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Dagenham pupils show off literacy success at ‘Read Aloud’ event in the British Library

PUBLISHED: 17:22 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:22 31 January 2018

Year One pupils from Grafton Primary were given the chance to read at the British Library Picture: Sarah-Jane Gregori

Year One pupils from Grafton Primary were given the chance to read at the British Library Picture: Sarah-Jane Gregori

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Dagenham schoolchildren were given the stage at the British Library today to celebrate their reading achievements.

Dagenham schoolchildren were handed the stage at the British Library today to celebrate their reading achievements.

Year One pupils from Grafton Primary have been taking part in UCL’s Institute of Education programme, Reading Recovery, aimed at getting struggling readers up to speed.

Today’s Read Aloud event saw the six and seven-year-olds reading to an audience from their favourite books.

Janet Smith, UCL lecturer and national leader for the programme, said: “Reading is vital – it’s about unlocking doors.

“If you can’t read it’s a lost opportunity, and if children are left behind it’s really hard to recover them.”

Reading Recovery uses specially trained teachers to improve literacy through a mixture of one-to-one reading and writing lessons.

On average, pupils reach an age-appropriate level in 18 weeks.

“It’s a good time to catch them if you can intervene, at six you can recover them quite quickly,” Janet said.

“They go from not reading at all, and about 20 weeks later there’s a massive transformation.

“Our whole philosophy with the hardest to teach children is to have a specialist – if you have a heart problem you go to a heart specialist.

“They need someone who has had professional training so we give them these experienced teachers.”

Schools have to opt in to the scheme themselves, which predominantly works with disadvantaged pupils. Almost half of Reading Recovery’s students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, compared to the 14 pc of pupils nationally who are eligible for free school meals.

“These children have grown up hard, they don’t feel like they’re readers,” Janet said.

“But once they learn to read, the children grow.

“Their helds are held high and they walk around with confidence, it’s a bit of a turning point.”

This was the fourth Read Aloud series. As well as the readings, the children were given a tour of the library and a showing of the Klencke Atlas, which was made in the 17th century.

Today’s reading kicked off a month-long series, which will end with an event on World Book Day on March 1.

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