Mentor Time Reading Programme at Scalby School

Guest Blog from Mrs E Vickers from Scalby School. 

The pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on the literacy levels of students up and down the country. One of the many strategies we have put in place to help support and develop our students’ literacy skills at Scalby School is a Mentor Time Reading Programme. We began by seeking advice from Joanne McCluskie from The Education Alliance Trust, who has had huge success with her whole school tutor ‘Read Aloud’ programme. At Scalby, students have twenty minutes a day in a mentor group. Traditionally, we have used this time to explore spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues in order to help our students become responsible and thoughtful citizens. We do still tackle these issues but now we tackle them through reading together. This way, we are able to teach our children about respect and tolerance but are also developing a community of readers at the same time.

Each year group are given a carefully chosen collection of three texts to read across the year. The mentor reads the story aloud to their mentees, modelling fluency and enthusiasm. This removes any literacy barriers students may have; it frees them from the pressures of decoding and allows them to enjoy and absorb the story. However, students have a copy of the book and may follow along, if they choose to.

The stories all contain a teenage protagonist – someone they can identify with. We feel that it is so important that students can see their lives reflected in the stories we read. It is our sincere hope that students ‘meet themselves’ somewhere in the stories as they move through the school. We meet a wide range of characters – strong male and female teenage leads, young people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, cultures and socio-economic scales – all with different abilities and life chances, but who are all united by the experience of being a teenager. A wide range of genres are also explored to develop their knowledge of a breadth of literature.

Mentors were offered some training about how to read a book aloud to our students. It sounds simple enough – but if English is not your specialism, it might feel a bit daunting. Staff have really embraced the challenge and have found the experience to be really enjoyable. Maths teacher, Rob Harrison said, ‘Reading with my mentor group has been very enriching. I love the shared experience of reading together as a group and the conversations that develop from it. The book we are reading is an excellent choice for my Year 10 mentor group as the trials that the main characters are going through are so universal and visceral for 14- and 15-years olds to relate to. I am aware that for some of the students in my mentor group that reading with me is the only reading that they do for pleasure and without the pressure of a formal question at the end of a session they can relax and enjoy the experience of reading for what it is: a rewarding and enjoyable way to spend time.’

Students are also relishing the programme. It is wonderful to see so many young people enjoying reading together. Year 8 student John Mathers said, ‘I’m really enjoying the book so far. I really like it when Mrs Noble asks us questions and we are able to discuss our ideas about what is happening. I always want to read on ahead.’

We are still in the early stages of our programme and are keen to see how it develops. It is clear to see our community of readers growing. We have experienced a big rise in footfall in the library. Students are keen to read more from the authors we’ve introduced them to (many of the books we selected are the first in a series) We’ve had to swiftly channel some more funds into our library as we were having to create waiting lists for books to return. Too many children wanting to read? What a lovely issue to have to solve!

Although the programme is largely designed to develop reading for enjoyment, we will also be monitoring the effect on our students’ reading ability by measuring their reading ages at the beginning of the year and tracking them throughout. We’ll then be able to compare any progress to that of previous years. We are delighted with how the project is developing so far. We have been really well supported by the Opportunities Area and by local businesses, enabling us to focus on developing a community of readers and instil a love of literature across our school.

The texts we have started with are:
Year 7 – Cogheart by Peter Bunzl (a dazzling adventure story – first book in a series of four)
Year 8 – Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman (a mystery/adventure story set in Victorian London – first book in the Sally Lockhart series)
Year 9 – The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G Drews (a heart-warming teen drama about two brothers, who are homeless and struggling to find their place in the world)
Year 10 – We Are All Made Of Molecules by Susin Nielsin (a realistic teen tale of what might happen when you try to blend two families together)


Funding to Support School Attendance

Schools have reported concerns about the levels of student attendance in school since March 2020, and since the start of the 2021/22 academic year. This is particularly the case for vulnerable pupils, as well as those experiencing mental health issues, and other challenges created by the pandemic.

Our aim is to improve these figures with all participating schools at – or above – national average by the end of the 2021/22 academic year. This will be through support for schools to increase the capacity of the attendance workforce to tackle persistent absenteeism and/or to engage families in other, innovative ways. Through this, we aim to promote the value of attendance across the borough and contribute to long-term change.

We would like to invite schools to apply for funding to deliver additional work to tackle persistent absence. We encourage schools to work together and will increase the funding available if they do so:

• 1 school – £1,500
• 2 schools – £3,750 (£1,875 per school)
• 3 schools – £7,031 (£2,344 per school)
• 4 schools – £11,719 (£2,930 per school)
• Bids of 5+ schools would be allowed with the funding capped at £2,930 per school

Application form

The deadline for applications is 15th December 2021. Please see completed application to

School Newsletter Stories – October

Brompton and Sawdon Community Primary School
Date of newsletter: 08/10/21
About: “The children in class 1 have also enjoyed visits from ‘superheroes’ in Mountain Rescue, the Police and Nursing this week, all of which further contribute to their wider understanding and ambition. Add to this the half termly project that each class plans in order to bring the school Pillars to life (this half term it is ‘Ready to Fly’) and I’m sure that you will agree that there is a lot happening to develop the children as individuals!”

Castleton Community Primary School
Date of newsletter: 21/10/21
About: “It was lovely to welcome everyone to the Village Hall on Monday for our harvest festival. The children were brilliant! Whether singing, signing, performing, hosting or playing an instrument, everyone did a great job. We celebrated harvest in the traditional way and took some time to think about the meaning of sharing and helping others”

Danby Church of England Voluntary Controlled School
Date of newsletter: 22/10/21
About: “We have resumed swimming lessons at Whitby Pool, Forest School lessons off site in a lovely little area of woodland a short walk from the school and many sporting events at the Whitby Secondary Schools and Rugby Club. We are already looking forward to coming back to school after half term in the run up to all the Christmas Festivities!”

Egton Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School
Date of newsletter: 22/10/21
About: “Wow, what a super busy week! The highlights this week include our lovely Harvest Festival this afternoon and a visit from a Great British Bake Off Winner!”

Glaisdale Primary School
Date of newsletter: 21/10/21
About: “As we come to the end of our first half term of the academic year, we would like to praise everyone at Team Glaisdale: Our new Reception children for adapting to life in our school so well; our older children for making the new starters feel so welcome and throwing themselves back into their new year groups and classes with such enthusiasm and resilience; our staff for continuing to nurture and teach our children in such an outstanding way”

Graham School
Date of newsletter: 22/10/21
About: “I have been hugely impressed this half term by our students; after such a long period of uncertainty and interruption to their learning, all students have settled really well this term. Our new Year 7 students seem to have been here forever and everyone else has adapted well to moving around school for lessons again. Well done Team Graham!”

Hunmanby Primary School
Date of newsletter: 06/10/21
About: “Due to the restrictions being lifted, we are looking forward to having events such as Harvest Festival, Key Stage 1 Christmas production, Christmas parties and going to the Spa Christmas Panto this term. We have also been able to start our after-school clubs again and the take-up has been excellent.”

Lindhead School
Date of newsletter: 20/10/21
About: “The children have settled in their new classes really well, and we have been lucky to be able to compete in sporting events, put on after-school clubs, have visitors into school (including our new Reception parents) and resume going on day visits.”

Overdale Community Primary School
Date of newsletter: October 21
About: “It has been a joy to have assemblies, lunchtimes and playtimes together. We have also been able to have sports coaches and music tuition in school. Our Year 6 children have started their weekly swimming session at ‘Everyone Active’ and we are looking forward to booking a Residential visit for them in the Summer Term. We are hoping to invite parents to Christmas performances and concerts too!”

Ruswarp Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School
Date of newsletter: 22/10/21
About: “We are so pleased that the last few weeks have been considerably more settled, and we are looking forward to returning to school after half term having lifted our in-school restrictions once again. This means the children will be able to play with all their friends, minus the bubble restrictions. Face masks will be optional, and we are looking forward to reintroducing after-school clubs for all children (details will be sent out after half term). We will continue to participate in all school events, increasing this to both indoor and outdoor events and we are so pleased that the Discoverers will be able to go swimming again!”

Seamer and Irton Community Primary School
Date of newsletter: 15/10/21
About: “We will be celebrating harvest in our assemblies next week. More than ever, charities are relying on the generosity and support of the community to help those who need it most. As in previous years, we would like to support the Rainbow Centre.”

Seton Community Primary School
Date of newsletter: 18/10/21
About: “It has been wonderful to feel some sense of normality once again as we’ve been able to access sporting events and curriculum visits away from school. These are the rich, memorable experiences which we know our children learn such a lot from.”

Stakesby Community Primary School
Date of newsletter: 22/10/21
About: “It was an absolute delight yesterday morning to be able to hold the very first Superstars Assembly in person since February 2020! We have all enjoyed our first full half term ‘back to normal’ and in particular, the chance to spend time with children (and staff) from other classes. It has been a real pleasure to watch our oldest children take on the role as unofficial mentors to our youngest children at lunchtimes.”

Wheatcroft Community Primary School
Date of newsletter: 22/10/21
About: “Thank you so much for your generous donations of food and other produce this week. Morrisons kindly picked up the donations and have distributed them to the Rainbow Centre in Scarborough, Salvation Army and Westway Open arms at Eastfield where they will make a real difference for some of our local community.”