View from the classroom

8th July 2005 at 01:00
"It's about giving pupils options and promoting their ideas of storytelling," says Nathan Peel. "All pupils have ideas even if they struggle with reading; so it's about building up their confidence."

His headteacher at St Michael and St John's, one of the BoosterBooks pilot schools, is Vincent Murray, who is a strong supporter of the method.

"The children were very proud to show their book at the end of it. It gives them belief in themselves," says Murray.

"Imagine a cookery lesson where a teacher presents a cake and then asks children what ingredients have gone into it. Then imagine how much more interesting and effective as a learning exercise it must be if the teacher says: 'We are going to make a cake, what ingredients would you like to put in it?' That is the BoosterBooks principle."

BoosterBooks is intended for groups of four children withdrawn during the literacy hour every day for five weeks. Pupils and teacher work as a team to generate ideas for a story leading to a professional, illustrated publication.

The set time is deliberate. Nayler believes specialist tuition that carries on for too long can be damaging to children's confidence.

They are given strategies for spelling and writing, and are motivated by their own need to be creative. Nayler says children have been known to make up to 12 months' progress in the five weeks working on a book - and that they remain motivated.

Nayler acknowledges that many schools cannot afford to withdraw teachers to be with small groups for one hour every day, so she is offering training for teaching assistants.

"It is ideal for teachers who may not want to work full-time but would be interested to go into schools for specific periods and purposes. It is also ideal for schools seeking to balance budgets, but needing extra support for groups of children."

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