Friday, 24 September 2010

Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys

In a three-part series on BBC2 Gareth Malone rose to the challenge of raising boys' reading ages in Year's 5 and 6 in an Essex primary school. His approach? To get boys interested by doing things that interest boys, then identify the few who still aren't engaging, find out what motivates them and use that to challenge them to participate.

His strategies included lots of exercise, going outdoors, competition, debating, camping, tree climbing, den building, re-enacting battles, involving parents, boys stocking the library, dads reading to the boys around a campfire, and boys writing and performing their own play.

After eight weeks, the average reading age had gone up by 5 months, with one boy improving by 20 months, ie finally reaching his expected reading age.

It took a brave headteacher and open-minded staff to try out this experiment. While other schools may not have the budget and the cudos that comes with being on television, the principles underlying the programme can be used anywhere. It just takes courage, imagination and resourcefulness.

Children learn best when they enjoy learning. This approach can make school a better place for boys, for girls and for teachers.

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