Simple recipe...

Behind Pudsey’s and Victoria Park’s differing

approaches to develop independent learners





Replicate Pudsey Grangefield School and Victoria Park Primary Academy’s approach towards independent and topic based learning by first understanding their simple recipe:





  • Delegate credit to teachers. Admin accounts can set teachers a credit limit so you can budget for this study. Teachers won’t actually need much of a limit as most book short rentals are under £1.
  • Train teachers. so they know how to approve students’ book requests and annotate books effectively.
  • Select your students by creating suitable groups. Shireland focused on their transition Yr6 students.


  • Explain that students can choose the topic books they think will be useful on RM Books, showing lots of examples of books you think may be relevant to their projects.
  • If you’re making budgeting part of the challenge within the project, tell each student or group or students what they have to spend.
  • Reinforce that they get to choose whatever they like. Choice seems to increase enthusiasm for reading and helps students make good use of their chosen resources.


  • Explain they can read and conduct their research whenever they like, including at home on games systems, their own phones or tablets, as well as in school on devices in rooms X, Y, Z and the library, and when those rooms are open. You don’t want any barriers to reading and research. Project team meetings can take place outside lesson time if necessary. Students can annotate titles to highlight key areas of interest.
  • Support the various projects with timetabled independent research time, such as an hour a week in the library or a classroom. 
  • Provide internet-connected devices (PCs, tablets, netbooks) for all students during that hour, or, trust students to use their own SmartPhones or tablets for reading at school.

  • Send students their logins. They’ll no doubt discover the offline apps for themselves. This email template will help you do that quickly.
  • If you’re giving students a project budget for resources, show them how the pricing works in RM Books and encourage them to think about how long they’ll need access to the material and when they’d like their rentals to start, so they make best use of the books and budget.
  • Show students how they can combine search keywords and left hand filters in RM Books to find books that are appropriate for their independent learning. Show students how to read the publisher’s description and preview the first few pages of a book to be confident their chosen title is going to be useful for their project. 
  • Step through requesting a book, showing the students your screen so they can see how easily you can grant those requests.



Section 4d

  • You can see students’ book requests by logging in to RM Books and checking the number next to “Book requests” at the top left within “My links”. Click “Book requests” to see the requested books. Click the “View request” button to see which students have requested each book.
  • Grant a student’s request by then clicking “Allocate” > “Individual person”, start typing the student’s name and select them from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, if students are requesting books for their project team, allocate the book to that pre-defined group by “Allocate” > “A Group”, and select the group name from the drop-down menu. Choose “Rental” and pick the appropriate time period from the drop-down menu, typically 7 or 30 days. Click “Allocate now” and “Confirm allocation”, then your student or group of students will have the book to read. 

“RM Books has helped develop reading ability within our class. We have done a topic about soap recently where the children have had their own companies and developed their own areas of expertise.” Assistant Head – Victoria Park Primary Academy

  • It’s a great feeling to see requests for books come in from your students, so seize the moment and grant those requests quickly. All teachers can grant book requests, so divide the task between you and colleagues so you check and grant requests a few times a day. Ensure you check and grant requests in the evening, as many requests are likely to come through then.
  • You can reject requests for the minority of occasions where the book isn’t relevant to their project. However, where the book is relevant to the topic but you suspect the level may be a little too hard, it may be worth granting those requests anyway and just use the “Reports” usage monitoring screen to check how they’re getting on. Rejecting requests can be quite demotivating and anyway, you may be pleasantly surprised
  • Positively reinforce their choice with each student. Have regular reviews with each group to make sure that they are on track and are using appropriate titles to support their research.
Section 5

 5. Monitor the research reading that is taking place

  • During the project, you can easily monitor which students are researching and reading books and for how long using the “Reports” section of RM Books. Choose “Users” and select your students to see a breakdown. Optionally, if you’ve added these students to a Group, e.g. “iSchool Project Group 3”, selecting that group will speed-up finding students. You can export this reading data for your records.
  • This usage reporting is only visible to teachers. You could choose to show students you have these screens and use the data with students in one-to-one discussions or during mid-project reviews.


  • Use reading monitoring to engage in a dialogue about topic books chosen with your students, to intervene where progress is not being made, and as evidence to praise progress on their independent project. 
  • You will no doubt have your own way to measure the learning that has taken place during the project, e.g. an end-of-project team presentation and report, an electronic learning log of material authored by students during their project as videos, ebooks they create, reports, presentations etc, or maybe a small test.
Not only did the students prefer learning independently through i-School, i-School students showed a 15% increase in attainment relative to their peers in regular classes.
Ken Cornforth, Principal, Pudsey Grangefield School

Further inspiration