Feedback from Schools at Phase 2 Training Days
Context and Organisation
In general, sessions are working very well with pupils highly motivated. Some children have asked for more sessions and for Paired Reading during playtime! Even reluctant readers are now more keen to read. Listening skills have improved and children are reading with more expression outwith the Paired Reading sessions. Tutors are very caring and good relationships are developing across different year groups and between sexes. In some cases this has generalised to the playground. The project is building confidence and self-esteem and there is an improvement in behaviour in classes in general. Other staff in schools are supportive of the project and specialist teachers have been flexible about timetabling.
Some teachers feel that they have underestimated the time Paired Reading would take from the normal curriculum, and in some cases sessions are lasting up to 40 minutes, which is too long. There has also been some difficulty in finding the physical space for the sessions in some schools.
There has been excellent support from the Schools' Library Service. Children are enjoying the choice of books and even recommending books to others. The choice of books is perhaps limited at both ends of the spectrum, however. Selection of books by teachers was time consuming, and it was difficult to know what the children would like. Some teacher direction in choice of book has been necessary at times, often due to the tendency of girls to choose fiction all the time. Some children are racing through the books as if this is the aim of the session - there may be a need for more books. Some schools felt there should be some form of reward for tutors in recognition of their positive social behaviour.
Selection and Matching of Children
All children, regardless of ability, have been included in the project. In general, pairs are working well, with only a few needing teacher intervention. Some schools have paired pupils using 5-14 assessments as the basis for estimating reading ability. Due to absence, children have had to adapt to working with different partners. This has made a positive contribution to their social development. Absence and school closure due to bad weather have caused disruption, and it was suggested that the Autumn or Spring terms might have been a better time of year to implement the project.
Most parents are positive and supportive. A few parents, however, have expressed concern that their child may be missing some other aspect of the curriculum due to the project.
Training has been effective, with most pairs needing only an occasional reminder. The training gave the P3 children confidence in the ability of P6 to follow the procedure. Training was more difficult with the less able readers, whereas the more able children picked it up quickly.
Support and Monitoring
The process of Paired Reading leaves the teacher free to monitor the children's interaction. The less able readers need more close monitoring. A few children are finding discussion and praise difficult. Some are getting so involved in reading that they are forgetting to read alone. Pupil monitors are developing social skills and gaining insight into the reading process. Some schools have developed their own recording system (e.g. using stickers), which reflects the school's method of rewarding good work.
Circle Time has been used to find out how the children feel and to sustain their motivation. The project has encouraged communication between peers, and between child and teacher, through discussion of the books.
There was some concern over the validity of the Primary Reading Test and the correlation between it and other methods of assessment used by teachers. The test was too difficult for some less able children, who became anxious. Some of the pictures were too culture specific.
Summary compiled by Angela Bryce, with Stephanie Allan, Julie Horn, Rick Walsh, and Sarah Wyatt
Insch Primary School
"All of our children are very much enjoying the process and obviously feel that they are learning a lot. I've also surveyed their parents and all responses so far are very positive. Thank you for the chance to take part in this."
"The experience of the Paired Reading project has been very worthwhile and we are very grateful that we were able to be included."
Bainsford Primary School
" We found it a very positive experience and fully intend to continue with Paired Reading and Thinking in the Future. Can I thank you for supporting our involvement in this project."
Sunnybank Primary School
"Factual books have been particularly useful in the Paired Reading and Thinking part of the programme, as they generate a tremendous amount of discussion between tutors and tutees. We have found it a very worthwhile experience."
Woodside Primary School
"Staff and pupils have enjoyed being part of the project and have certainly found the experience worthwhile."
"To start with, we were concerned about what the reading tests might show. But when we saw the social gains, we didn't care what the test results said. We know they have improved."
Further feedback from Teachers will be found in the Evaluation section of this website.