Learning to love reading at Simms Cross Primary School

Simms Cross Primary School in Widnes recently took part in our Young Readers Programme, in partnership with WHSmith. The school were invited along to their local WHSmith store to choose a free book to take home as part of the programme, and to take part in fun reading activities.

YRP WhiteleyTeacher and literacy co-ordinator at Simms Cross, Maxine Burge, accompanied the children on their visit to the WHSmith store. “The children were hugely positive about the visit,” she said. “The parents who came with us loved it and children got to choose books they really like.  When they realised the selection of books they could choose from they were amazed!”

WHSmith PLC and WHSmith Group Charitable Trust have supported the Young Readers Programme since 2005.  WHSmith Widnes store manager Sam, and supervisor Rachelle, helped to organise the Simms Cross class visit to the store. ““We really enjoyed doing the visits and meeting all the children,” Sam said. “It was lovely being able to put their book reviews on display. We've had pupils coming in after school and looking at books and their reviews, and we were told by Simms Cross Primary School that they were absolutely delighted with the books and all the support we have given them.”

The Young Readers Programme has had a positive effect on attitudes towards reading at Simms Cross. “Children seem to be reading more often and more widely,” explained Maxine. “Children are sharing books with each other and talking about their reading more. One teacher told me that his class had a 4-point average increase in reading levels this year. Year 3 is often considered a dip year so he is over the moon.  The increase is far higher than last year and he puts it down to improved attitudes to reading.”

The project has also made a wider impact on school literacy practice at the school, and as a result a successful bid was made for funding to improve the school library.

“I think that being involved in the Young Readers Programme this year has made us much more aware of the importance of children having access to quality literature that excites them, so we have put effort into getting better books,” said Maxine. “We realised that compared to the books children were choosing, many of the books in our library were a bit boring!

 “For schools in disadvantaged areas like ours, it is a wonderful chance to turn the kids onto reading in a way that would not be possible without the finance and expertise provided.”