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UK school students 'read less challenging books as they get older'

27/02/2017 Kelly

A new study has indicated that UK schoolchildren are generally reading less challenging books as they get older.

Carried out by the University of Dundee and the education assessment provider Renaissance UK, the 2017 What Kids Are Reading Report analysed the reading habits of 848,219 young people across almost 4,000 schools to identify the favourite books of pupils of different ages.

In the final year of primary school, it was shown that pupils' actual ages typically matched up with their reading age, but by the first year of secondary school  at age 11, pupils' reading ages had started to fall behind their chronological age by one year.

By the time they reached the age of 16, their reading age typically fell at least three years behind, showing many of these students are not pushing their literacy skills in the same way they did when they were younger.

This trend was reflected across the UK, although outcomes varied on a school-by-school basis. According to Renaissance UK, this issue may be due to a decreased emphasis on reading between the ages of 11 and 16, suggesting a change in educational policy could be necessary to address the problem.

As such, the organisation called for secondary schools to consider building dedicated reading time into the curriculum to ensure that pupils do not fall behind.

Keith Topping, professor of education and social research at the University of Dundee, said: "The brain is a muscle that literacy skills help train. As it gets more toned, like all muscles, it needs more exercise.

"Currently, primary schools are exercising it more vigorously by reading more challenging books - we now need to replicate this in secondary schools."

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