A NORTH Yorkshire school has launched an initiative to help improve reading.

Risedale Sports and Community College, in Catterick Garrison, has become part of the national Accelerated Reader programme in a whole-school approach to encourage pupils to develop their reading ability.

The online customised programme tests children on their initial reading levels and recommends a range of books of the appropriate age.

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It then sets targets for pupils and challenges them with online quizzes after they have finished each book moving them on to the next level when they achieve three perfect test scores.

English teacher Sarah Matthewson said: “Reading is the foundation of all education and at Risedale we are passionate about improving literacy levels among our students.

“At the beginning of term we tested our students and found that 43.6 per cent were below their chronological reading age on entry to school.

“We need to make sure that we close this gap by ensuring that all students, across all year groups, are reading at or above their recommended reading age and the accelerated reading programme will help us to do this.”

Parents are being invited to join the online programme by logging in to the system where they will find a list of books suitable for their child to help in their choice of selecting books for home reading.

The scheme is also aimed at encouraging healthy competition among students with a reward system for those gaining 100 per cent in their quizzes and for reaching the million word mark.

“Reading is so important for an effective life,” said Mrs Matthewson. “It is important to us that all our students have every opportunity to succeed and the accelerated reader programme will help them do just that.”

Darcy Swainston, 11, of Catterick Village, added: “I enjoy reading lots of books especially ones by Stephanie Myer and Darren Shan.”