UKLA and The Open University

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 Reading for Pleasure Quality Mark

Establishing, embedding and enriching the impact of reading for pleasure

This exciting UKLA/OU Quality Mark, now in its second year, recognises and rewards schools that have developed, embedded and enriched their Reading for Pleasure (RfP) culture and ethos with demonstrable impact on staff knowledge and practice, on parents and, most significantly, on young people’s recreational reading. 

Achieving the UKLA/OU Quality Mark will position schools as centres of excellence for nurturing young readers who choose to read widely and frequently, within and beyond school. The QM is open to all primary, junior and infant schools in the UK.

Applying for and gaining the UKLA/OU Quality Mark is a supportive year-long process, enabling reflection, evaluation and the gathering of evidence of impact. English leaders will be mentored by an expert in reading for pleasure research and practice, who, through use of the RfP Audit Framework, will help schools decide which of the awards they are able to apply for: silver, gold or platinum. In 2023-2024, 25 schools will be enabled to work towards the RfP QM.

Professor Michael Rosen, a UKLA Ambassador, said

This Quality Mark is a great idea. It gives schools something to aim for and a yardstick by which they can check whether they are delivering a whole school reading for pleasure programme.  It will also be an indication to parents, pupils and teachers that a school is making reading for pleasure a priority.’

Professor Teresa Cremin, from The Open University, said:

‘Responsibility, rigour and relevance – the 3 Rs of reading for pleasure are central to this evidence-informed Quality Mark. The bar is high, but schools that can demonstrate the impact of their provision deserve to be recognised for the significant work they are doing to change children’s lives.’

Roger McDonald, UKLA past president, said:

‘UKLA is proud to be launching the Reading for Pleasure Quality Mark with The Open University in order to recognise schools who take the business of reading for pleasure seriously and are developing lifelong readers who are engaged and critically reflective.’

Reading for Pleasure

Reading for pleasure makes a difference.  Evidence from OECD (2002; 2010) shows that reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status). In addition, the OECD (2021) argue that finding ways to engage students in reading and developing the habit of reading has the potential to leverage social change. It is thus a matter of social justice and as the International Literacy Association state: ‘reading for pleasure is the right of every child’ (ILA, 2019, Right 5).

A number of benefits are associated with being a childhood reader who reads widely and frequently. These include:

  • Higher reading attainment scores (McGrane, 2017)
  • Enhanced vocabulary (Sullivan and Brown 2015)
  • Wider general knowledge (Schugar & Dreher, 2017
  • Better spelling skills (Sullivan and Brown 2015)
  • Enhanced well-being (Mak and Fancourt, 2020)
  • Enriched narrative writing (Senechal et al., 2018).

However, the recent National Literacy Trust survey of 8–18-year-olds reported the lowest levels of reading for pleasure since their records began in 2005 (Cole et al, 2022), with boys and disadvantaged pupils on FSM representing particular cause for concern. Schools right across the country are thus working to enrich their reading cultures, and to establish and evaluate their provision. Many are looking for coherent evidence informed approaches.

One such approach was identified though research undertaken by the Open University in partnership with the UKLA. This revealed that when teachers widen their knowledge and pleasure in reading children’s literature and other texts, and become more aware of their own, and the children’s reading practices, they begin to see reading differently. As a consequence, they more effectively built a reading for pleasure pedagogy and strong communities of readers in school (Cremin et al., 2014). Such reading communities and cultures take time to build and embed so that they not only become part of the fabric of the school but stretch beyond it into homes and the local community (Boyask et al, 2022).

Schools that have begun to develop and sustain their culture of reading are welcome to register their interest in applying for the RfP Quality Mark and can attend the Introductory CPD session.

Register your interest and attend the Introductory CPD session

New schools interested in hearing more about the UKLA/OU RfP Quality Mark opportunity, are invited to register for the RfP CPD and QM Introductory Session on Wednesday 24th April: 2pm- 4pm.

UKLA member and non-members are all welcome to this session.

The session will: 

  • Provide research informed CPD on RfP
  • Introduce the QM selection process
  • Share additional RfP opportunities

To register for the session, follow this link: https://www.trybooking.com/uk/DGCS

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Notes to editors

About The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 2.3 million students worldwide and has over 208,000 current students, including more than 8,500 overseas. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment.

Regarded as the UK’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units, as well as games, videos and academic articles, which have reached over 36 million people.

Drawing on its reading related research from the last 20 years, The Open University has a dedicated evidence-informed RfP website, and with the UKLA enables over 100 Teachers Reading Groups annually across the UK. These groups offer free yearlong CPD sessions for individual staff members to develop their knowledge and practice. In addition, the OU team offer the OU Reading Schools Programme to help primary schools or KS3 educators to build reading cultures, This year long programme uses the Education Endowment Foundation’s school implementation process, and pays close attention to the impact of developed provision on the lowest attaining 20% of pupils. The OU also offers a free badged online course on reading for pleasure.

About the UKLA

UKLA has been working to improve literacy since 1963 and prides itself on advancing literacy education by creating a supportive community for those working in literacy, language and communication, and by providing access to the latest research for use by practitioners and policy makers.

UKLA supports approaches to literacy learning and teaching that draw research informed practice which are published through UKLA Viewpoints. It recognises the significance for effective language, literacy and communication learning of literature, drama, multimodal texts, information texts and digital media. UKLA welcomes approaches to teaching that draw on diverse cultures and that are informed by a detailed understanding of how literacy and language work, including knowledge about non-spoken communication such as gesture. In fulfilling its mission UKLA aims to provide support for:

• professional development that empowers and enables members to be agents of change

• advocacy for a wide range of issues related to language and literacy

• equality of opportunity and respect for all language users

• the provision of research focused on language, literacy and communication

 • professional connections between teaching and research

• the formation of partnerships with organisations who share UKLA’s interests

Further information: Teresa Cremin: Teresa.Cremin@Open.ac.uk or Roger McDonald:R.d.McDonald@gre.ac.uk

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