right – back row: Emma Ingate, English Lead; Helen Winn, Principal; students on front row from left to right: Bella, Isobelle and Maisie." alt="3 teachers and 2 pupils in a school library displaying a certificate" src="/images/article/ltr-ipswich-academy.jpg" %}

As well as working directly with schools, Let’s Talk Reading is keen to encourage parents to read with their children every day. It is working with charities and local agencies to engage with parents in ante- and post-natal classes, nurseries, children’s centres and schools to get this key message across to parents.

Where parents themselves struggle with reading, Let’s Talk Reading is also working to set up four adult literacy hubs across Ipswich, where parents and carers can receive free, confidential one-to-one support twice a week over the period it takes to enable them to read confidently.

Last month Ipswich Borough Council’s Area Committees agreed further funding of over £20,000 to support Let’s Talk Reading’s work in early years and adult literacy across the four areas of central, south east, south-west and north-west Ipswich.

Let’s Talk Reading is hoping to announce further partnering initiatives over the next three months.

Schools currently working with ‘Let’s Talk Reading’ are Ipswich Academy, Murrayfield Primary Academy, Piper’s Vale Primary Academy, Chantry Academy, The Oaks Primary School, St. Helen’s Primary School, Cliff Lane Primary School, Whitton Community Primary School, Hillside Primary School, Stoke High School and the Raedwald Trust.