Reading Pals is an ideal intervention for Breakfast Clubs for the following reasons:
- Using Reading Pals in breakfast clubs will meet many of the requirements of the new Ofsted Framework, including: ‘Inspectors will make a judgement on the personal development of learners by evaluating the extent to which: the curriculum and the provider’s wider work support learners to develop their character – including their resilience, confidence and independence – and help them know how to keep physically and mentally healthy.’ During an Ofsted inspection, in Summer 2019, the Inspector was very impressed by the use of Reading Pals in the breakfast club: ‘The inspector commented positively on the reading focus at the sessions. He commented on the excellent peer support and skills in questioning.’ Emma Bolton – Headteacher, Queens Park Academy, Bedford
- Excellent use of Pupil Premium grants. Children can be targeted to take part in Reading Pals in the breakfast club, who would benefit from reading, speech and language development but also be part of the ‘Wider strategies,’ that ‘relate to the most significant non-academic barriers to success in school, including attendance, behaviour and social and emotional support.’ EEF Pupil Premium Guidance 2019
Adding Value to the School Day
- There is no need to withdraw the children from different lessons, the children present are already of mixed ages.
- It adds value to the cost of running the club. Reading Pals Monitors can be responsible for setting up and putting away, so very little support needed from the Club Staff.
- It is a focused, calm activity which helps to ‘settle’ the children before the school day begins.
- It is an excellent way to sensitively target vulnerable children to enjoy Reading Pals and have a healthy breakfast before school. Some parents of children offered free breakfast do not take up the offer, perhaps due to stigma, or not understanding the importance of breakfast. Many of these parents will make the effort to bring their children earlier if they feel it will help to raise their child’s academic achievement.
- Added enjoyment of the school day. In practice when used in breakfast clubs the children have really enjoyed taking part and enthusiastically volunteered to be involved. ‘Breakfast Pals is a big part of our Breakfast Club. The older children always ask to read even on days they are not expected to. They love having the responsibility of helping the younger children and in return the younger children prefer to read with a child rather than an adult.’ Learning Mentor – St Aloysius Infants School, Camden
Reading Pals can be used flexibly in ways that works for each school.
- Reading Pals can be introduced as an additional activity with the children already present
- Children who would benefit from additional reading support, speech and language development, earlier arrival at school, a healthy free breakfast, can be invited to the club. This could be for the whole hour, or a 20 minute soft-start before the bell.
- Children can be allocated pairs that come at the same time each week; or there can be flexible system, where the Older Pals partner any of the Younger Pals wishing to take part.
Examples of Good Practice
St Aloysius Infants School, Camden
The Learning Mentor used Reading Pals as the reason to invite children, she considered to be most vulnerable, to come to a free, targeted breakfast club. She nominated Monitors who would set-up and put away the books and the children worked independently, leaving her free to supervise the breakfast. All children were expected to eat their healthy breakfast first. There were other activities available so the children could rotate activities but many chose to do Reading Pals every morning. There was a significant positive impact on attendance, lateness and behaviour issues in class for the children who joined the breakfast provision. Using Reading Pals as the reason for the invitation meant more parents brought their children to school earlier and it removed stigma associated with an invitation based on low income alone.
Rye Oak School, Peckham
Reading Pals was introduced into the already running, large breakfast club, which had as many as 80 children attending on one day. The monitors set-up and put away the scheme. Younger Pals would fetch their book and reading record and find an Older Pal waiting for them at the designated table, after they had eaten their breakfast.
Give a Book charity generously contributed a Book Club, children could select from the range of new, carefully chosen books. The staff noticed that the Older Pals, having gained confidence from using the Reading Pals scaffolded question scripts, were keen to then help the younger children choose and read books from the Book Club. The Older Pals also started offering to listen to the younger children read their allocated homework books. The Older Pals were able to check their comprehension and write positive and meaningful comments in the Younger Pals homework books. For many children, who had not been supported with their reading at home, this meant they were able to complete their homework in the club and not worry that their books had not been signed.
The Forest Academy – Rebecca Hancock, Literacy Coordinator, PhD with specialist interest in literacy
‘Good news though… We kicked PALS off last Friday. It’s going really well. Each person has their own partner that they always read with – I’ve done it this way so that we always have the two year age gap.
We’ve marketed it as the magic breakfast book club. Every member has their own pass/badge that they wear all day (and love). They also receive one sticker every time they read and a bonus point (points they collect to spend in the prize shop) if they read two days in a row. We are going to have ‘reading pair of the week’ in our celebration assemblies too.’