Raising Readers campaign: The day our education correspondent read with pupils at Ormiston Herman Academy in Gorleston

Year 6 pupil Brooke at Herman Academy in Gorleston reads to education correspondent Martin George Year 6 pupil Brooke at Herman Academy in Gorleston reads to education correspondent Martin George

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
9:57 AM

What are you doing to improve education in Norfolk? That is the question Norfolk County Council is asking parents, businesses and voluntary groups in its Raising Readers campaign, supported by the EDP.

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Year 6 pupil Alex at Herman Academy in Gorleston reads to education correspondent Martin GeorgeYear 6 pupil Alex at Herman Academy in Gorleston reads to education correspondent Martin George

One strand encourages businesses and voluntary groups to give staff two hours unpaid leave a month to visit schools and read with children.

With that in mind, I dropped into a literacy lesson at Ormiston Herman Academy in Gorleston to listen to 10 and 11-year-olds, and ask them about their books.

My visit came during the 45-minute period that all classes devote to literacy every morning.

Year 6 pupil Molly at Herman Academy in Gorleston reads to education correspondent Martin GeorgeYear 6 pupil Molly at Herman Academy in Gorleston reads to education correspondent Martin George

• Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis De Bernieres helps launch campaign to raise new generation of Norfolk readers

The children were sat quietly in small groups, some reading aloud to a teaching assistant, some to each other, and others silently to themselves. The books ranged from teen fiction to history.

I sat with Brooke as she read confidently from the third Hunger Games book, Mockingjay. She made sure she had read the previous two novels before seeing the film adaptations, preferring the printed page to the screen because the books had more detail.

Alex, who has already completed one of the reading diaries all children fill in, read aloud from Barmy British Empire, part of the Horrible Histories series, telling me about the Thugges, a murderous gang of professional assassins in India.

For him, one of the joys of reading is the technical terms he learns.

The school’s literacy subject leader, Rebecca Pettit, had a message for employers thinking about supporting the campaign.

“At the end of the day, these are their prospective employees. It’s coming to get to know the children of today’s society,” she said.

“Reading is a key to outcomes in all of their school life, and what becomes their adult life.”

She said that for the children, reading to a variety of different adults, and listening to the adults read, helps give them confidence, and shows why the skill is important.

For me, listening to the youngsters was a pleasure. There could hardly be a simpler way help raise education standards in Norfolk.

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