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TES Schools Awards 2009 - Outstanding literacy initiative

Winner - Ellis Guilford School and Sports College, Nottingham

Literacy is the key to unlocking the secondary curriculum, but nearly 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.

The 11-16 school does more than accelerate their 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 boys who are hard to reach, while gifted and talented pupils tackle the Carnegie Medal book award shortlist. There are competitions, too, such as Reading Champions and a Question of Sport evening, involving the primary feeder schools.

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

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."

Judges' verdict: "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 super ideas and its use of the data book".

They added: "This school is using a very personalised approach and tailoring its strategy to individual students' specific needs. It uses a very wide range of strategies and has established a culture of wider reading for pleasure."

TES Schools Awards 2009:

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