How has this impacted on your leadership learning?

I have developed my understanding of how reading attitudes develop and what strategies practitioners can use to promote positive reading habits. Being able to develop and undertake interviews has definitely been a rewarding and interesting experience. I have been surprised at how similar my colleagues ideas around my topic of interest and my interviews revealed a real passion for ensuring we provide the best for our  pupils. I don’t know if my understanding of the term ‘teacher leadership’ has changed during my participation but I am definitely more empowered and more motivated than I have ever been in my teacher career. My aim initially had been to measure the impact of various reading interventions upon pupil’s attainment and attitudes but this became undoable due to Covid-19 so I think this could be something to take further next session, now that I have examined practitioner attitudes and strategies.

There has definitely been an impact upon professional practice within my setting with changes to timetable to include regularly scheduled reading for pleasure times, incorporation of HOTS questioning within set reading books and development of a reading order. Recently, I have also applied to undertake further research in association with the EIS which I wouldn’t have considered prior to participation in this programme.

What are the implications?

Participation within this programme and practitioner enquiry has greatly informed my practice moving forward. Firstly it has really made me think and made my colleagues think about what we do to promote positive reading attitudes in our students, many of whom tend to have fairly negative viewpoints on reading. I am making steps to promote reading within my setting by developing a reading area, improving quantity and diversity of reading materials available and by asking colleagues to model their reading attitudes – by sharing what they are reading and scheduling a reading time within the base.

The implications for this learning may lead to the development of a system where practitioners are able to promote reading to children attending and hopefully help these children to improve their confidence reading, develop more positive attitudes towards reading and develop a reading habit/routine. Reading is often seen as a gateway to learning and so by experiencing success at reading and gaining pleasure from reading, children can widen their view of the world, gain knowledge, develop creativity and imaginative skills and have fun doing so. The development of positive reading habits within the inclusion base may filter back into the children’s mainstream classrooms and positively impact upon other children.

What has happened and what are your next steps?

My question, “what strategies can inclusion practitioners use to support the development of positive reading attitudes in children attending an inclusion base?” hasn’t been fully answered yet. I think I could probably do more digging, more reading around this question as well as possibly looking further afield at both mainstream settings and also inclusion bases/learning centres across Scotland. I have learned that my colleagues apply a range of strategies to promote reading attitudes and some themes have emerged through the process of interviewing my colleagues.

I have been surprised that there were so many similarities across staff at the two inclusion bases which I focused on and that so many colleagues were willing to give up their time in order to be interviewed. I definitely went into this inquiry expecting my colleagues to have the view that younger children have more positive reading attitudes but that hasn’t been the case. I think there has been an impact upon both inclusion bases, with the development of designated reading areas in both and also with staff really examining what they do and what could be developed further. I don’t feel the wider school community has been impacted yet as inclusion base is kept very separate at the moment due to Covid-19 restrictions. I’m currently working on developing the reading area within my base and have recently expanded our reading selection, particularly to cater for younger readers. My next steps are to look into obtaining a wider selection of books including material aimed at struggling readers who are upper primary, as ensuring material is age appropriate was a real concern of several colleagues.

How did Covid-19 affect your plan?

Prior to Covid-19, I had never considered that our lives could affected so drastically across Scotland and the rest of the world by a virus. I have always known schools are an essential part of the community and a way of combatting inequity and ensuring that all children are given the opportunity to learn. However, I had never really considered the important role that schools play in ensuring positive mental health in children and the day in day out support network provided by a school in terms of safeguarding and even ensuring that children are fed.

My enquiry was massively affected by Covid-19 in that my setting was completely closed down and has remained so for 12 months (as an inclusion base hosting children from various schools on a part-time basis, it was decided through a process of risk assessment that it could not be reopened until April 2021). With our learners being catered for by their schools, my role became virtually non teaching, instead developing resources, delivering training and supporting wellbeing.

Instead of focusing upon learners’ reading attitudes as planned I adapted my enquiry to focus on colleagues’ opinions towards reading and the strategies that they use (or think have potential) to support children in developing positive reading attitudes. By developing my awareness of what strategies are used, I have begun to implement changes within my own inclusion base which will be of benefit to learners attending including improvements to the selection of books available, creation of a dedicated reading area and timetabling of ‘oh dear’ time (drop everything and read). This work fit with the inclusion base’s SIP and will continue in next year’s session, being more focused upon individual learner’s needs and gauging how best to nurture positive reading attitudes.

What did you plan to do and why?

What was your original plan and why was it important for your context?

Initially I had hoped to focus on whether there was a change in reading attitudes as children moved up the primary stages. This was important within my inclusion role as I work with mainly boys, the majority of whom have negative or ambivalent attitudes towards reading.  The Literacy trust’s 2009 survey found that 68.4% of boys aged 5-8 said they liked reading very much/quite a lot, compared to 83.9% of girls. Personally I consider reading as very much as a gateway towards learning and an integral part of a child’s development.

  • What were the ups your enquiry? It’s important that we focus on the positives – what went well?

I was taken aback at how supportive colleagues were in agreeing to be interviewed in terms of their reading attitudes and how open and honest they were during their interviews. The depth of detail and richness of information was truly amazing. Even during the interviews, as I was taking notes, I was aware that certain phrases that were said really summed up effectively and supported what I was trying to achieve… in the long term to support children to develop positive reading habits.

  • What were the downs of your enquiry? What bumps in the road did you come across and how did you attempt to adapt?

Covid was an issue due to home working and the extended closure of my inclusion base which meant I was unable to go ahead with my intended plan of action. I ended up discussing this problem with colleagues and during a drop in session and ended up deciding to explore the attitudes towards reading held by colleagues in inclusion instead.

Update 3 – March

I have been lucky enough to be participating in the coaching diploma offered through Education Scotland and recently attended a session largely based on the GROW model. Renshaw & Alexander (2008) discuss the GROW model as cyclical rather than linear in nature and this has made me see that professional enquiry is also cyclical rather than linear. My enquiry may not ever be ‘finished’ as such but that’s ok.

Within my enquiry I have now completed all my interviews of colleagues (5) which ranged from 25 minutes to around 50 minutes in length. I have produced transcripts of each interview and checked that it is an accurate account. I was left with a lot of information which in that form was unmanageable so a friend recommended that I look into coding of interview data. This enabled me to reduce the volume of information so that key information and recurring themes can be identified. My timing for completing and producing this information has potentially been an issue and so this needs to be a key focus in the upcoming days.

I do think that producing the poster may be my greatest challenge and I definitely will need to be careful when creating it and being selective with the information used. I am looking forward to the upcoming drop in session in order to hopefully gain some tips with this part.

Update 2 – February

I have been in a fairly unique situation where my enquiry is mainly based on professional dialogue with inclusion colleagues due to issues with my setting being closed due to Covid. Within my enquiry, I have devised a semi-structured interview which I have used to interview colleagues who were willing to participate in my practitioner enquiry. Initially I had hoped to be able to conduct interviews in person but this wasn’t possible due to issues with travelling and mixing. Secondly I had figured that I would use teams for interviews and record these interviews… there was an issue within my local authority with recording teams meetings (potential safeguarding concern) and so I had to record the audio of my interviews using my computer. I have engaged in huge amounts of professional dialogue with colleagues and my manager and my next step is to transcribe my interviews in order to identify common themes.

Update 1 – January

Within professional dialogue/ staff meetings it has become apparent within my setting, practitioners have very different attitudes towards reading in school. Currently there are no opportunities for all the children to read together as a class i.e. a class novel or ERIC time and there are rarely opportunities for children to read together as a reading group due to variety of levels and children from different schools being on different reading schemes, etc. My thinking was towards developing some kind of intervention or developing my reading area/base library. However my base is currently closed and it looks doubtful that it will reopen before Easter. Instead I am hoping to focus instead on exploring my colleagues’ reading attitudes with a view to developing the reading area further during next session. By interviewing colleagues I may be able to explore why we haven’t previously implemented improvements to reading area or implemented story time (at an appropriate level) and this will in turn inform future improvement. As colleagues range in experience (several are secondary based originally and several are primary based) I think there is scope for exploring whether qualifications/experiences will make a different to a teacher’s enthusiasm for promoting reading.

I had been able to chat with Stephanie about this and think I know where I am going next.

My enquiry plan – first draft

 

What’s the problem? Reading attitudes in children involved with inclusion service – i.e. attending an inclusion base.

How are practitioners supporting?

Are there strategies we are not using, which may support.

Negative reading attitudes –> decreased reading attainment –> impact on learning in school, life-long learning, attainment gap, life chances, job opportunities

Many children attending inclusion base have negative experiences of school. Literacy often a trigger for behaviour/refusal. Reading often not viewed positively. Attainment gap, especially following Covid lockdown. Children attending assessment placements – focus on reading, writing and numeracy.

 

NIF – improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy, and closing the attainment gap. This is more important than ever following the predicted widening of the attainment gap due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic (Markowitz, 2020).

One of Dumfries and Galloway council’s priorities is to “Provide the best start in life for all our children” with a further statement to “Raise ambition and attainment, in particular to address inequalities”. The service improvement plan for the inclusion base aims to “provide excellence and equity for pupils through raising attainment in Numeracy and Literacy, by using individualised assessments and to provide smart planning based on assessment results”.

What’s already known? Google scholar, EBSCO – research literature review.

Qualitative approach as focusing upon opinions and beliefs through interviewing colleagues (inclusion practitioners)

How will you know what happened? The aim is to create a bank/toolkit of strategies that are and can be used within an inclusion base setting.

Toolkit will be created through staff interviews on their belief and strategies.

Change will be measured via scaled entry and exit surveys with the children undertaking an inclusion placement (six week placements in the first instance).

Pupil voice collected about which reading strategies are used with them/ what helps promote a love of reading

Implement the idea

What happened? What data did you collect?

Practitioner opinions – strategy bank

Pupil voice – comments, scaled surveys

PM benchmarking – at start and end of placement

What does that tell you?

The strategy bank will help collect and collate a range of strategies we can use to promote positive reading attitudes.

Pupil voice will record what strategies work, surveys will record how effective our strategies are and PM benchmarking will provide tangible quantifiable results on impact upon attainment.

What have you learnt? How are you going to change your practice?

Using a wider range of strategies to help promote reading attitudes.

How will you share? Who:

  • needs to know? – Inclusion practitioners, area team manager, education officer
  • would like to know? – Headteachers, mainstream teachers
  • can also learn from your enquiry? mainstream teacher

 

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