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Raring to read

Like many schools across the country, we run a paired-reading scheme.

It involves Year 10 pupils listening to Year 7s read at registration time twice a week. When I started the scheme six years ago, I struggled to find enough partners.

Now, however, the scheme is becoming so much a part of the college ethos that I have Year 9 pupils asking me when they can "apply" to become a listener. They can't wait to get involved.

One reason for its success is its high status in the school. The pupils are given training in how to help and encourage reading. They are made to feel important, as I try to find ways to acknowledge their efforts wherever possible.

Many use the scheme for the service section of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and their time is acknowledged by Active Citizens in Schools (ACIS).

Earlier this year, Year 7 boys nominated their male partners as Reading Champions - a scheme run by Read On, the National Reading Campaign. They gave up their own time to complete the nomination forms and presented the certificates and badges in Year 10 assembly.

Wherever possible, I pair boys with boys. When I started I only had one Year 10 boy involved, whereas today more than a third are boys. When the pairs get together they also talk about their interests and build a rapport. This was evident in the assembly. I thought the Year 7s would feel intimidated in front of 240 older pupils, but they spoke confidently and thanked them for their help and support.

We have taken paired-reading a step further this year. We had the local education authority literacy consultant in school to train pupils to be coaches for the Reading Challenge, part of the materials issued to go with the key stage 3 intervention strategy. It seemed a natural progression to a scheme we already offered.

The pupils were taken off timetable for the morning for intensive training -plus doughnuts and hot chocolate! The feedback was positive and the volunteers are now raring to go.

Nikki Parker Senco, Sawston Village College, Cambridgeshire

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