READ ME A STORY! BLOG        21st April 2018


 I read a sad report that monosyllabic adolescents may be nothing new, but the latest research suggests a big chunk of them do not know enough words to do well at school.

According to academics, four out of 10 pupils in their first year of secondary school have such a limited vocabulary that it is affecting their learning.

Many teachers from the 800 secondaries involved in the Oxford University Press research say the problem is worsening.

They blame the “word gap” on too little reading for pleasure.

Studies suggest breadth of vocabulary is strongly influenced by the number of words a child comes into contact with on a daily basis.

This includes conversations with parents, siblings and friends, as well as what they read.


The report, focusing on schools in England, says the number of pupils with limited vocabulary remains “stubbornly high” across all age groups, despite a range of programmes addressing literacy.

And 80% of the teachers surveyed said children with limited vocabulary would find it “extremely challenging” to understand test papers.

A very high proportion of the teachers said the word gap held back progress in not just English (91%), but in history (90%), geography (86%) and religious studies (78%).

Lionel Bolton, of the Oxford University Press, said: “Whether a child is 11 years old and in Year 7, or 16 years old and in Year 11, if there are words in a task that they do not understand, they will struggle to complete the task.

“The 11-year-old is likely to be able to ask for help or access a dictionary; a 16 year old in their GCSE exam cannot.

“And if they do understand all the words in the task, if their vocabulary is lower than their age, their written response may be less articulate, less effective, and ultimately achieve a lower mark.

“This of course is not new – it has ever been thus.

“But with the changes that have been brought in by the new GCSE exams – increased rigour, removal of controlled assessment, and tiering in most subjects – the vocabulary challenges posed are even more pronounced.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders – and an English teacher for 32 years – said: “In reality the word gap will depend on your circumstances rather than your choices – your home, your family, the richness of language and relations, the presence of books and conversations, the habits you form as you grow up.

“These are things largely beyond our control.”


As usual with these reports they tell you the problem, period. No definitive answers.As usual books hold a large part of the answer. But give a child a book and because of all the other distractions they will not be interested. There is a great deal of interaction required between you the book and the child. To befin with not only read the book; read it with drama in your voice. Add to the book and develop your childs imagination beyond the words being read to he or she. Gradually they will understand the magic a book holds and finding the excitement in the book becomes automatic.

Gradually and this takes months not days or weeks of short end of the day or bedtime stories the child’s love of books grows and grows along with an enhanced life.

I also read that due to busy lives the importance of bedtime stories are being overlooked for children.

Please, I beg of you. Drop anything from your busy schedule to make your day work for you but do not drop bedtime reads. Apart from helping as described above it also helps build that special closeness between you and your child and warm, fond memories that stay with you both forever.


Never give in, never! Be it concerning large things or small things, never, never, never! – Winston Churchill


Happiness is…reading a bedtime story to your children at the end of a hectic shitty day


What is the most important thing to learn in chemistry? Never lick the spoon.


Love is…the smile that banishes your blues


American Pie – Don McLean

Highest Chart Position: No.2 4th March 1972