Reading for pleasure in Special schools

The series of pilot projects that we ran in partnership with alternative education settings were designed to see how Read for Good’s projects can better meet the needs of alternative settings and their pupils. This resulted in us starting conversations with Cotswold Chine School, speaking with staff in order to understand whether we could use our resources, and combine our staff’s expertise, to further engage pupils in reading for fun.

Cotswold Chine School is an independent day and residential special school in Gloucestershire, supporting and empowering children and young people who have complex learning needs and additional difficulties. With a strong focus on helping each child holistically, the school has spaces for 60 children aged between 7 and 19, with the majority of these students staying at the school for most of the year.

Working alongside the school, we explored ways to adapt our programmes to help pupils access the many benefits that reading for pleasure can bring, recognising the potential impact that a collective challenge could have for a tightly linked community. Staff were incredibly supportive from the outset, seeing the potential, and suggestion adaptations to optimise the project for their pupils.

To launch the project, we first provided resources for staff to use with pupils:

We were advised that digital and web-based resources were not appropriate for pupils, so we worked with Chine School to emulate the purposeful and rewarding elements of Readathon® and Track My Read® using paper-based solutions. We:

  • Set an initial reading target of 6,000 minutes, which staff and pupils could track using the paper resources.
  • Provided a £500 voucher for a local independent bookshop which would be ‘unlocked’ if the minute target was beaten (through funding).
  • Helped to facilitate a visit to the local public library so that pupils could enjoy the many benefits of browsing and choosing books.

Staff implemented the programme using the resources and contacts we supplied to great effect. In the end, pupils read for a combined 11,810 minutes – almost doubling their original target. The organiser reported more reading around the school, more enjoyment of reading, with even the Therapy department noting the positive effect reading for pleasure was having on pupils.

“This project has had a tangible and lasting impact and has led to other follow-on activities. Given the pupils’ developmental histories and experiences of education, it is extremely positive to reframe attitudes towards reading.”

Teacher, Chine School

Click on the link above to read the full report. We are hopeful that this shows just how powerful reading for pleasure can be in special schools.

To apply for a Brilliant Box of Books to support a reading for pleasure culture in your setting, please click here.

If you work in a setting like this and would like to know more, please email

Back to news