School reading initiative up for top award
A NOVEL initiative which aims to encourage reading among younger school children has been nominated for a prestigious prize.
Castlehead High School’s Paired Reading Club is in the running for a Times Educational Supplement (TES) School Award.
Over the last 16 years, the scheme has helped hundreds of first and second year pupils at the Paisley school improve their reading skills by pairing them up with older students.
Now it has been nominated in the Outstanding Literacy and Numeracy category of the competition.
The Times Educational Supplement is Britain’s leading publication in primary, secondary and further education.
Around 70 pupils benefit from Castlehead’s Paired Reading Club, which teams up older students with younger ones who need a confidence boost when it comes to literacy.
Fifth and sixth year students volunteer to give up part of their Wednesday and Friday lunchtimes to run the scheme. The younger pupils either want their reading or writing skills to be developed or are involved in order to benefit from the friendship and social support from the club.
Sixth year pupil Stacey Ross is one of the main organisers of the club.
The 17-year-old took time out from studying for her exams to say: “We are very happy and excited to be nominated.
“I’ve been helping since I was in fifth year and I’ve seen lots of younger pupils benefit from the scheme. It also helps make them more confident and able to voice their own opinions without being embarrassed.”
Headteacher Martin Macdonald told the Paisley Daily Express he too is thrilled the scheme has received such a prestigious nomination.
He said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted in the national award.
“It is a great achievement on behalf of the pupils who organise, run and manage the literacy programme.”
Mr Macdonald added: “A big thanks must also go to those members of staff involved, especially guidance teacher Peter Maiolani.”
Students set up the reading base for younger pupils, which promotes literacy at the same time as helping to ease the transition into secondary school.
This has impacted on the reading skills of many of those involved in the scheme, helping reading ages increase by as much as three years.
Mr Maiolani, an English teacher who has been involved since the start of the club, explained: “Whether they start from a low reading base or their skills are finely tuned, we have noticed quite a marked improvement and progression.
“Those who take part are better able to cope with the first year and the demands of secondary school. And, for the seniors, it is a huge boost for their own CVs.”
Castlehead High School’s Paired Reading Club has achieved many successes over the years, including winning the Philip Lawrence Award in 2003 and, later, the National Children’s Award.
A year and a half ago, the club was given another accolade, this time in memory of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
The prestigious Diana Certificate of Excellence recognises the outstanding contribution of young people aged 12 to 18 who work together in groups to improve their communities, organisations or schools.
The certificate rewards those who work together to benefit others, such as raising money for charity, campaigning on a local issue or mentoring younger children in their schools or youth groups.
The winners of the TES Awards will be announced at a gala lunch at the Park Lane Hilton, in London, on Friday, July 8.