This week, we carried out our first set of nationally standardised assessments. These show the progress our pupils have made throughout the year in reading, English and Maths.
Pupils are delighted with their results. The average Michaela pupil made 20 months’ reading progress in 10 months. Over half our year 7 pupils now have a reading age of 14 or above, and our SEN pupils have made rapid progress, catching up quickly with their peers.
Of course, there are many factors that have contributed to these outcomes, and we are very much aware that we still have a long way to go, and that we must maintain this as the school grows. However, a few people have been asking us how we achieved these results, and whilst I don’t think there is one formula to rule them all on this one, here are a few ideas that have played a part in making this happen.
- How to get them reading: which diagnostic assessments are useful? How should pupils be grouped? Which intervention programmes work best? What are the key focus areas in reading instruction? This blog provides a broad overview of our approach to reading at Michaela.
- How to motivate reluctant readers: in this post, I argue that habits, a feeling of success and increased challenge are important levers to pull when trying to motivate reluctant readers.
- How to read texts in lessons: At Michaela, pupils read thousands of words every day, in subjects across the curriculum. How could teachers go about this? What should reading look like in a lesson in any subject? This blog gives some examples of what this might look like.
- How to increase a pupil’s vocabulary: Vocabulary acquisition and extension is complex and boggling at times. In this post, I summarise some approaches we read about in Beck et al.’s excellent book, and a few other things we do to build vocabulary.
- One Hundred Classics for Every Child: The simplest way to improve pupils’ reading is to get them to read loads. Here’s how we will give every child a minimum of 100 classics over five years.
I should add that nothing here is revolutionary or new. Everything you will read about in the above posts has been pinched from stuff we’ve read, seen or heard about over the last few years.
Like I say, we aren’t experts, nor do we think that these are necessarily the best ways to get results. I’d welcome others’ tips and views on all of this, so please feel free to add what you do in the comments below.
Finally, whilst this is all very encouraging, I’m mindful of Kipling’s profound words:
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same
Results most certainly are not everything, and I wouldn’t want us to pin all our hopes on them or grow complacent. It’s important to see this triumph as a bit of an imposter, and not to let it distract us from doing our best by the kids every single day. That is, after all, what we’re all in this for!