Reading scheme opens new chapter for Swindon school

By Barrie Hudson - 3 October 2023

  • The scheme is spearheaded by Owen Williams, Lawn Manor Academy’s Reading and Vocabulary Lead

    The scheme is spearheaded by Owen Williams, Lawn Manor Academy’s Reading and Vocabulary Lead

Lawn Manor Academy is nurturing a love of reading with the introduction of dedicated reading time every day.

Pupils starting and returning to the school have seen 20 minutes added on to the school day, which now finishes at 3.20pm.

This extra time has been added as a tutor session after lunch, dedicated to boosting reading and literacy.  Pupils spend the session with their tutor, who reads carefully chosen titles aloud while they follow along with their own copy of the book.

The combination of a high proportion of pupils entering the school with a lower-than-expected reading age, plus the Government’s introduction of new guidance on the length of the school day, has led to this radical revamp of the timetable.

Owen Williams, Lawn Manor Academy’s Reading and Vocabulary Lead, has spearheaded this programme.  

He said: “With the introduction of the new guidance for school hours taking effect from the start of this school year, as well as knowing that reading skills are an area for improvement for many of our pupils, as a school we looked at research into how we could make the most of the opportunity of extra classroom time for the most benefit.

“What struck us was that there’s a lot of research using schools that are very similar to Lawn Manor Academy, that show the impact of just being read to by fluent readers.  

"Other schools that have implemented a similar programme have seen a positive improvement to reading and literacy skills, as well as pupils engaging with books and developing an all-round love of reading.  

“It’s essentially a time when pupils can sit and listen to a story, but at the same time they’re being introduced to age appropriate yet challenging texts, hearing new vocabulary in context and promoting discussions around issues that are pertinent to them.”

The books have been carefully chosen for each year group and cover a mixture of fiction and non-fiction titles and topics that will engage and be relevant to Lawn Manor Academy’s pupils.  

Titles range from the award-winning fantasy Tamarind and the Star of Ishta, to the thought provoking The Hate You Give and the iconic 1984.

Research has shown that having an opportunity like this also improves engagement in the afternoon, and helps pupils re-focus on their learning in their lessons after lunch.

Owen said: “The pupils are already really engaged with the books and are eager to find out what happens next.  It’s a great opportunity for everyone to just stop and bask in a story for 20 minutes, rather than having to also analyse a text as they would be required to do in their English lessons.  

"Lots of teachers have already said that the reading sessions are the quietest and calmest part of the day in the school now!

“It’s already been a positive change for our pupils who need a helping hand, as well as those who are already good readers.  We know that improving reading and literacy can have a knock-on effect on every subject.  

"This isn’t just about improving grades but also improving overall outcomes, opportunities and aspirations for all of our pupils.”

Lawn Manor Academy is part of the Ascend Learning Trust.  Prospective pupils and their parents and carers are invited to make an appointment for a school tour, and more information can be found at

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