Raise a Reader: A year in review

Raise a Reader Oxfordshire is a two-year collaboration between the National Literacy Trust and Oxford University Press, with the aim of raising a generation of readers in some of Oxfordshire’s most disadvantaged and under-served communities. 

At the end of its first year, 3,000 children from ten primary schools are now benefitting from an up-to-date dedicated library with over 5,000 books donated and specialist training delivered to support 22 teachers on how to develop effective whole-school literacy strategies.  

As we head into the second year, three teachers from schools in the first cohort reflect on the difference it has made on their schools.

“Our Children are now excited about reading”

Above all, Raise a Reader is about developing a love of reading. Paul Waite, Assistant Head Teacher at Bayer’s Hill Primary School in Oxford explains the impact the programme has had:

“I can’t praise the scheme enough. We’re seeing more and more children enjoying reading for pleasure, a crucial part of the jigsaw, as they read more and more widely.

Our children are so excited now about the library and about reading in general.It is amazing […] Honestly, it’s one of the best things that I feel that I’ve achieved in a school – it’s been a fantastic journey that we have been on, and I feel very privileged to have been involved. I can’t praise it enough. It’s wonderful.

In an Ofsted inspection last year, the school went from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ and our reading for pleasure strategy has been instrumental in helping to achieve our new rating.”

“We needed something to happen”

OUP didn’t just donate a diverse range of books for these libraries; our volunteers went into the school to help create spaces that everyone in school would love to use. One teacher at Dashwood Academy in Banbury said:

“Whilst pupils did enjoy reading to some extent, the choice of books they had was quite limited and we needed something to happen.

Thanks to the Raise a Reader project our library really offers that initial ‘wow’ as it is the first thing visitors see when they walk into the school. It is literally the very heart of the school for the children who are excited to have this opportunity.  

They’ve got something they can take and enjoy, and it has really opened up the world of reading for pupils.”

Engaging learners with their library

Each school was able to come into OUP’s Oxford office for a day dedicated to training on how to make the most of the library.

For one teacher from John Henry Newman school, this time was invaluable:

“The biggest thing I took away from the training was how to engage people in the library once we have it.

We are drip feeding all the little tips to keep the library exciting, fresh, and new, so it’s not just a space that is the same every time the children go.”

Since then, the library has become a part of each class’s weekly timetable, with the whole school sharing a book of the week. 

We’re looking forward to helping raise readers in another ten schools spread across East Oxford, Banbury, and Witney who will be taking place in the programme this year. 

Find out more about Raise a Reader Oxfordshire.