There were three inter-related elements to Northfield Reads, which aimed to develop a reading culture amongst young people in the Northfield area. The project was a collaboration between one of the Arts Edcuation Team’s Cultural Co-ordinators and the School Library Resource Centre Co-ordinator.
The project involved Northfield Academy in Aberdeen and five primary schools within the Associated School Group (ASG). and focussed on Literacy and Literature.
1. Creation of the right environment
Young people worked with an interior designer to design ‘The Comfort Zone’ within the Northfield school library which they christened ‘Frankie’s Reading Room’. The ‘comfort factor’ is not just about the physical comfort of readers but also ensures there are sufficient alternative reading resources to draw pupils in.
Pupils were consulted on the selection of non-academic reading material for the area and a broad range of reading material was purchased using an ‘Awards for All’ grant, covering different interests outside academic subjects.
The space was also equipped with suitable technologies designed to support pupils’ book reviews, author interviews etc. This IT equipment can stream book trailers, book interviews and book TV sites. As the project develops pupils’ book reviews will be displayed on screen. The purchase of IT equipment was to promote interaction with books within the reading zone.
2. Encouraging reading for pleasure
A series of author visits across the ASG were arranged to encourage pupils to read the work of the visiting author/s (previous author visits have shown a profound impact on the uptake of an author’s work for a prolonged period of time).
Authors delivered a range of activities in Northfield Academy and its associated primary schools during lunchtimes, curriculum time and after school. This approach recognised that many of the targeted young were unlikely to initially engage through choice outwith of lesson time.
The experience of working with authors demystified the work of writers, introduced young people to new reading material and encouraged a more sustained interest in the authors’ work.
- 3. CPD for teachers / librarians on encouraging reluctant readers.
To benefit the wider community, training sessions were organised targeting librarians, teachers, parents, community workers, senior pupils and volunteers. The CPD was designed to develop skills in paired reading and encouraging reluctant readers. Those who participated then employed the skills they had acquired across the Northfield area.
The project involved:
- – 400 pupils accessing author visits
- – 3 teachers from Northfield Academy
- – 6 teachers from the primary schools
- – 50 school librarians and teachers participated in the CPD
The new reading space in the school library that was created as a result of the project is accessible to all 700 pupils in Northfield Academy.
There is a need in the Northfield area for more young people to develop reading as a habit and a pleasure – confidence and interest in reading serves young people in all areas of their lives. While this project had a focus that extended beyond the curriculum and school day, it was designed to have a direct impact on young people’s formal and informal learning.
Currently the reading abilities of young people in the area are low. Approximately 20% of the S1 intake has a reading age 4 or more years below their actual age. The lack of enthusiasm for reading is perpetuated by negative perceptions and a lack of positive role models at home and in the community, is evident through the school’s attainment.
There is significant poverty and deprivation within the Northfield Associated School Group, particularly in parts of Middlefield, Smithfield and the area zoned to Bramble Brae school. For a number of families, educational achievement is not a high priority and aspirations are low. Some of the areas which Northfield Academy serves are ranked in the top 5% of most deprived areas.
The need for some intervention was identified through:
- – knowledge and observation by the school librarian and SEN staff
- – speaking to staff and pupils
- – considering the wider social issues in the area
- – meeting with interested staff
- – Arts Education Team
- – Northfield School Library Resource Centre
- – Northfield Academy
Levels and stages:
- – second and third levels
- – S1 – S3
- – Awards for All
- – Live Literature Funding
- – Aberdeen City Council
For more information contact:
Jacky Hardacre, Cultural Co-ordinator on 01224 814651 or email email@example.com