Using Power of Reading to carry a developing curriculum
An outstanding curriculum must develop the ‘whole’ person: it must give each pupil the knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes to be successful both now and in later life. I have used the CLPE's Power of Reading training to embed this ethos within Ronald Ross Primary School: a one form entry, deprived status school in SW London with a high number of EAL children. The Power of Reading has helped us create a broad and balanced curriculum, with clear progression in subject-based skills and knowledge. It has shown us that a great text can carry a developing curriculum.
The Power of Reading has inspired my teachers to embrace teaching creatively, to stop teaching in a linear fashion, and to think about the ways in which they can enhance higher order thinking across different subject areas as well as in reading, writing and the spoken word. Through the creative teaching approaches recommended by the Power of Reading, my pupils have learnt new ways of communicating (drama); applied the new to what they know (inference); learnt without the pressure of learning (discussions); have been stimulated by working with new classmates; had the opportunity to express themselves and explored emotions and motivations through role playing.
At Ronald Ross, we value engaging our readers in a variety of ways to excite them and broaden their horizons in terms of experience and empathy with others. Rich texts recommended by the CLPE like The Journey by Francesca Sanna, The Adventures of Odysseus by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden, Moth by Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus, and Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, have allowed children to see different points of views, have a less rigid view of the world and the people in it and they have been able to do this while deepening their understanding and imagining of characters and events. This has then extended to their reading and writing.
I have also made it a mission to really develop and explore language and vocabulary this year as we have many pupils with EAL. Stories the class can read aloud support these students. By fully engaging in the interests of the children in my class, I have explored vocabulary and introduced vocabulary walls. As a SIP said to us recently, if children are engaged in a text, they need to know what happens in the story and to know what the unknown word means. The walls have helped my students direct their own learning, while the high-quality books have clearly supported our pupils become motivated and engaged readers.
In an uncertain jobs market, we need to prepare our children for an uncertain future. Our pupils need to be able to adapt and to think outside the box: they must be able to seize opportunities with confidence and to have the intellectual tools with which to do so. This means providing children with a depth of learning – not just of the facts but with the ability to put those facts in context. We can do this by teaching in a creative way: by being flexible and responsive to individual needs and interests. The Power of Reading has helped place reading at the core of the curriculum, encouraging each child to take risks, giving them room to explore the full range of their abilities and interests. It has emphasised the importance, and value, of learning to read and how to do it well. By embracing the Power of Reading and quality texts, all children have become capable of driving their learning forward. I believe our school curriculum now has a local, national and international dimension to it, with an eye on the future and the future needs of our pupils, with creativity at its centre and with reading at its heart.