Exploring Reading Cultures in Schools: Insights from our Latest Roadshow Seminar

On Thursday, July 6th, the Juniper Road Show series continued with a team from Juniper Education addressing the importance of reading in schools. If you missed the seminar, a comprehensive summary of the event is available in this blog article.


On Thursday, July 6th, the Juniper Road Show series continued with a team from Juniper Education addressing the importance of reading in schools. The team included Stephan Nicholls, Head of Training, Development and Consultancy, along with Kathy Ewers, one of our CPD Training and Education Advisers, Katie Poole and Stacey Perkins, who provide training on our tracking products and Sally Harrison, Education Resources Manager. If you missed the seminar, a comprehensive summary of the event is available in this blog article.

Vision For the Future – One Platform

The event began with Stephan Nicholls providing an overview of Juniper Education and highlighted the company’s vision of continuing to be a comprehensive education partner that can fulfil all the needs of any school or MAT.

Stephan also discussed Juniper Education’s software platform, One Juniper, which does exactly what it says on the tin, consolidates different school systems into one unified platform, with one sign-in, for all services. This platform allows schools to enter staff details once and seamlessly access various services and information. Stephan mentioned that Juniper is “continuously developing and expanding its offerings within the One Juniper Platform”, with plans to incorporate products like Sonar Tracker, a tool for tracking pupil reading progress, in the near future.

Establishing a Culture of Reading in Your School

The focus of the event then shifted to the main topic of reading, with Kathy Ewers. Kathy shared practical ideas to ensure reading is at the heart of a school’s curriculum and thoughts on establishing a positive culture of reading in schools. She emphasised the importance of reading in the national curriculum, which encourages pupils to read widely across fiction and non-fiction to develop knowledge, appreciation, and love for reading.

Kathy highlighted the benefits of reading and referred to a survey conducted by the National Literacy Trust, which explores people’s attitudes towards reading and writing. The survey found that learning new words was among the top benefits of reading. She stressed the “significance of vocabulary development, which plays a crucial role in academic achievement and overall learning”.

Kathy discussed the ways schools could build a reading culture and suggested teachers try implementing the following:

  • Lead from the top – value reading throughout the whole school.
  • Be a teacher reader – take time to talk about books together and with pupils but as a reader, not as a comprehension task.
  • Devote time to all aspects of reading – word reading and phonics, reading comprehension, reading for pleasure, and reading aloud.
  • Encourage pupils to talk about books and share them with each other.
  • Create an environment which encourages reading.
  • Invest in books and other reading material every year – including non-fiction, poetry, newspapers and audiobooks.
  • Prioritise teaching of vocabulary – engage pupils in words.

She went on to discuss the importance of well-resourced school libraries in promoting reading and pupil development through the Great School Libraries campaign. She suggested practical ideas such as author visits and special events to promote reading. Kathy also highlighted Juniper Education’s comprehensive training opportunities in primary English, including reading, writing, and spelling, tailored to meet the specific needs of schools. More details of which can be found on our website.

Education News

Kathy Ewers explored the issues around this year’s Key Stage 2 reading test, highlighting the high word count compared with previous years that meant more time was spent reading the text and less answering questions.

Stephan Nicholls went on to mention a couple of noteworthy updates in education news. Firstly, he mentioned the upcoming changes regarding the end-of-key-stage assessments. While Key Stage 2 assessments will still be provided, the transition from judging progress from KS1 to 2 to from Reception baseline to Year 6 is still awaiting clarity, especially for infant and junior schools.

Secondly, Stephan highlighted the release of a new version of the “Keeping Children Safe in Education” (KCSIE) document, effective from September 1st, 2023. The main changes include requirements to inform job applicants about online searches and increased expectations regarding online filtering and monitoring software. Additionally, there were clarifications on handling allegations against agencies or individuals using school premises.

Juniper Education can guide schools through these changes through the provision of a wide range of safeguarding courses and support to ensure alignment with the new KCSIE document. You can contact our team using the link below to find out more.

Assessing Reading with Sonar Tracker

The next topic discussed during the Juniper Roadshow was the assessment of reading progress using Sonar Tracker. Katie and Stacey discussed how this innovative tool can be used for assessing reading progress. They emphasised its impact on tracking students’ reading abilities and how it revolutionises the assessment process in schools.

Sonar Tracker offers comprehensive and efficient monitoring of reading skills, providing real-time data for valuable insights, identifying areas for improvement, and tailoring instruction. It goes beyond traditional assessments by considering comprehension, vocabulary development, and critical thinking skills, enabling targeted interventions. Stacey noted that Sonar Tracker transforms support for individual students, meeting their specific needs more effectively.

The Juniper Book Awards

During the event, the Juniper Book Awards were also discussed, with Sally Harrison from Juniper Education’s Education Resource Services (ERS) providing insights. The awards were highlighted for their role in promoting a love for reading among students and developing their literacy skills. The criteria and process of the awards were explained, focusing on recognising exceptional books that engage young readers. The awards also serve as a valuable resource for schools, with winning and shortlisted books compiled into reading lists that provide curated recommendations to enhance school libraries and reading programs, promoting inclusivity and accessibility.

Contact Us

To find out more about the topics, services and products such as Sonar Tracker or the Juniper Book Awards discussed during the seminar, get in touch, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise with you.

Or visit our website to find out more about the Training and CPD course offerings here at Juniper Education.