Skills Academy helps new Year 7 students improve their reading

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Amy Lloyd, transition teacher at Vyners School in Middlesex, used Skills Academy to support incoming Year 7 students who needed support with their reading.

As part of their Core Kickstart transition programme, Vyners offered these students six weeks of targeted intervention using the Skills Academy programme, prior to starting secondary school. They then continued the programme upon joining the school in September.

Amy said: “The targeted reading support the programme offers helps the incoming students to improve their reading skills in a fun way, and motivates them to read for pleasure. In turn that means they can better access the whole curriculum within KS3.”

The programme is also offered to Year 8 students who require reading support after school and during literacy intervention lessons. Having comprehension challenges rewarded with football, beatboxing and breakdancing skill videos as rewards really engaged the students from the outset.

“Our students felt that the programme offered them something different,” explained Amy. “They could identify with the freestyle footballers, beatboxers and breakdancers in the videos, and the sport element within the programme provided another avenue to engage those students who were reluctant readers.”

The students were able to access the videos and spend time practising at home, and were excited to share their new skills at their next lesson.

The texts the students read as part of Skills Academy are chosen to be very accessible and on topics that are interesting to them. This helps motivate them to read more, and make them more confident in choosing books they can read independently for pleasure.

It has also helped them to develop specific skills, such as using a graphic organiser to summarise a longer text, in order to help them in other subjects.

“It’s been amazing to see how participating students have grown in confidence and it has enabled them to pinpoint their own interests, strengths and areas of development,” added Amy.

The school were really pleased with the results of the programme, with participating students making measurable progress in their reading skills.

For any schools thinking about delivering Skills Academy with their students, Amy says: “We are continuing to use the programme at Vyners next year and would wholeheartedly recommend it to other schools.”