What does research say about reading at our school?

Last term, Mr D’Souza – who is also a Government-funded PhD researcher in Education at the University of Exeter – conducted some research into reading at our school. Statistical tests were run on data from a survey and recent comprehension test scores. His findings reflect, and were supported by, national trends.

In summary, his report found the following:

1) Students’ attainment in reading comprehension tests correlated significantly with their knowledge of the reading comprehension strategies that we have been teaching them this year.

  • Pupils have been explicitly taught how to monitor their reading (when it doesn’t make sense/asking questions/highlighting aspects) and how to make inferences (reading between the lines/filling in the gaps).  This term we are looking at visualising and summarising. The better they know these strategies, the better they do in comprehension tests (which is what they sit for SATs and GCSEs).

2) As part of the data collection, children reported how much time they spent reading each night. KS2 students who read more each night achieved significantly higher scores in reading comprehension tests than KS2 students who read for less than their allotted time.

  • This is why we are constantly checking that reading is happening at home this year.

3) KS2 students’ attainment in reading tests did not correlate significantly with their attitude towards reading.

  • Pupils don’t need to enjoy reading to be good at it. When they tell you at home that they don’t want to, or don’t like it – tough!
  • We still want to develop a love of reading though. An additional finding was that there was a strong positive correlation between time spent reading at home and the children’s enjoyment of reading. So, if they read more, they can ultimately expect to enjoy it more.
  • The National Literacy Trust used their new mental wellbeing index, which combines life satisfaction, coping skills and self-belief variables into a scale from 1 to 10 to explore the impact of school libraries on mental wellbeing. Their findings show that children and young people who use the school library have, on average, higher mental wellbeing scores. Those who don’t use the school library are nearly twice as likely to have low mental wellbeing than they are to have high mental wellbeing.

Here are some reminders and expectations for reading

Minimum reading time expected each day at home

Reception – 5 minutes          Year 1 – 10 minutes

Year 2 – 15 minutes               Year 3 – 20 minutes

Year 4 – 25 minutes           Year 5 – 30 minutes

Year 6 – 35 minutes

Expected book band levels for Reception and Key Stage 1 – where is your child now?

  1. Pink
  2. Red
  3. Yellow – by the end of Reception
  4. Blue
  5. Green
  6. Orange
  7. Turquoise –  by the end of year 1
  8. Purple
  9. Gold
  10. White –  by the end of year 2
  11. Free reader

Words make a difference

Some other research by Scholastic highlights the difference in words and achievement in test (SATs). If you scored in the 90th percentile, you scored “as well as or better than” 90% of the group (i.e. really well). If your score was the same as “the mean” for that test, you scored in the 50th percentile.

Exposure to that 1,800,000 words a year makes a huge difference! So much is absorbed in the process of reading – vocabulary, knowledge, sentence structures, ideas, opportunities to empathise with others’ experiences, both real and imagined. Committing to this sort of daily mental workout quite literally changes lives; we’d like for the children to become passionately curious through reading, and to be able to read independently to support a lifelong love of learning.

Please speak to your class teacher if you are struggling to read or change books each day.

St Peter's C of E Primary School

Moor Lane, Budleigh Salterton, Devon EX9 6QF

01395 443167


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