One boy in particular, also a student whose first language is not English, suddenly found a voice and vocabulary that we didn’t know he possessed. We discovered that Technology and its developments was an area which fascinated him. He loved articles on the latest super cars, for example, and was able to talk about this subject in class with passion and a level of technical vocabulary specific to that topic. I have no doubt that this has given him more confidence to speak up in the classroom, supporting the development of his oracy skills and engagement with other literature in English.
Another very reluctant reader has become so engaged with First News that he was the first to download the First News Quiz App and take part in the Sunday 5pm quiz related to the news that week. Instead of a usual lacklustre approach to English lesson, he now comes in on a Monday being the first to tell us about how he went on in the quiz and how his parents sat down with him to take part in it. The transformation in his attitude to learning has been fantastic to see.
We know that one of the key aspects of developing a reading for pleasure culture is ‘Choice’ and First News provides that through its newspaper and online resources in abundance. The debating and poll elements of the newspaper are fantastic and support our whole-school focus on developing oracy superbly. And what we see is our young people at their best, discussing current issues that matter to them in thoughtful, articulate ways. When people suggest that young people are disengaged with what’s going in the world, engagement with First News proves the absolute opposite.
The research model for developing critically literate newsreaders has been such a supportive resource for thinking about developing a news reading community and the best ways to do that. Students from Y7 have engaged with this so thoughtfully, considering what it means to be a news reader and the importance of critical literacy skills. It has also supported us in going whole-school with this approach and a wide range of subject teachers have expressed their interest in supporting this and engaging with the resources. Support staff have also got involved, ensuring that there are newspapers and news stories available for students to read in all areas of the school at any given opportunity in the school day. The social aspect of talking about news is key.