Last month saw the exciting launch event of Reading the Way which shared the findings of a groundbreaking pilot conducted by Novus in partnership with the Prison Reading Groups charity, UCL Institute of Education and the Claire Collins Consultancy.
Inspiring learners into reading
In the spring, HMP Liverpool and HMP Thameside trialled participant-led groups where prisoners who were new to reading or wanted to gain confidence could experience texts being read aloud without the pressure of having to read aloud unless they wanted to.
While a short story was chosen by the facilitators to be read over the 5 weeks of the pilot, learners also got involved themselves by choosing a wide selection of texts to be read such as song lyrics, recipes, letters, poems and TV scripts.
The pilots were a huge success, which saw learners gradually gain confidence in reading, responding to and choosing texts. Learners who openly stated at the start that they did not see themselves as readers were recommending poems to other learners who weren't part of the group just a few weeks in.
Overall, the pilot was a positive experience for learners who spoke positively about the project:
There's not much I look forward to. But I look forward to this.
The positive feedback received by learners shows the value of the groups in helping the participants gain a feeling of belonging and realising texts can be read in a number of ways which lead to greater confidence in reading aloud.
Reading the Way allows learners to engage in reading in various ways and enables them to find their own enjoyment for reading.
Showcasing learners hard work and efforts at the Reading the Way launch event
Over 100 people attended the launch event to find out about the outcomes from the pilot including a large range of stakeholders involved in the prison education sector such as learning and skills managers, representatives from different prison education providers and prison inspectors.
At the event, Ester Kelly, the reading strategy lead for Lot 6 and other pilot group facilitators explained:
- How learners were recruited
- The structure of the sessions
- Outcomes and feedback
- Overall ethos of Reading the Way
The event was successful and generated a lot of interest with guests speaking positively about the event and the pilot:
Very interesting, very exciting. I hope we can do something with it here.
I cannot wait to discuss this with my Learning Experience Manager and get something started.
Novus is very proud of its involvement in the pilot and launch event due to the positive impact on past and future learners. Learners who initially avoided reading have gained in confidence and now choose to engage with texts independently.
The pilot was such a huge success that Reading the Way is continuing at HMP Liverpool and HMP Thameside with plans to gradually set up further groups at other prisons.
Projects like this all contribute to our reading strategy, which is a real focus of the Government, highlighted by the one year on update to their national reading agenda.
Interested in our reading agenda and our drive to engage more learners in reading education? Read more on our website.