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Families make the right connection

Liz Owens is not sure whether reading Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves, the best-selling guide to punctuation, counts as relaxation or work for a teacher.

But it is the fourth book which Mrs Owens, head of Charles Dickens primary in Southwark, London, read during the summer holiday. "It's great," she said.

Mrs Owens believes that it is important for everyone at the school to enjoy reading and that children have role models.

She joined the 320-pupil school six years ago, shortly after it was judged to be failing. Now it has been highlighted by the Reading Connects project for its work with families.

Parents are invited to workshops where they can make story-telling resources such as puppets and story tapes. But this is just one of the activities going on.

Mrs Owens said: "We use visual images a lot. About 60 per cent of children speak a language other than English at home, so we start with a picture and create a story from that.

"Each class is involved in an arts and music project each year, which is focused around a book. We put up a lot of displays which include text and the children enjoy reading about their work."

The school's 2003 Office for Standards in Education inspection report praised the enthusiastic attitude of pupils to learning as a significant strength.

"Everything we have done has been to motivate children and we've been very successful in that. It is about making education seem terrific fun," Mrs Owens said.

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