Awards - Winner: Outstanding literacy initiative

16th October 2009 at 01:00
Ellis Guilford School and Sports College, Nottingham

What they did

Almost a fifth of children leaving primary school are below the expected level in reading. In some schools the figure is much higher.

At Ellis Guilford, between 35 and 40 per cent of children entering Year 7 fall into this category. In response to this, the school does more than accelerate pupils' progress: it persuades many of them to read for pleasure. The Learning Resource Centre runs programmes such as Mega Read and Book Cafe that offer personalised help to pupils.

Mad Manga Mondays are designed to appeal to hard-to-reach boys while gifted and talented pupils tackle the Carnegie Medal book award shortlist. The school even took part in an "extreme reading" session where teachers and pupils enjoyed a field trip to read books on top of Pew Tor in Dartmoor.

The school also holds competitions such as Reading Champions and a Question of Sport evening involving all the primary feeder schools. Ofsted said in its last report: "At the heart of all learning is imaginative provision for literacy development, which is central to raising standards throughout the school."

Pupils are monitored and given literacy targets. The number of pupils borrowing books has doubled and all feeder primary schools now have an annual reading for pleasure action plan.

What the judges said

"There is a brilliant range of activities that encourages a really diverse range of routes into reading." They spoke of the school's "sheer energy" and use of data. "This school is using a very personalised approach and tailoring its strategy to individual students' specific needs. It uses a wide range of strategies and has established a culture of wider reading for pleasure," they added.

You could do it too

There are countless literacy initiatives that schools can get involved in - from World Book Day to National Storytelling Week. Other schools in this category tried approaches such as creating a "wall of readers" and a reading council; an internet-based writing project collaborating with schools around the world; changing the timetable to accommodate a new phonics programme and hiring a reading recovery teacher.

About the awards

The TES Schools Awards, or TESSAs, celebrate and reward the professionalism and flair of those teams making an outstanding contribution to primary and secondary schools in the maintained and independent sectors. This year's event attracted hundreds of entries and the panel of judges was impressed by their range and quality. Next year's TESSAs will be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on June 17, 2010 and are open for entries at

Each week we profile one of this year's winners. For more details on entering the 2010 TES Schools Awards visit


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