FOR 15 minutes every Thursday lunchtime children at this school disappear.
But their parents will be relieved to hear they’re not in trouble.
Instead, the youngsters at Flying Bull Primary in Buckland, Portsmouth are tucked away in a classroom, behind a curtain or in a tent having fun reading.
The secret reading clubs for boys and girls are so exclusive they currently count just three boys and three girls who delve into a range of materials from Argos catalogues to Top Trumps cards and books.
And the results are impressive, with two-thirds of pupils boasting a year’s reading progress in just two terms.
Archy Clark, seven, looks forward to reading comics and playing word games in the clandestine sessions.
He said: ‘When I was invited to join the secret reading club I was so excited.
‘I wasn’t disappointed. I read lots of comics and play word games.
‘I’m learning all sorts of new words now which makes me very happy and I’ve noticed my reading in general has improved a lot.
‘My friends don’t know about it – being a part of the club makes me feel very special.’
Maddie Welsh, eight, is a fan of children’s laureate Julia Donaldson, of The Gruffalo fame.
She said: ‘I love reading and discovering authors I never knew about, which is why the club is brilliant.
‘I’ve also enjoyed reading catalogues and picking out toys.
‘It shows you how important reading is for all sorts of things, not just books.
‘Ever since I started the club I’ve been reading a lot more at home, and I’m getting better at it all the time.
‘My parents know about it but I’ve kept it from my friends – it’s more exciting that way!’
Sophie Bridgeford, eight, added: ‘When we’re reading other children try to get a peek but so far we’ve managed to keep it hidden away.
‘My favourite place to read is in the tent because it feels like we’re on an adventure.’
Flying Bull, which has signed up to our literacy campaign Read All About It, launched the secret clubs this year to give a boost to Year 3 youngsters who were not reaching their full potential.
It complements a range of schemes including 21 trained parent volunteers who read with children of all abilities.
Izzy Lewis, reading leader, said: ‘The clubs are about reading for fun and giving children the freedom to choose what they want.
‘Their confidence has improved dramatically and they’re making excellent progress. If they can read well they can access all areas of the curriculum.’
For more on our campaign visit portsmouth.co.uk/news/campaigns/read-all-about-it