Reading Development Strategy at Charnwood Primary Academy looks ‘Good’ to Ofsted
Charnwood Primary Academy, Litchfield, England
Charnwood Primary Academy, part of the Staffordshire University Academy Trust, has been using Accelerated Reader and Star Reading to support the school’s reading development strategy since 2016.
In November 2022, the school received a continued ‘Good’ inspection report from Ofsted, with specific recognition of the school’s positive reading culture, including:
“Leaders ensure that reading and phonics are a priority throughout the school. They support staff with effective training, so that staff have good subject knowledge and teach phonics confidently. Leaders have updated the books they use, so that pupils access a wide range of texts and classic novels. Older pupils can recall stories they have read and can talk about favourite authors.”
Following this fantastic feedback from Ofsted, we got in touch with English leader Charlotte, who explained just how vital Accelerated Reader is to the school’s thriving reading culture.
Immediate Bang for our Buck
“Within one year of introducing AR, we improved our percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard of reading from 40% to 70% at KS2.”
I started at the school in 2016, when I took on the role of the project manager for Accelerated Reader, and now I’m the lead for English for the school. I was aware that we had a weakness in data collected on reading progress when I first became the project manager of AR. Therefore, I was assigned with prioritising reading across the school and overseeing the allocation of reading ages for all pupils.
We hit the ground running with AR and began labelling all the books in our school with AR book labels highlighting the respective text reading age, ZPD range and AR points. We also worked hard to get parents invested in the programme by hosting workshops around AR and how it supports pupils.
Within one year of introducing AR, we improved our percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard of reading from 40% to 70% at KS2. Our last Ofsted inspection was positive, and the inspector commented explicitly on how impressed they were at the progress the children had made in the last twelve months.
Following this excellent inspection, we’ve continued to embed AR as a core component of our school’s reading strategy, including keeping our library well-stocked, especially with non-fiction texts to broaden pupils’ experiences. In addition, we now ensure all pupils are reading a text suited to their specific level of ability and understanding.
Reading Culture Impresses Ofsted
“We discussed the accelerated progress our year six cohort had made in their last SATs results, which was a crucial example of how our pupils now make rapid progress.”
In our latest Ofsted inspection, one of the criteria the inspector was looking for was ensuring every child could read, including the ability to decode their book. Therefore, when the inspector was observing reading throughout key-stage two, they asked us – “how do we know that childen are reading something that’s at their level?”. Consequently, I explained to the inspector that pupils take their Star Reading assessment every term, which allocates their reading and ZPD ranges to help pupils self-select appropriate texts.
As a result, the inspector was really happy with everything they saw throughout key-stage two, which obviously was a huge relief!
One of the other items that also came up during our Ofsted inspection was identifying the lowest 20% of readers. So again, this is where Accelerated Reader became really helpful because when we choose our class readers, we choose books that are suitable for the class according to the average reading age and appropriate level, which includes the lowest 20% in every class too.
The inspector also explicitly asked me to outline Accelerated Reader’s full impact on our key-stage two (and some key-stage one) pupils. Although the inspector didn’t want to look at our data, I could explain that our children had made more than a year’s progress in three out of four key-stage two classes. Additionally, we discussed the accelerated progress our year six cohort had made in their last SATs results, which was a crucial example of how our pupils now make rapid progress.
An Invaluable String to our Reading Bow
“Ensuring our pupils have a wide range of book choices is a massive part of our reading-for-pleasure success, and I wonder how we’d facilitate that without Accelerated Reader.”
When I was previously a year-six teacher (currently, year four), I noticed that Accelerated Reader inspired my pupils to read, which was crucial for us because we’re situated in an area of high deprivation. So when our pupils started to respond as well as they did to AR, it was very encouraging for us as staff to see a dramatic increase in reading engagement.
I’ve already got a word-millionaire reader in year four, and it’s only November! Pupils are really motivated to read and succeed with the prizes and incentives we offer to encourage them to score well on their AR book quizzes and get their word counts up in competition with their friends, inspiring them to read more.
We celebrate reading success every week in assembly with prizes awarded to children based on meeting their Accelerated Reader targets and word-read goals. And now, we also have reading ambassadors and librarians throughout the school; a role children look forward to achieving as they move up.
Reading for pleasure was also a key issue we discussed with the Ofsted inspector. They asked specifically about different class-assigned novels and how we stay on top of and monitor our reading-for-pleasure agenda. I explained to the inspector that with our well-stocked library and Accelerated Reader, pupils now have more choices and access to discover and read new texts than ever before.
Ensuring our pupils have a wide range of book choices is a massive part of our reading-for-pleasure success, and I wonder how we’d facilitate that without Accelerated Reader.
Click here to find out how your school can utilise Accelerated Reader to support your reading culture.
|Accelerated Reader, Star Reading
|Attainment Gap, Book Stock, Ofsted, Progress Monitoring, Pupil Progress, Reading for Pleasure
|England, Midlands, United Kingdom