Daily Supported Reading (DSR) was first implemented at Roebuck Academy beginning in January 2017, and we’re now in our second year of following this approach to the teaching of reading. The school’s headteacher, Lynsey Young, was already familiar with DSR from her previous school, and was keen to adopt it at Roebuck Academy upon being successfully appointed.
DSR sets out to help Y1 children develop as confident readers, and aims to encourage a love of reading for pleasure by providing opportunities to access wide range of different texts. In order to work, DSR calls for careful planning, training and a regular time commitment on the part of all adults throughout the school.
The staff at Roebuck Academy were trained by Richard Boxall of the Hackney Learning Trust. As the DSR lead, I was required to attend an intensive three-hour training session to ensure I had the confidence and skills necessary to oversee the required planning, assessment and further training of teachers and TAs.
As its name suggests, the programme is designed to be delivered on a daily basis. For half an hour each day, Y1 teachers and TAs will teach groups of up to six children across the year to read in a structured, systematic and rigorous way. As well as seeing that children are taught vital decoding skills, DSR aims to ensure that there’s a sharpened focus on the front-loading of text, so that children are able to master comprehension skills at a crucial stage of their reading development.
Pupils with SEND are able to access texts in a way that involves repetition, which has helped their long-term memory, and the programme’s had a marked impact on Pupil Premium children, who demonstrated significant improvements in their reading skills compared to 2016 – according to our attainment data, the gains made amounted to as much as 20%. The apparent success of the programme has been monitored by our governors via further data analysis and several learning walks.
We’ve also extended fluent readers by developing reading comprehension skills, and seen a significant increase in the proportion of children entering Y2 who are able to access more complex texts and demonstrate improved decoding skills.
Y1 teacher Jenny Townley has observed first-hand the benefits of DSR with her own class. “Daily Supported Reading has been instrumental in raising our children’s confidence and attainment levels,” she says. “We have watched nervous nonreaders steadily progress and quickly become confident and independent.
What a joy! Benchmarking the children at the end of their Reception year allowed them to be immediately placed in a group where they were able to access the texts presented to them. That meant we were able to start from the first week of term and have rarely missed a session – it’s made a huge difference.”
We’re now excited at the prospect of having been invited to become a DSR hub school. This means that Roebuck will soon be sharing its DSR practice through visiting other schools and giving visitors opportunities to observe the programme in action. We’ll also be sharing good practice with other school leaders and working closely alongside the Hackney Learning Trust.
The Hackney Learning Trust itself recently noted that “It’s a testament to the hard work by Clare and the team that the children are engaged and enthusiastic about their reading. Through DSR they are developing early reading skills, as well as keeping the story at the heart of reading. We look forward to developing DSR with Roebuck as a hub school.”
Clare Elson is a teacher at Roebuck Academy in Stevenage; more details about DSR, contact Richard Boxall at [email protected] learningtrust.co.uk