The Rooted in Reading Programme- Improves reading levels, skills and enjoyment


A report out  last week, published by CfBT Education Trust, looks at the impact of the  Rooted in Reading programme . ‘Rooted in reading’ is a reading promotion project offering both  primary and secondary school  pupils a suite of 12  reading ‘passports’ to encourage reading for pleasure. The passports encourage the reading of a variety of text types and aim to expand the reader’s literary and non-literary experience. They cover the whole range of reading levels from  pre-school children sharing their first books with parents and carers, through to high-achieving sixth-form students.

The report finds that complementary incentives can help children to develop a healthy appetite for reading by rewarding their success. The ‘Rooted in reading’ programme passports improve students’ reading levels, stamina and enjoyment of reading, and contribute to the improvement of their reading skills.

After reading a book, children complete an entry that takes the form of a short review in their passport. The student’s teacher, school or public librarian can then stamp their passport with the project’s tree logo to endorse their reading.

This study explored the impact of the specific reading promotion project (namely ‘Rooted in reading’) based  on survey responses from a sample of 46 schools in Lincolnshire (16 primary, 28 secondary and one special)  and Derbyshire (one secondary) which made use of the passports. The sample surveyed for this research  report included only users or facilitators of the ‘Rooted in reading’ project.

The DCSF publication: Getting Back on Track – Pupils who make slow progress in English, Mathematics and Science in Key Stage 3 highlighted several areas that schools  need to address in order to engage and extend their students as readers. These include:  providing opportunities to discuss students’ reading habits, self-identification of students’reading abilities and capabilities, referrals to texts that will stimulate and extend reading  ability, recommendations for wider reading, opportunities to read for enjoyment in a  supportive environment, awareness that all types of reading count – not just fiction, and  guidance on making independent decisions in relation to reading material.

With this knowledge, the initial passport was created during 2008, the National Year of Reading, with the aim of increasing students’ reading of a variety of text types, including fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, plays and poetry. After the creation and use of this initial passport, it soon became apparent that this one design could not meet the needs of all  primary and secondary school students, so new passports were designed. To date, over  200,000 reading passports, in 12 different designs aimed at distinct target groups, have  been requested and distributed to primary, secondary and special schools in Lincolnshire  and Rutland.

Key Findings

Schools using ‘Rooted in reading’ saw increases in attainment

In primary schools that made extensive use of reading passports, the percentage of students gaining Level 4 or higher in the Key Stage 2 reading SATs rose by 4.4 percentage points between 2007 and 2009.

‘Rooted in reading’ has increased the amount of reading children do

Both teachers and students reported that the passports have increased the amount of  reading that students do, and also, importantly, students’ enjoyment of reading; 75 per  cent of students surveyed reported that the passports have had a positive or strongly positive impact on their enjoyment of reading.

The wider impact of ‘Rooted in reading’

As well as the positive impact on the quality and quantity of students’ reading, the  research revealed a wider impact within the school community. Altogether, 68 per cent of  teachers reported a positive or strongly positive impact on teaching in their school, and  87 per cent noticed the same results in relation to the use of reading resources within the  ,school. In addition, just under half of the teachers (46 per cent) felt that the passports have had a positive or strongly positive impact on students’ use of public libraries


The future of ‘Rooted in reading’

Analysis of survey responses suggests that the factors most likely to make the passports successful are:

• Involvement of other teachers and the headteacher (for example by talking about ‘Rooted in reading’ in assemblies, taking an interest in the passports, asking about progress)

• Involvement of the public library

• Extrinsic rewards (stamping, certificates etc), although these work better in some  settings than in others. Generally the impact seemed to lessen as the children involved  got older; younger readers particularly liked the stamping element and obtaining the  certificates and badges.

‘Rooted in reading passports: Are they an effective way of promoting reading?’ Research report, Steve Willshaw-CfBT Education Trust- April 2012

Note-In September 2002, CfBT began a ten-year partnership with Lincolnshire County Council. The main aim was to support the school improvement agenda in Lincolnshire schools.

The contract has been expanded to include the management of  a number of services for  the County Council, and has now been extended to 2017. The Lincolnshire School Improvement Service (LSIS) has overall responsibility for the governance, leadership, learning and workforce development in schools and settings. This includes the monitoring, support and challenge provided to these establishments to raise the standards and improve the well-being of children and young people in  Lincolnshire.

CFBT Education Trust Report


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