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Profile3rd March 2023

Helping children love reading is the gateway to everything

Hannah Schofield-Newton is a Year 2 class teacher and part of the senior leadership team at Ark Atwood Primary. We spoke to her about her work as the Network Lead for Early Reading and why it’s essential for children to foster a love of reading from an early age. Hannah’s story is part of our #ArkPeople series.

Bringing reading to life

Throughout my life, I have loved music and the performing arts, and I felt teaching was a job where I could use these skills every day. I’ve always loved working with children and seeing them learn. In teaching, you’re always performing to make things enjoyable or exciting, and I love bringing things to life for children.

I trained with Teach First and worked at a school near Wembley before moving to Ark Atwood, where I am a phonics leader. Ark’s early reading approach interested me, so when the Network Lead role came up, I went for it.

I truly believe reading is the gateway to all other subjects. Once you’ve learned to read, you can read to learn. If we can plug the gaps now and get children on track to where they need to be, that will help them long term.

In my role, I see the broader picture alongside what I do in class. My work examines how we can help embed strategies and support our teachers. I’m working with a fantastic team that includes Ellie Whitehorn and Johanna Klinsky, and there’s so much experience and expertise across the group.

Working with parents and families is a big part of what I do. I’m looking at how we share information with parents about their child’s reading journey and how they can support reading at home. This can be as simple as telling parents what their child is working on and explaining what they can do to help take them to the next stage – like reading to them and talking about the book together.

There’s a lot of passion for reading across our schools. Our learning environments are beautifully and carefully created to inspire children to read. Our schools have excellent libraries, which instantly encourage children to explore books and develop a love of reading.

We use the Read Write Inc programme, and teachers are enthusiastic about delivering this in a well-targeted way. When I’m in school, I’m coaching to fine-tune areas, and I’m also assessing – moving children on to the next stage and implementing interventions for the children needing more help.

Ark’s culture and ethos

I want to be in the Ark network because the support you get here is fantastic – I wouldn’t be in this role without it. I’ve had training on phonics development and reading signature strategies, coaching and support for my NPQSL last year, plus lead practitioner training. I’ve had so many opportunities to grow – I feel very grateful to Ark for that.

I also love collaborating as a network within subjects and year group teams. We are all passionate about our pupils reaching their full potential and working together to support every child so that they can become a confident reader.