Oh DEAR not in here

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Ever since Ofsted announced that it was focussing on literacy and reading in schools there seems to have been a massive increase in the number of schools undertaking what they feel are ‘whole school’ answers to these problems.
Mainly these ‘whole school’ answers have no thought process through what they are actually doing and maybe whether they are doing more harm than good. They are also more of a slight nod towards doing something to improve reading and literacy rather than actually wanting to do something that’s going to make a difference.
One example of this is the DEAR programme, drop everything and read. The premise behind it is basically at some point during the day/week, or however a school wants to run it, is that everyone stops what they are doing and reads.
A good idea you may think, a really visible way of showing everyone reading and the impact that you are having with such a high profile reading project.
You may think so wouldn’t you? But actually let’s think about that in more detail. A scheme where we are asking everyone in school to stop what they are doing and read. Where it relies on literally everyone to stop and read. Everyone, otherwise we know those kids, yes those kids, will turn round and say ‘but you’re not so why should I?’
So not only does it have to be everyone but they have to enjoy it too. Enjoy it because otherwise what’s the point, it’s supposed to be about reading for pleasure and that’s why you’re doing it.
But, what happens if you don’t feel like reading? I sometimes don’t feel like reading, and this is mostly when I feel I’m being made to.
Do we really think there won’t be others in the school like this. And what about those kids that have forgotten their books or reading items? What you say, provide each room with a box of things to use. You mean forced to read because they haven’t got anything. But isn’t reading for pleasure about reading something you want to? Ah, so already what you’re doing is going against the reason for doing it in the first place?
Can we really believe that those kids that tell us they don’t like reading will suddenly be spurred into action and to discover a passion for reading because for 20 minutes a week everyone is forced to read.
My thoughts would be, hell no! I know exactly what’s going to happen. Those kids that want to read and that will do it no matter what, will read, but those students that don’t read or like reading, the ones we need to be careful with, that we need to gently coax and encourage to show them the benefits of reading. Those students will suddenly believe all they thought was true. ‘I only read when I’m forced to and I hate all things I’m forced into doing.’
Wahey, what we’ve managed to do is compound their understanding of reading all because we wanted a visible, quick and easy way to show how much we value reading and provide some good PR shots.
Come on, really, if it were really that simple to get everyone reading do you think we’d be in the state we’re in? No we wouldn’t because actually making a difference isn’t about paying lip service to something it’s about understanding the problem and working damn hard to find a solution, always remembering the reason why you’re doing it and that there might not be a solution but that that’s not going to stop you.
You only thing you’ll achieve doing things like this is an ever bigger divide between those that read and those that don’t.

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