Success story: Kamran

Kamran got through the first years of primary school relying on his friend to read things for him. Then his friend left and he was lost. Here is how our Literacy Lab is helping to turn things around.

Concentrating hard, Kamran slots the wings into a foam aeroplane. “We need this big fin so that the wind can lift up the weight,” he explains. Aged eight, Kamran is in Year 3 at a primary school in a deprived area of Peckham. He is bright, has great attention to detail and a fascination with all things technical. The aeroplane building activity is part of his Literacy Lab session with Sue, his tutor. “The activity is designed to check a child’s motor skills and reasoning,” explains Sue. “I’ve done it with all of the children and Kamran was the only one who did it accurately first time.” The aeroplane is set aside to be returned to later in what is a dynamic and jam-packed 45 minutes…

When Kamran first came to the Literacy Lab, he couldn’t read at all. He has a diagnosis of ADHD and sitting still can be a struggle. “In the first session, he was bouncing off the walls,” explains Sue. “I had to say to him ‘if you don’t stop I’ll have to take you back to class’. He looked at me and said, ‘Please don’t take me back to class. I want to learn to read.’”

In subsequent weeks, Sue has been working with him on a structured programme, with short, multi-sensory activities designed to maintain his interest. During the session, Kamran leads an energetic game of Simon Says, revises letters and sounds by pointing at a grid, grabs Post-it notes with high frequency words on down from the wall, traces letters in couscous, posts words down a chute, then reads a book and builds key words using blocks. There are lots of successes to celebrate along the way. For example, with Sue’s encouragement, he sounds out then blends to read the word ‘bunkbed’, and seeks out the ‘t’ block he needs to complete the word ‘tent’.

At the end of the session, Sue brings back the aeroplane as a stimulus for a writing exercise. To start with, Kamran is absorbed with drawing the aeroplane, adding details such as passengers and explaining how they are protected by the metal. Sue encourages him to write a sentence about it. ‘I think the plane is fast and has a big engine,’ he starts to write. Then he wants to extend the sentence to add ‘because it has an engineer.’

Just before he goes back to class, she asks him to say what he thinks he did really well that day. He smiles proudly and says, “I remembered all my sounds. I read my book. And I wrote my sentence.” Considering at the start of the school year he couldn’t read at all, he’s come a long way.

With regard to our support, the deputy head teacher at Kamran’s school said, “I was very impressed with the accuracy of the reading assessment carried out. This has provided us with an alternative set of data to understand the specific needs of a child and ensure that he is better supported going forward.

Find out what further educational professionals say about our Literacy Labs.