Thursday 7 January 2016

" management banned silent reading."


"In my school, in response to an Ofsted where we were told that reading had to feed more into writing, silent reading was changed so that teachers would do guided reading with one group, while the rest of the children worked on doing some work related to the book they were reading, so Instead of reading for pleasure, it was turned into another piece of work, which could never be marked as marking workload is tough enough.

At one point, struggling readers were all in the same group so I tended to avoid free reading due to poor quality of texts and dull, age-inappropriate reading schemes that didn't exactly foster a love of reading. I was told to use a very prescriptive phonics scheme with these children but instead rebelled a little and did lots of whole class reciprocal reading using higher quality texts instead, and worked our phonics into this. I did always find it tricky to encourage a love of reading for struggling readers with such poor resources available, so I used to give free reading choice once a week using comics, annuals and copies of children's newspapers I got my hands on and encouraged children to read in pairs for support

However, there is time once a week for reading buddies, where younger children read their book to year 6 children, which always works well.

I suppose a way round a learning objective may be to create one such as: to read independently a text I have chosen... Very contrived though!"


"I work in Y5 in large primary school.

We are allowed to do free reading once a week during 'early morning work' (10-20mins). In guided reading sessions we can allow children to read but when I was observed, I was told I needed to give them a focus (a sheet to write stuff on whilst they read basically - looking for adjectives - that sort of thing). I don't do that I still let them read freely and they love it. They pore over books in pairs, they bring in books from home to put in the book corner to share. Recently a couple of boys in my class redesigned our reading corner - making it really inviting, sorted all the non-fiction books into categories and labelling them, organising collections of magazines for children to enjoy. It's a joy to see. Sadly, if I am observed again, I imagine I will give them a sheet to do.

When I started here just over two years ago - the school was just introduction 'story time' - 15 minutes at the end of every day dedicated to reading stories to the class. I love the idea and did it most days with my class - getting through a good number of books. The problem is that to do the 15 mins- you have to steal time from your afternoon lessons. We only have 1hr45 in the afternoon (realistically a bit less once you have done the register) - because our mornings are completely full with English and Maths (including Guided Reading and Guided Maths). This means we have to fit all of our other subjects into the afternoons, including assemblies, two PE sessions, one computing session, science, topic, PSHE and all foundation subjects (art, history etc.) So we have to make a really hard call - do we prioritise science or stories? I want to do both!

Over time, the profile of story time has diminished - and this year when we were given timetables it wasn't mentioned. I asked about how we were meant to fit so many sessions into such short afternoons and was told nothing is statutory apart from RE. In my opinion the relentless push for results has narrowed the curriculum so much to the point where all we really place any importance on is English and Maths. We don't even assess science or computing at my school, but the maths and English assessments are relentless.

I hope my experiences may contribute something to the debate - not unusual I am sure!"

Here are some more teachers talking specifically about silent reading being frowned on or banned in schools. I am also receiving other messages about schools which encourage silent reading and I can post those and others on another day. One thing at a time!


" In response to your Facebook post asking for teachers to contact you if they have been asked to suspend 'free reading' activities. Unfortunately, I can say that we have. We used to do a guided reading carousel and one day would be a group's turn to choose what they wanted to read (magazines, non- fiction on any topic, comics, books of any reading level) and sit in the book corner (comfy chairs, cushions etc). It was deemed that there was no obvious learning objective and progress was not measurable.

We also have a brand new library stocked with thousands of pounds worth of books. Not a single class in the school has any timetabled time to use it and teachers find it impossible to find time in the week to visit it. We used to have a library slot once a week where the children had time to explore books, loan them and then would choose one book to share and read together. They loved it.

I am so bored of guided reading. Why can't we just read a book together and enjoy it? I am constantly finding tedious links in texts to a list of 40 reading criteria used to assess. 

I've been teaching 5 years in one school and each year I've had to learn a new way to assess reading and writing. "


"I teach year 2 and I just wanted to add another story to all the messages you've had in response to your Facebook post about reading in schools.

For the past two years I worked in a new academy in [-----]. My class used to come in and read silently (or with a friend) for 10 minutes each morning, until new management banned silent reading. We had to replace it with something 'constructive' like responding to marking comments in books. I ended up complying because they used to come round and check up on us and I didn't want to get told off. Reading time certainly wasn't allowed during our carefully pre-made, pre-rehearsed Ofsted lessons (when headteachers from other academies were shipped in for two days to pretend to be class teachers and TAs because they were so desperate to secure their outstanding judgement). "