Reading Recovery Europe


Developing practice to enable all children to read with enjoyment

Whitefield Primary School is in the Everton ward in the north of the city of Liverpool. It is an area of significant social and economic disadvantage. Ninety-seven percent of the ward falls in the most deprived 5% of neighbourhoods nationally; eighty-four percent is in the most 1% of deprived areas nationally. Child poverty levels are high; fifty-five percent of children live in poverty and 68% of children are entitled to free school meals. Foundation Stage Baseline Data for 2013 showed that 89% of pupils were below expected standards in reading and writing on entry to school.

We used the National Literacy Trust Reading Attitudes survey, combined with school based surveys, to find information about reading for pleasure in the school and the wider community. Our National Literacy Trust survey (statistics on reading for pleasure) showed that 25% of children had between one and 10 books at home, and that 40% own between 11 and 100 books. Pupil responses included "I like reading. I like listening to stories, but I have no books at home," and "I don't have many books at home. No one reads to me at home. I like reading".

A specific improvement plan for the development of reading for pleasure was written collaboratively with parents, children and staff.

What we did

Improving the learning environments

We allocated the Pupil Premium funding to create a new school library (the local library is closed three days per week and under threat of total closure). Children designed the library and had extensive input into stock selection. All children have access to it and the library is managed by the children.

Pupils designed an inviting reading area for each classroom, and each class received a budget to purchase books, magazine subscriptions, etc. Display boards highlight 'Reader of the week', recommended book lists, information on blogging sites, etc. In addition, we helped provide access to free ebooks on pupils' and parents' mobile devices. 

Parent and community engagement


This included the following:

  • weekly sessions for parents and toddlers ('Time for a Rhyme')
  • an adult reading group ('Take a Break')
  • a weekly reading group for men and children ('Fab Dads and Granddads')
  • after school access to the library for the whole family, three times a week ('Reading Rocks Cafe')
  • an accredited course for parents to learn how to share books with their children and the importance of literacy as a life skill
  • parents read in different languages in class
  • multilingual parents volunteered to read to English as additional language children. 
  • a local youth club where children get to write and publish their own stories ('Zap').

Whole school approach

Reading was given a high profile in whole school assemblies. One class per week nominated an 'author of the week', in which books by that author were displayed in the foyer. Regular time was allocated for reading for pleasure. Key stimulating texts were studied as part of the curriculum.  A year planner of events was mapped out. We were successful in our bid, via the Green Schools Project and the University of Liverpool, to set up a 'Wildflower Reading Corner'.  Reading buddies (local 6th form support Year 5 and 6, while Year 6 children support Year 2) help their peers.

Staff training

Staff received training, via Continuing Professional Development sessions, on the importance of reading for pleasure and how to provide quality opportunities to read for enjoyment. Three teaching assistants attended a course on how to 'Read Aloud' with children.


A consistent whole school approach is vital. Monitoring provision is essential to sustain impact. To achieve your vision, you need to have consistent action.

We are pleased with our achievements. Dedicated time for reading for pleasure has increased, with at least 150 parents involved every week. From a very low starting point our free school meals pupils' performance is now significantly above that of comparable pupils nationally. We are in the top 1% of ranking for Key Stage 1 to 2 progress for reading in England. The percentage of children at Level 5+ reading is now significantly above the national average. Comments from parents have included "I love coming to read with my children… the atmosphere is so relaxed, we have fun," and "I have never read a book before for myself…now I can't wait to read the next one".