Case study: Watercliffe Meadow

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Instilling a love of reading in young children

This project will allow us to extend and develop our early years literacy engagement and support with the aim of creating language-rich home environments that foster a love of reading and stories.

Ian Read Headteacher, Watercliffe Meadow Community Primary School, Sheffield

The big idea

Offering support and guidance to families that helps them to instil a love of reading in their young children.

Why it’s needed

Children start nursery at Watercliffe Meadow, in Sheffield, significantly behind their peers. In September 2018, 96% were below the expected levels of literacy, with more than half significantly below. In addition, their parents can lack the literacy skills and self-confidence to provide learning support at home. By providing more effective help and support for parents, staff at Watercliffe Meadow want to help more children begin school with the strongest possible foundations for future success.

How it works

Through a series of workshops, the school has been working with children and their parents on the creation of a new mobile app aimed at encouraging youngsters to read at home. Families have shared what motivates them to play and learn together at home. This feedback is being used in the development of a series of home learning ideas and activities for inclusion in the app. Other workshops promote reading, learning through play at home and bedtime stories. Neil Griffiths, children’s author and literacy expert, led a workshop with families and his ‘top tips for reading’ were filmed and produced as a DVD for all new parents, as well as being incorporated into the app. Parents are being provided with story sacks, containing books and supporting materials, for use at home.

The impact

  • Dozens of families have taken part in workshops, engaging with at-home activities set between sessions.
  • There has been a noticeable uptake in use of the nursery family, with more families now regularly borrowing books to take home.
  • And families say they feel much more connected with the nursery and its staff, while the confidence of both parents and children has been boosted by the project.

One parent said: “We really enjoyed the workshops and we loved that we could continue completing more activities, spending more time together after the workshops, to send through to show Emily’s teacher. It really helped us with ideas and made things easier and more fun at home.”

Another added: “‘This a brilliant idea! I was very anxious about my son starting nursery, being away from me for the first time, but this has helped to give me ideas of what we can do when we are together to make that time special.”

A third said: “After the workshops, my son couldn’t wait to do more activities together to share with his teacher, and his sister really enjoyed them too.”