How the programme works
Children aged 9-12 years old attend a weekly session online or in one of our pirate-themed learning centres in Hackney and Haringey. Our qualified teachers led a two hour session. They’re joined by a community of volunteers who support reading practice as well as support the children to write stories that are published in exciting real-life publications like books, films and apps.
All that practice, plus a relentlessly positive atmosphere, helps children make 16 months progress in their reading age in less than an academic year. That gives them a crucial boost in skills and confidence, so they can better succeed at school.
Children who are quietly under-achieving and have fewer opportunities, face specific challenges to catch-up. That’s been exacerbated by Covid 19 where many families have not had the resources to support home learning.
Our programme is devised and led by teachers, informed by our experience and the evidence about what works.
Take a look at some of that evidence below.
Extra attention boosts learning
Teaching one to one and in small groups both have a positive impact on children’s attainment, according to Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)’s Teaching and Training Learning Toolkit review. The review features literacy interventions and highlights a particular impact for children who struggle in class, receiving extra help outside of school hours and where the instructors are skilled teachers or well-trained volunteers.
Mistakes are no bad thing
John Hattie’s review shows that expert teachers create environments where it’s okay to make mistakes. A good learning environment and challenging goals each have an effect of over six months learning progress. Our teachers create a safe space for making mistakes and give children practical challenges to work towards.
[Hattie, 2009: “Visible Learning”; Hattie, 2003: “Teachers make a difference”]
Write. Feed back. Write again.
Teaching writing in an active way – with plenty of feedback in between drafts – helps children better understand and improve their writing. That’s shown in reviews of writing interventions by the EEF, as well as Donald Graves’ work. Through our published projects, children get to experience every stage of the writing process.
[EEF and National Literacy Trust, 2013: “Transforming Writing”]
Choosing books helps children enjoy reading
Our reading sessions are built around research on Reading for Pleasure. We know that talking about reading, creating an environment that celebrates it, and giving children the chance to choose what they want to read all help foster a love of reading.
[CLPE, 2018: “Reading for Pleasure, What we know works”]
The more fun we have, the more we read
The Department for Education (DfE) paper shows that reading for pleasure has a positive impact on broader learning outcomes. The review links enjoying reading to better tests results, and shows that reading for pleasure is a stronger indicator of academic success than socio economic background.
[DfE, 2012: “Research evidence for reading for pleasure”]
Thinking about the way we learn boosts progress
Metacognitive approaches – or thinking about thinking – have a big impact, with the EEF they can boost learning by eight months. A big part of that is having shared language for learning, as Watkins and the EEF have shown. We listen to and develop the learning voices of children we work with. We do that through modelling, co-construction and guided reflection using tools like the Pirate Log.