The KM Charity Team’s new home reading initiative for primary schools is continuing to create headlines – this time being featured on the front cover of The Governor, the magazine published to support school governors in Kent.
A photo taken at the end of pilot evaluation has been used for the cover shot and a full page article inside examines the progress and success of Buster’s Book Club and its impact at the 10 pilot schools.
Over the autumn of 2014 schools were invited to sign up to the initiative in the first year of its roll out and 40 schools opted in, which means more than 10,000 children will be involved with Buster’s Book Club in 2015.
Simon Dolby from the KM Charity Team said: “We are absolutely delighted to have made the front cover as this shows we are continuing to gain credibility within the education sector for this innovative initiative.”
Primary schools keen to join Buster’s Book Club should complete the Buster’s Book Club enquiry page on this website under the schools tab.
The article published in The Governor is reproduced below:
Following a resoundingly successful pilot, a new literacy initiative to get primary school children excited about reading has been rolled out Kent wide.
Buster’s Book Club, which was created by the KM Group’s charity department – the KM Charity Team – with the support of Kent County Council, was piloted at ten primary schools last year. The scheme had a dramatic impact beyond the expectations of the organisers with more than half a million minutes of home reading achieved by 3,000 pupils.
A combined total of 568,723 minutes was achieved by the participating schools: South Borough Primary School, Molehill Copse and St Francis’ Catholic Primary School in Maidstone; Northdown Primary Academy in Margate; Maypole Primary School, The Craylands Primary School and St Anselm’s Catholic Primary School in Dartford; and Riverview Junior School, Painters Ash Primary School and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Gravesham.
The final reading figure was revealed during a Literacy Celebration Day at Leeds Castle, which included a formal evaluation of the scheme. Debbie Smith, school governor at Painters Ash Primary School in Northfleet, was among those taking part in the review and quick to offer her praise. “As a parent of a year five child, it’s engaged him into far more reading than most other things that I’ve seen recently,” she said.
The programme encourages pupils to get the reading bug by setting competitive challenges to increase the amount of time they spend reading at home. Individual reading targets are based on year group, while a weekly snapshot survey records how many children have managed to reach or exceed their target – and by how much.
Simon Dolby of the KM Charity Team said: “Any reading activity counts towards their target, whether it’s the children reading to themselves, listening to audiobooks or being read to by their parents. It’s about enjoying reading in all its forms. Plus the competitive element really helps children to get enthusiastic about reading and talking to each other about books.”
The scheme is supported by engaging wall charts, badges and other resources to reward star readers. At the end of each week the class that has done the most reading is presented with a giant certificate during assembly as well as the coveted ‘Readers of the Week’ trophy.
Literacy leader Sarah Tarry said the scheme has been a huge success at St Anselm’s Catholic Primary School in Dartford. She said: “Buster’s Book Club has slotted in really well with all the other things we do to promote a lifelong love of reading, the element of competition providing motivation for even the most reluctant of readers! Parents really got involved too, helping their children to clock up impressive numbers of reading minutes each week.”
There’s more positive reinforcement with a series of inter-school reading challenges at district level. The top and most improved classes for reading are rewarded with prizes such as book vouchers, tickets to Leeds Castle or Silver Blades ice skating rink, or visits from storytellers. The scheme culminates in a record attempt to accumulate the biggest number of home reading minutes by all participating schools.
Organisers are keen for as many children as possible to have the chance to join in and reap the rewards on offer. Mr Dolby said: “Unlike most initiatives which are expensive and require one-to-one time with each struggling child, our initiative is low in cost and involves the whole school.”
In fact, selected schools are invited to contact the KM Charity Team to apply for a grant that will allow them to make full use of the resources for just £1 per child for the whole academic year. Schools receiving the grant will pay £30 instead of the regular price of £65.
They can also use pupil premium to support child literacy as advised by Alison Floyd, KCC’s cross phase literacy consultant, who said: “Many schools in the county have found Buster’s Book Club highly instrumental in involving families in getting the reading habit. This initiative would be an excellent use of pupil premium funding, as the impact of the scheme is measurable and impact can be clearly shown.”
The simple yet effective formula of Buster’s Book Club has gathered a great deal of interest and support. Forty school literacy leaders attended its formal launch at the KM Charity Team Forum last October and a number of businesses have backed the scheme including Golding Homes, which has pledged to sponsor ten schools in Maidstone to take part.
Caroline McBride, community development manager at Golding Homes, said: “We are very excited with the concept. We know that there are some children in our communities struggling to get enthusiastic about reading and this is a great way to do it. We are really looking forward to seeing the results and how the children get on with the challenges.”
Recent figures have shown that thousands of children in Kent are struggling to read with confidence and in need of additional support. The ‘Read On. Get On’ report produced by the children’s charity Beanstalk found 2,254 pupils in Kent left primary school last year unable to read to the required level. Disadvantaged children were the worst affected – almost double the rate of their better off peers – with four in ten not reading well by the age of 11.
Buster’s Book Club provides primary schools with resources and incentives to generate a buzz around reading and raise literacy standards. “This is a real success story,” said KCC’s Alison Floyd. “I am delighted the scheme has taken off as well as it has. One of our original aims was about getting children to get the reading habit – this certainly seems to be delivering the outcome we hoped for.”
For more information on Buster’s Book Club, visit www.kmcharityteam.co.uk or contact Simon Dolby at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0844 264 0291.