Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Accelerating reading and maths for SEN students

Billing Brook School, Northampton

We use Accelerated Reader with almost 80 of our pupils, and we use Accelerated Maths as an intervention tool when it’s required.

We have always considered Accelerated Reader to be an interactive and engaging reading comprehension tool. Through the Star Reading assessment, pupils are able to have their reading level assessed, which gives them their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and guides the books they could be reading. This supports them and their teachers to find appropriate reading materials for them.

Developing maths skills…

With Accelerated Maths, we set random objectives for the pupils which they work through in the form of practises, and then we work on more of a 1:1 basis with the pupils when the programme recognises that they aren’t understanding something.

We find the programme very good for revisiting strands of maths that the pupils have covered during the year. It really helps to reinforce and refresh learning. It covers a wide variety of topics and we particularly like how it moves between these different areas, as this makes the students think about what they actually need to do, and the process that’s required to work out the answer.

“Many of our pupils struggle with comprehension, especially the inferential skills, but Accelerated Reader supports pupils to access many of these question types.”

…And aiding comprehension

Many of our pupils struggle with comprehension, especially the inferential skills, but Accelerated Reader supports pupils to access many of these question types. The amount of questions provided in the book quizzes is appropriate – with only ten needing to be answered on each book, it supports pupils who struggle with their attention skills. With a pass mark of 70%, Accelerated Reader ensures that pupils do not move on before they are ready, and it’s a very effective gateway to open up conversations with teachers when pupils answer questions incorrectly.

One great thing about Accelerated Reader is the vast range of books available. This meant that when we implemented the programme, we didn’t need to purchase specific sets of books upfront. We know that meeting the interests of all the pupils is a large part of tackling the barrier to reading and encouraging reading for pleasure, and because Accelerated Reader allows pupils to access a large range of texts, they can read books they’re interested in, and are more likely to engage with. This definitely helps them retain the information from them. Alongside this, being able to access texts of different lengths also means that those pupils with limited attention skills can engage in reading and have their comprehension skills supported in exactly the same way.

“Accelerated Maths really helps to
reinforce and refresh learning.”

Helping teachers

The Accelerated Reader programme really supports staff development as it highlights areas in pupils’ reading development which need increased focus – just as Accelerated Maths does for numeracy skills. Being able to see a pupil’s progress over a period of time, as well as seeing the question areas which are causing more difficulties, allows staff to structure teaching lessons to target these areas where we can see there are pupils struggling.

A supportive tool

Accelerated Reader is a resource that we have used for many years and the reason we continue to use it is down to the fact that the pupils continue to be supported by it. It ensures that the work already being done in class and on an individual basis is supported by an external resource. Working together to improve the outcome for pupils, rather than working on separate entities, is what makes this work. The programmes that Renaissance supplies are supportive, collaborative tools for teachers and pupils, and this is why they’re so effective.


Update: In November 2019, Billing Brook Special School received an Outstanding grade from Ofsted!

The Ofsted inspector noted in their report:

“Leaders make sure that reading is very important across the school. Staff are skilled in teaching pupils to communicate. They use symbols to help pupils learn well. Pupils enjoy reading regularly. Leaders ensure that staff are trained to teach and promote reading well. Teachers check pupils’ understanding carefully. They ensure that pupils learn the phonics skills they need when they begin to read. Staff help pupils who fall behind in reading to catch up.

“The mathematics curriculum is well planned. Teachers have good subject knowledge and plan lessons that build on what pupils have already learned very effectively. Pupils are enthusiastic learners and work hard. Pupils’ work shows that staff are ambitious for what pupils can achieve. Pupils are encouraged to use their mathematical skills in crosscurricular activities. This deepens pupils’ understanding.”

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