Why have a Reading for Pleasure Policy
Since March 2012 it has been an OFSTED requirement that all state schools in the country have a Reading for Pleasure Policy (see Moving English Forward paras. 65 – 71, pages 29-31). Although this is obviously not obligatory for Independent schools, several LIPSSEE members have reported that they have been asked by their English Depts. to produce just such a policy. As promoting a whole-school reading for enjoyment ethic is our field of expertise perhaps it could do no harm for us all to have such a policy? There is also the possibility of course that our ISI inspectors will not come and visit the library or even speak to us, but by submitting a Reading for Pleasure Policy along with all our other paperwork, we can show what the library is doing to promote and develop reading throughout the school
What should a Reading for Pleasure Policy include?
A quick internet search will bring up loads of examples but The Teachers’ Organisation produced some very useful guidance at the time on how to draft a comprehensive Reading for Pleasure policy. Unfortunately the original document is no longer available but a brief resume of all the main points can be found below.
A School Reading for Pleasure Policy or Statement should include the following:
- a statement on who/what the policy is for
- a clear outline of the difference between the Reading for Pleasure Policy and the school Literacy Policy: this is absolutely necessary as literacy is a direct effect of reading for enjoyment and we must ensure that we make the difference between the two very clear.
- a statement about the importance of using the widest definition of reading to include things like newspapers, e-books, comics, graphic novels, picture books etc. This is the point in your policy where you decide on your school’s definition of reading for pleasure. Ideally you want to use the widest definition possible and have it officially accepted in order to challenge any possible decisions that are made in the future that may threaten our pupils’ right to choose what they want to read.
- a statement on the value of reading for pleasure and how it links to wider academic, social and emotional development: use authoritative and recent sources and quote from these in order to give clear evidence of its impact and benefits
- access and equalities issues in relation to reading for pleasure. This should include accessible formats as well as consideration of the content of the books made available for use by the children: your policy must clearly state a commitment of the library to provide different books and resources in different formats in order to meet the needs of your students (i.e audiobooks, dyslexia-friendly publications, ebooks, books in other languages, etc.). There must be an official acknowledgement that students may prefer to access stories in formats other than printed. This is also particularly important in terms of the financial impact simply because books in different formats cost more than simple paperbacks!
- the importance of the role of the teacher and other adults in school in relation to fostering a love of reading through a wide range of activities: this is the point in your policy when you acknowledge the importance of using role models in the school to support your message and that every single member of staff is responsible for reinforcing a positive attitude towards reading for enjoyment. This is a good time to get your Headteacher on board with this idea
- how reading for pleasure is encouraged across the curriculum and not just limited to English lessons – make sure to mention, maybe in a series of bullet points, what the library is doing to promote this and give some concrete examples. Just brief descriptions rather than anything complex and too detailed
- a statement about the importance of making home-school links and how, by giving practical examples, the library contributes to this by empowering parents to support their children’s reading. Even if you just attend parents’ literacy evenings or academic review days with a library stand and give posters out, include this in your policy!
- a statement about the importance of making links with and using the local public library
- a commitment by the school to ensuring that all pupils have regular access to the school library, properly staffed and resourced. Include mention of timetabled library periods when quiet reading, book talk and browsing can take place, but do not forget to include the opportunities pupils have to visit your library at their own free will to browse or borrow a book at break, lunchtimes and before/after school
- a statement on the budget share for reading and library resources – it should be adequately funded on an annual basis, in line with other school budget areas
- implications for professional development and support: is the school ready to give you opportunity to lead staff insets regarding the latest children literature or on how to promote reading for pleasure in the classroom? Is the school ready to acknowledge that you need time to attend professional courses?
- a commitment to evaluate the Reading for Pleasure Policy. A Reading for Pleasure Policy should be reviewed ideally once every year.