Where do beginner readers read in the English, mainstream primary school and where could they read?
Where do beginner readers read in the English, mainstream primary school and where could they read? Emma Jane Dyer
This thesis explores design for the beginner reader in Year One by evaluating existing spaces in the English primary school and imagining new ones. Three significant gaps identified in the literature of reading, the teaching of reading and school design are addressed: the impact of reading pedagogies, practices and routines on spatial arrangements for beginner readers inside and beyond the classroom; a theoretical understanding of the physical, bodily and sensory experience of the beginner reader; and the design of reading spaces by teaching staff.
The study uses a design-oriented research methodology and framework proposed by Fällman. A designed artefact is a required outcome of the research: in this case, a child-sized, semi-enclosed book corner known as a nook.
The research was organized in three phases. First, an initial design for the nook was created, based on multi-disciplinary, theoretical research about reading, school design and architecture. Secondly, empirical research using observation, pupil-led tours and interviews was undertaken in seven primary schools to determine the types of spaces where readers read: spaces that were often unsuitable for their needs. Thirdly, as a response to the findings of phases one and two, the nook was reconceived to offer a practical solution to poorly-designed furniture for reading in schools and to provoke further research about the ideal qualities of spaces for the beginner reader.
The study demonstrates how the experience of the individual reader is affected by choices made about the national curriculum; by the size of schools and the spaces within them where readers can learn; by the design of classrooms by teachers; and by regulatory standards for teaching and non-teaching spaces. In developing a methodology that can stimulate and facilitate communication between architects, educators, policy-makers and readers, this thesis offers a valuable contribution to the ongoing challenge of improving school design for practitioners and pupils.