GREAT Milton Primary School is planning to use the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign as an opportunity to get the wider community more involved.

Headteacher Fiona Feeney described reading as “the cornerstone of children’s learning” and said the volunteering aspect of the programme dovetailed with the school’s church ethos.

She said: “Anything that helps children to read, and promotes a real love of reading, is something we would encourage.

“The opportunity to work with the community is very close to our heart.

“If we can encourage people to get involved in the school and support the children we will go for it.”

Last year, 86 per cent of pupils achieved a Level 2 or higher in reading at Key Stage 1, and 71 per cent reached Level 2b or above.

But the school’s focus is less about raising percentages and more about fostering a lifelong love of reading.

Mrs Feeney said: “Our first priority is to ensure the children love reading.

“We are also aware of the Oxfordshire desire to raise reading standards –that’s what is going to help them long term so we want to make sure we are giving our children here the best opportunities we can.”

Daniel McPherson, six, said: “I don’t know why I like reading, I just like it.

“I like reading information books.

“I like to read on my own in my bedroom.”

Issac Salle, seven, said: “I like reading because I learn stuff and I learn new stories. “I like books with lots of different stories and I like funny books.

“The Mr Gum books are my favourite.”

Lydia Reeve, seven, said: “I like reading because it’s really exciting and you get to know more things about the world and information. My favourite books are adventure books.”

About 13 per cent of pupils at the school have special needs and a similar number are eligible for free school meals, a key indicator of deprivation.

Between eight and nine per cent of pupils are from traveller families, and a very small number, representing about four per cent of the school, speak English as an additional language.

Activities aimed at encouraging reading include daily guided reading, storytime at the end of the day and visits from storytellers.

Key Stage 1 leader Liz Cinnamon said: “We have all sorts of things going on but for some children the reading doesn’t connect automatically.

“If they don’t get to read by the age of seven, it is a real struggle and they become aware they are behind, then they become reluctant.”

Half a dozen parents regularly volunteer in Key Stage 1, along with several governors.

But Mrs Feeney said: “We want to encourage other people rather than just parents. There are other people in the community who would benefit from working with the children. They have life experience they could bring in to the school. We see this as an opportunity to open our doors and let people in the community see what we do here.”