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Wyvern Academy Year 8s jump a year in reading age in just six months after £8k invested in books

This Christmas every Wyvern Academy child will receive a new gift-wrapped book, as part of a successful focus on literacy across the school. A programme launched last year, tailored to each child, has created a reading culture that is now reaping rewards.


Last year, Year 8 students at Wyvern Academy, which is part of Consilium Academies, saw a remarkable jump in their reading age, thanks to the programme. The Year 8s increased their reading age by a whole year in the six months from November 2021 to May 2022, while their peers in Year 9 jumped an impressive 10 months in that time, as well as Year 7s who saw their reading age rise by 7 months.


In total Wyvern has invested in £8k worth of books. Wyvern bought 3,000 new books to stock its library further. All books given out to children in Years 7 to 9 are based on their reading age, as checked at the start of the year and as part of ongoing checks after each book. Students in Years 10 and 11 got to choose from novels such as 1984, Animal Farm and Treasure Island.


Every student who has joined Wyvern in Year 7 this year has been given a copy of Number 1 bestseller You Are Awesome. They have studied the book with the aim of inspiring and empowering them to find the confidence they need when they start school and in the longer-term to realise their potential. 


The literacy programme has become integral to school life, at the start of every lesson students in Years 7 to 10 read for 5 minutes and then discuss the questions posed on their Wyvern bookmarks to ensure they understand what they’re reading, and so teachers can see clearly where interventions might be needed. Surveys of both parents and students have also informed the roll out of the programme.


Eve Hutchinson, Year 7 at Wyvern Academy, said:
"At Wyvern we are given more time than at my primary school to read. The book I was given told me how to be awesome in my own way.”


Owain Moss, Year 7 at Wyvern Academy, said:
"I loved getting the books at the start of the year, and there is a great variety to choose from. I find reading is challenging but really beneficial to my learning.”


Jonny Willis, Literacy Coordinator and Associate Assistant Headteacher for Quality of Education at Wyvern Academy, said:
“Our renewed focus on literacy has seen our students excel in this last year. We know this because we are checking their understanding regularly so we can tailor the programme to their abilities and interests. The students enjoy the online tests they take after each book, they’re constantly trying to beat their last score and it’s wonderful to see them progressing so quickly.


“It’s our job to ensure they have the understanding they need to improve. Some students may look like their understanding is fine on the surface, but we need to drill down and ensure it’s all sinking in. Where they have needed an extra boost to engage them in literacy, we’ve factored that in. For example, we’ve seen a massive leap in engagement from boys in Year 8 and 9 after we saw they loved books about football, so we bought more of those and centred our learning around their interests further.”


Owen Inglis, Headteacher at Wyvern Academy, part of Consilium Academies, said:
“Mr Willis has led a hugely successful literacy programme for our students. The students have stepped up to the challenge and have obviously enjoyed this focus on reading too. But we couldn’t have done it without the support of their parents and carers too. We want to bring their families on this journey with us, that’s why we provide them with termly reports on their child’s progress in reading.


“Our literacy focus will go from strength-to-strength this year as we have welcomed our new Director of English and our new librarian, who are ensuring that literacy becomes yet more integral to school life here. This year we will also launch our peer-to-peer literacy mentoring programme, empowering our students to support others in younger years.”