Extended Schools funding in Northern Ireland

Extended Schools is an initiative set up by the Northern Ireland Department of Education to make additional funds available to school activities beyond timetabled hours.

Engaging parents and children with after-school reading

The initiative is aimed at raising standards of achievement by using school facilities to their best potential and involving parents and the local community in additional activities. Over £10 million of additional funding has been allocated to approximately 500 schools in the 2015/16 academic year. Many schools have been using this funding to establish after-school reading clubs based around Accelerated Reader.


An independent study conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation and Durham University in 2015 found that students using Accelerated Reader achieved an additional three months growth in reading age compared to their peers, over a 22-week period. Low-income students were found to achieve an additional five months growth with AR – outperforming their peers and closing the gap between them.

Read more research

Findings of the Education Endowment Foundation research


“The study shows that poorer children can catch up with their peers as long as the right choices are made by schools.”

Professor Stephen Gorard, Durham University School of Education


Developing a reading culture

It is relatively easy to ensure that library activities are taking place within school hours, although establishing time for regular reading practice in the timetable can be challenging.

The greater difficulty, though, is bridging the gap between library visits at school and daily reading habits at home. After-school reading clubs are an excellent way to develop a reading culture and connect reading at school with reading at home.


Partnerships between local schools

One way to maximise the effectiveness of the Extended Schools funding is to group together with other schools to share expertise and resources.

As the funding is focused on areas of high social disadvantage, partnerships between schools can be an excellent way of connecting schools from different neighbourhoods together and making the most of the available funding for all the schools involved.

Reading Dashboard shown on a PC screen

The interactive online Reading Dashboard allows educators to see how well students are performing at class, group and individual level. It allows teachers to diagnose problems and inform intervention programmes.


“Through their participation in the programme both at home and at school, the children show an increased enthusiasm to read.”

Helen Cole
Ballykelly Primary School


“Parents were delighted that their children had developed such a love of reading and appreciation of books. Some commented that they were surprised to see their sons with a book in their hand in the mornings before school and even at mealtimes!”

Colette Maguire
St Columba’s Primary School

Screenshots of the Screening Report and Student Growth report

The Screening Report identifies students who are performing above benchmark expectations, at benchmark, or below benchmark.
The Student Growth Report plots a student’s progress toward a previously set target, allowing you easily to determine if that student is responding to intervention.


“AR has dramatically raised the profile of reading at the school.”

Tommy McDermott, Holy Family Primary School

Find out more about Accelerated Reader

Speak to a member of our team

Call us to discuss your school’s needs with a member of our team. (Phones are manned Monday to Friday, 08:30 – 16:30.)

020 7184 4040

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Tell us about your requirements and we’ll tailor a quotation to your specific needs, including new discounts for small schools.

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Book an online demonstration

A member of our team will guide you through the programme in approximately 30 minutes. The demo can be arranged at a time to suit you.

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Please complete the form below to request more information about Accelerated Reader and STAR Reading.


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