Here is a detailed report on the introduction of the Rooted in Reading passports and the impact they had in a large comprehensive school in Lincoln. The passports referred to are all available from the Lincolnshire Teaching School Alliance.
“Steve Willshaw offered us a handy supply of dinky little green ‘Reading Passports’ two years ago. Great, I thought, here’s a way to give a bit of structure to some of library/reading sessions with the lower years. I parcelled them up into class sets and gave them out to Y7 teachers of English and we chatted for a while about how to use them, some saying they might revisit them weekly, some saying they’d have them in kids’ folders to be available at any time. I then returned to worrying about November early entry, inclusion, and AfL…
About three months later, Anne Thomas, our Librarian stopped me in the Hall, after a music performance to ask me what we were doing that suddenly she had to re-stock the lower years’ shelves. It seems that this year 7 had been taking out roughly three times more fiction reading books than any year 7 she could remember, certainly since we were a Grammar School! As you can imagine, when Steve then said we could have Passports for the whole year group AND a new set to use with Y8, the ‘Passport Plus’ I said ‘Yes’ very quickly.
This time, it was less of a shot in the dark; I used Steve’s pre-passport reading interests/’Guide to choosing a book’ questionnaire with the incoming Y7 and with the Y8s who had used the Green ‘Passports’ in Y7. I also used tutor time to fill in the Rooted in Reading survey with the Year 8s who had used the passport in Y7. Analysis of these surveys showed that:
YEAR 7 (2010-11)
• Pre-Passport, 60% (yes, 60%) of our Year 7s did not name an author they enjoyed reading
• Pre-Passport, 45% did not name an author they had read before
• 186 pupils from 212 completed the whole passport, all completed at least some part of it
• No child indicated that they read less than before
• 62 pupils (from 212) indicated that they read much more than before, 108 indicated that they now read more than before
• 44 pupils indicated that the passport had made them much more enthusiastic about reading and 67 indicated that it had made them more enthusiastic. 12 indicated that it had made them less enthusiastic about reading.
• 121 pupils indicated that the Passport had either made it easier or a lot easier to keep going with longer books (16 easier, 105 a lot easier)
• 166 pupils from 212 (78%) said that they liked their reading passports
Selection of answers to ‘What is the best thing about your Rooted in Reading passport?’:
• Mum sees all my stamps and I get a present (Alex)
• I read more than my brother and he’s in Year 10 (Nathan)
• I found out about my friends’ books and discovered Famous Five ( Helen)
• Miss let me lend my books from home to people for the ‘Other Cultures’ page (Hari)
• I got a stamp for my Skateboard mag and website as well as books (Steven)
This looked really promising. We had already decided to invest in the Renaissance Learning Accelerated Reader programme and it seemed the right time to try to use the green ‘Reading Passport’ in Year 7, the brown ‘Passport Plus’ in Y8 and the ‘Personal Reading Diary’ in Year 9. We planned to use them with Years 7 and 9 in their English classes and with Year 8 through the tutors in tutor time.
Progress in 2011-12
We gave all Y7 and Y8 pupils STAR reading age tests in September 2011. We have re-tested twice since then, in December and in March.
• 66% of the year group (138 pupils) show 9 months or more increase in reading age between Sept 2011-March 2012 – of these 124 have kept up to date with the ‘Passport’
• The 19 pupils with the largest gains in reading age have all completed the Passport already
• 14% of the year group (29 pupils) show either no improvement or regression – of these ONLY 2 HAVE KEPT UP WITH THE PASSPORT
• 28 pupils completed Passport Plus before Christmas. All of these show reading age gains of greater than 6 months in six months
Erin (Top Set, winner of Passport Plus Prize at Christmas)
“ I think the Passport Plus is even better than last year’s Passport because it had a much wider variety of things I had to go looking for. The best pages, for me, were the ‘Random and Recommended’ pages and the ‘Rock My World’ page. For the Random bit, I got a book by Mal Peet called ‘Tamar’ and it was brilliant; I never would have thought I’d like a war book. I read a Terry Pratchett book called ‘Equal Rites’ for the recommended bit, even though I thought he was for D & D geeks but I laughed and laughed – I’ll probably read more of his books (there are millions!)”
Kyle (Lower Set, winner of fortnightly ‘Best Entry Draw’)
“ Last year I finished my Passport in the end but I put in loads of things I’d read at Westgate. My tutor keeps getting things I find hard to find, like the ‘Environment’ page and the ‘Local’ page. He got me a book called ‘Mortal Engines’ which was hard and all about when we have used most stuff up. It’s the hardest book I have ever read on my own. The local book was about a girl in Grimsby in the 1880s.[‘Between Two Seas’] It was the first girl’s book I’ve read and it was okay.”
Andrew ( Middle Set, winner of fortnightly best entry draw)
“ I don’t read much but I do a bit more now and when I do I get my dad to sign my planner and get a stamp for my Passport. The hardest pages so far have been ‘Local Writing’ and ‘Another View’ I read a book about an American Indian girl called Apache Girl Warrior. It was exciting but a bit unbelievable. Reading isn’t boring when the stories are good.”
We haven’t got to the end of the year yet, but I know I will be re-stocking next year for the whole of KS3 and with Transition Passports for our up-coming Year 6 intake.
Head of English
Christ’s Hospital School, Lincoln”