THOUSANDS of young people have "significantly improved" their reading skills, thanks to a schools programme aimed at improving literacy.
More than 2,000 young people who have received two school terms of Eight Reading Behaviours teaching were tested and all were found to have improved reading skills.
The pupils, aged eight to 14, were tested last December and again in June this year to discover their reading age, which had improved by more than expected.
Stephanie Vaughan, Swansea Council's English and literacy advisor to schools, said: "We have changed the way teachers work with children and have encouraged parents to read at home in different ways.
"Before some children were able to learn and recite words from the page of a book but did not understand what those words or phrases actually meant, giving them little educational benefit.
"The Eight Reading Behaviours are easy to understand strategies to make children more active readers.
"They can include encouraging children to picture the text in their head, to ask questions and to make suggestions about what is happening in the story. They help pupils better understand what's on the page in front of them.
"Pupils are given the skills to read independently and encouraged to become critical readers, who can make judgements, form opinions and read between the lines. They are also able to select and summarise information.
"This way pupils enjoy reading more and read in ways which help them to develop in all subjects, from researching history to interpreting a maths problem."
The project has been run in a number of schools, including St Thomas and Clase primaries, with plans to develop the programme in all primary and secondary schools.
The improved literacy skills have made it easier for pupils to develop and to participate in all lessons.
Councillor Will Evans, cabinet member for learning and skills said: "The analysis of the results of the "before" and "after" tests shows that this group of more than 2,000 pupils made significantly better progress as a result of the reading behaviours intervention. Some of the best improvements were among youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The findings on the initiative have been considered by members of Swansea Council's People Overview and Scrutiny Board yesterday.