The Reading Challenge

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

We launched our Lockdown Reading Challenge at Swans Secondary School less than a month ago and the response has been fantastic.

Each time a Swans School student reads a book, they are asked to complete a comprehension quiz. Dependent upon the complexity of that book (ZPD) and their quiz score, they are allocated points which help them to reach their reading target for the term. 

Traditionally, these achievements have been celebrated in Swans Secondary School at the end of each term with certificates for all students who meet their target, as well as the highly coveted ‘Pizza Party’ prize for the form with the highest amount of AR target achievers.

However, we felt that whilst school is closed due to Covid-19, the students deserved a little added motivation. And it worked! The amount of words read in the week after the secondary school challenge was announced surged by 200% (compared to the prior week). Our avid readers are competing to take home the following trophies and medals at the beginning of the autumn term:

  • Grand Trophy: Student with the most words read overall

  • Form group with the most words read overall

  • Students with the most words read per year group

  • Top 3 students with the biggest jump in reading age per year group

  • All word millionaires

  • All Accelerated Reader target achievers

“We always look to celebrate effort as well as attainment,” says Ms Jo, “which is why our category for the most improved reading age has been newly introduced. We are especially looking forward to seeing the results of this, as it serves to show the benefits of reading upon comprehension skills.”

Swans students are encouraged from the youngest of ages to become enthusiastic readers – it’s an activity that is deeply ingrained in our school culture. Through reading, children (as well as adults) learn about people, places and events outside of their own experiences. They are exposed to ideas and beliefs that may differ from their own. Therefore, not only are the children learning new vocabulary and improving their language skills, but they also develop a better, potentially kinder, understanding of the world around them.

Ms Jo's excellent video reminds us why reading is so important…

Of course, students with a good reading ability tend to achieve more academically. But they don’t just do better at subjects like English and history. They do better at all subjects and they consistently do better all the way through school. Better readers are better able to process information, concentrate and ignite their imaginations. Our librarian, Ms Ling, adds, “Readers are innovators too! Just ask the top inventors at huge tech companies like Apple - the one thing they tend to have in common is that they were all avid readers as children.”

Renaissance Learning recently ran an article on how Swans became “a reading school”, using Accelerated Reader to assess ability and progress.

Reading offers a more relaxing alternative to computer games or TV shows whose flashing lights and constant movements can be quite stressful mentally. We therefore hope that our children will take the opportunity of Lockdown to find a little more time to read, stepping into the shoes of their favourite hero/ heroine, to discover new fantasy realms or to explore lands on far-off shores. Books and eReaders are conveniently portable too - so they can be read outside while topping up on that essential vitamin D!

Children often like to share their reading experience, so any parents wishing to offer support may dedicate a little time to listening to their child, or modelling good habits by reading their own book alongside them. Asking questions about the action, environment or feelings of a book also helps the child with comprehending the story.

Students are invited to join our Reading Hour Google Classroom, where book recommendations are shared along with information about the latest releases and free/ discounted book offers.

Swans School Librarian, Ms Ling, has compiled a list of her all-time top reads to suit all ages. Click here

Of course, Swans Primary School children shall not be overlooked and their reading rewards will be announced by Miss Karen at the end of term assembly.

It is quite incredible to see what accomplished readers our Reception classes have become – incentivised by the newly introduced ActiveLearn Bug Club. 

Progression is evident throughout the primary years, now with children in Year 5 who have already advanced to a reading age of 13 years – we even have one exceptional Year 5 child who reads above the level of the average 15 year old!

#SwansOnline #SwansReaders #AcceleratedReader #SwansSchool


Our literary events and initiatives always prove popular.

  • This year’s secondary school Book Week was transformed into a very successful virtual event.

  • The Write Stuff” was successfully introduced to Swans Primary School in September, helping children to improve their independent creative writing skills.

  • Top readers are invited to join our twice termly breakfast book clubs, where students get together to discuss the books they’ve enjoyed and agree on one to read together – secondary students will receive their invitations to next year’s clubs in the next week or so.


Swans Secondary School headteacher, Mr Rob, takes this opportunity to say thank you to our students...

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