The North East Learning Trust is spearheading an ambitious region-wide reading project after receiving funding from education charity SHINE.
Led by our Research School Director, Louise Quinn, the ‘Fluency for All’ project will aim to improve the reading skills of thousands of secondary school students across the North East and “could be a game changer” for disadvantaged children.
Speaking of her delight at securing the funding, Louise said: “Receiving this grant is a massive achievement for me personally and professionally. It is probably the highlight of my career because I genuinely believe we’ve got something that can help children, and SHINE has given us the money to hopefully make it happen. The funding will be really well spent.”
Fluency for All is an innovative peer-tutoring programme that has students reading aloud for 20 minutes daily, two days a week, under the guidance of older students who have undergone specialised training. They use a series of non-fiction texts that Louise and her colleagues across NELT have written.
While many Year 7 reading interventions emphasise phonics or comprehension, Fluency for All focuses on improving the fluency of children’s reading. Fluent reading involves reading accurately, at conversational speed, with appropriate stress and intonation, which is essential if children are to truly understand what they are reading.
Ms Quinn said: “We found that 85 per cent of our struggling readers in Year 7 had a fluency issue but, currently, there are very few evidence-informed secondary fluency reading interventions on offer. So, we designed our own because we need to get the intervention right: if we don’t, you run the risk of putting pupils off reading for life. There is no education without reading. All the research evidence tells us that reading is the biggest barrier to academic attainment at secondary, irrespective of the subject, and the majority of struggling readers are from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Dr Helen Rafferty, interim CEO of SHINE, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting Louise as she develops this innovative and exciting programme to develop reading fluency. We know that reading can be a substantial barrier to some children succeeding in their education, and we believe passionately in supporting children to thrive in their future lives. Brilliant educators like Louise can support students to read with skill and with understanding, and we look forward to seeing this work come to life in her own school and beyond.”