Kent Literacy Award Winner 2020
READING AMBASSADOR SCHEME
We decided that we NEEDED to engage and excite our readers so this initiative was special as we decided to use our Year 6 children and carefully paired them up with a younger reader, aiming for them to forge a relationship based on mutual trust. A contract was signed by the Ambassadors to ensure that the program would occur daily and the ambassadors understood the value of their role and the confidentiality aspect. All of the Ambassadors took their roles very seriously and wore their Ambassador badges with pride. Reading skills, alongside speaking and listening skills, were strengthened daily through their lovely meetings in a book corner of their choice.
Year 6 children who wanted to become an ambassador were interviewed and then trained at lunchtimes in synthetic phonics and how to support a younger child and boost their confidence. Before the scheme began the partners met up for talking sessions; to get to know each other and find out about their interests and their thoughts on books and reading. The scheme was a huge success as the children selected books together and shared books together. There was something special about this scheme being run by children, and as the Ambassadors became more involved in their partners reading, they really wanted them to succeed. They approached the Literacy Leaders to ask if they could reward their partners. They had a genuine desire for their partner to succeed and wanted to help them do so. It was evident that this scheme was a huge success as staff members were constantly praising the Ambassadors and noticing the improvements in reading in their classrooms.
The biggest challenge was time. In a very small school building with split Infant/Junior lunchtimes it was always going to be tricky. Finding time to train up the Ambassadors and finding quiet spaces were our biggest issues, however the Ambassadors themselves helped solve this by speaking to individual teachers and requesting to work in their book corners. Ambassadors were keen to give up their own break time to find appropriate books. Some of the Ambassadors even brought in their old books from home to donate to their partner, further encouraging them to develop a love of stories!
From October until March we noticed a MASSIVE improvement in the interest levels in reading. The younger children began to see themselves as readers and had made a friend in their year 6 partner too who they trusted and felt secure with. Every single child moved up at least one reading book band and the pride on their faces was priceless. We had more and more year 6 pupils wanting to become an Ambassador and more and more younger pupils wanting to be paired up with an Ambassador. This fact alone speaks volumes about the success of the initiative. We had great plans to embark on this further and then... we went into lock down!
I am so proud to say we won first prize in the Kent Literacy Awards 2020. Well done to our amazing Literacy Leaders and our wonderful children.