St Julian's School
A forward-thinking Welsh secondary school has enlisted the support of RM Books to help it rise to the challenge of a national and international drive towards excellence in literacy.
St Julian’s, an 11-18 school in Newport, is using RM’s pioneering ebook solution across the curriculum and in all areas of the school. It’s creating a real buzz about reading and learning and a shift in perception among the students, as books step into the 21st century.
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The head, Denise Richards, explains the sense of urgency behind this drive to get students reading. She refers to a recent international comparison of reading abilities by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in which Wales scored badly.
“The Welsh agenda for literacy is very high-profile at the moment, in relation to what’s come back on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores internationally, and how poorly Wales has performed. There’s also the introduction of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework and the national numeracy and literacy testing.”
What RM Books has been able to do is engage students in reading who wouldn’t normally have done so and to get them to see that there’s a lot of exciting reading and learning to be done by using a different format of book
David Beesley, Assistant Headteacher, finds RM Books helpful in addressing some of the priorities in the Welsh Literacy Framework, designed to drive up attainment in reading and writing. In particular, RM Books has helped students develop reading strategies:
“We are using RM Books not only within traditional lessons but to enhance literacy across the school, with all members of staff taking responsibility for it.”
Electronic books can be checked out by any number of students at the same time. They can use them in different areas around the school, not just in traditional classroom lessons.
Hilary Collins, Learning Resource Centre Manager, played a key part in choosing from the thousands of resources available on RM Books. In researching the vast online catalogue she found that the range extends right across the curriculum as well as bringing a range of fantastic interactive features into play.
“When I was searching the books we noticed that some of the geography textbooks that our ‘A’ level students use were part of the programme. Within the space of one lesson we realised how useful this system would be. They could not only read the book online, but by installing the app they could download the book and use it offline. They could also annotate the pages and bookmark them, and search for specific terms.”
The huge library of classic fiction is also proving very useful, for students of all abilities at the crucial Year 9 stage, getting ready to start GCSEs. Says Hilary:
“We’ve found that our top Year 9s are expected to read a classic text before they go into Year 10, to ease them into GCSE level. Again, within RM Books all those classics are there.”
“Also, our Learning Support Department do a lot of paired reading. With reluctant readers, you’re looking for any way to engage them with reading. They were very enthusiastic about trying it with the Year 9s too.”
I enjoy RM Books. It’s just like having loads of books in your pocket
The school is hoping to use RM Books for children joining the school in Year 7. David Beesley says: “What we’d like to do in the future is to work on ‘future transition’ projects with our local primary schools. We would like to encourage the students in Year 6 to be reading books over the summer holidays. Then they could present to their classes, their peers and their friends in Year 7, when they join St Julian’s.
Denise sums up the impact of RM Books and how it’s transforming students’ opinions about reading:
“We are really excited about using technology to improve the literacy of our students. Many students are turned off by books and view them as very old-fashioned – not something they want to get involved in.
On the other hand, they see technology as being very trendy. So by getting involved with RM Books we could combine technology with literacy and get students involved in reading in a much more 21st-century way. Already we’re seeing them start to engage with that – there’s been a very positive response so far.”
What I enjoy about RM Books is that it enhances my learning. I can go home and do it on my phone, on my computer or on my iPad.