Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Ofsted approved reading strategy at Lea Forest Primary Academy

Lea Forest Primary Academy, Birmingham

Lea Forest Primary Academy has been using Accelerated Reader and Star Reading since 2015 to provide a consistent approach to reading and develop a love for reading for all pupils throughout the school. In November 2021, the school received a ‘Good’ Ofsted inspection report with specific recognition for the school’s reading development strategy.

We spoke to Assistant Headteacher, Brittany Evans, to learn what the staff and pupils are doing at Lea Forest Academy that earned them special recognition from Ofsted for the reading culture at the school. Brittany also explains how Accelerated Reader and Star Reading have played a crucial role in developing the school’s successful reading strategy over the last six years.


‚ÄúPupils enjoy reading. They have opportunities to read, to be read to, and to read to younger pupils during the day. Reading is prioritised. Pupils develop a love of reading.”


Brittany writes

We first looked into introducing Accelerated Reader (AR) and Star Reading (SR) back in 2014 to provide consistency with reading practice across the school and normalise daily reading for all pupils. At the beginning of our new reading strategy, implementing AR and SR was one of our first decisions. We could see the potential they offered in providing us with a structured and productive reading development strategy throughout the school.

We identified that we needed a shift in reading culture that provided more consistency with reading. With AR and SR, we now have invaluable data that illustrates what pupils are reading, how they’re reading and most importantly, how their reading proficiency is developing.

We can now allocate dedicated time for pupils to read every day with Accelerated Reader. We didn’t have dedicated daily reading before AR, but we identified it as necessary when planning our new reading development strategy. Following AR’s implementation, the staff immediately saw its value because they recognised the tangible benefits it gave our pupils, such as providing exciting and ability-appropriate texts to make daily reading more accessible.

The entire programme of Accelerated Reader makes reading more engaging and exciting for pupils; for example, having AR book quizzes accessible on tablet or laptop devices makes book quizzing accessible everywhere in the school and at home. We’ve now set up a structured pathway to reading proficiency centred around Accelerated Reader. As soon as pupils no longer need decodable books, they move onto AR. As a result, all pupils are now self-sufficient in managing their reading development. They log into their AR accounts autonomously and every pupil understands their expectations for reading and their appropriate reading levels supported by the AR book labels printed off and stuck on all books.

“The entire programme of Accelerated Reader makes reading more engaging and exciting for pupils.”

Lots of our children, unfortunately, do not have access to reading from home; therefore, having Accelerated Reader provide a suitable platform for daily reading, quizzing, and development is the best substitute we can give our pupils. Pupils get pretty competitive when carrying out their AR book quizzes. You’ll often hear them asking their peers, “what did you score on your quiz”.

Accelerated Reader greatly supports the transitions between year groups and key stages. As soon a pupils leave year two and move into year three, they automatically begin their AR journey. However, some children in year two do start using AR early. These children also quickly develop a healthy sense of competition and aim to achieve well in their book quizzes with their peers. AR pushed pupils to develop their reading comprehension and undertaking all the time, ensuring they’re reading texts they are interested in and matching their unique level of ability.

One of our pupils who is very bright in all areas scored less than expected on their recent book quizzes. Since then, they have been motivated to try harder and read more texts to improve their reading understanding. They’ve gone on to score 100% on all of their subsequent book quizzes, a perfect example of Accelerated Reader motivating pupils to remain engaged with reading.

“Pupils who have fallen behind in their reading because of the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving timely support to catch up. Leaders have ensured that pupils have a wide range of books to read.”


Star Assessments

Star Reading provides our teachers with accurate reading development data. We record every child’s latest quiz score and respective reading age to monitor how they’re progressing term on term and year on year. In addition, we conduct our Star Assessments every term to track how much pupils’ reading ages have gone up or down and by how many months. This consistent assessment strategy, plus the valuable information and data Star Assessments provides, has helped us significantly close the learning gap between our pupil premium and non-pupil premium pupils. In some cases, our Star Assessment data has shown us that some pupil premium pupils have outperformed their mainstream peers.

The data from Star Assessments often match our teaching assessments, knowledge and instincts. By clearly seeing how pupils are progressing and who is progressing, this information gives us direction as to what we can do further in terms of offering intervention with learning by setting targets and identifying areas of weakness.

“Star Reading provides our teachers with accurate reading development data.”

We plan intervention strategies three to four times a week, and our intervention strategies are always underpinned and informed by data from Star Assessments. Now that Star Reading is embedded in our reading development strategy, we know exactly which reports contain the information we need.

We record a spreadsheet to track all readers below benchmark according to Star Assessments. We use this spreadsheet to put in place targeted intervention. For example, every child has the opportunity to read out loud to an adult, whether they’re a fluent reader or not. If Star Assessments highlight them as below benchmark, we label these pupils as a ‘Bare’ reader, an alias we use to identify below benchmark readers. The information from Star Reading will outline whether these pupils need support in a specific domain such as inference or reading comprehension. We can identify and subsequently support these pupils with efficiency and effectiveness with Star Reading data.

“Pupils are proud of their library. In story time sessions, they listen attentively to books by favourite authors such as Ted Hughes”



According to Accelerated Reader data, every class celebrates a ‘reader of the week’; this nomination is based on the reader that has made the most progress that weak or has increased their reading fluency the most. The reader of the week will receive a literature suitcase, as noted by Ofsted. The suitcase is filled with different publications such as Happy News and First News. There is also a wide selection of fiction and non-fictional texts which the winner can take home with them.

The winner’s teacher will choose which texts to place into the suitcase to take home based on the winner’s favourite genres and level of ability. Children also have the option to choose their own books from the library to place in the suitcase, and every winner will also receive a hot chocolate. The winner is asked to write a brief book review on any one of the texts within the literature suitcase to share with their classmates when it’s time to pass the suitcase onto the next reader of the week.

Similarly, we also choose on ‘star reader’ of the week every Friday who receives a token for our book vending machine.

Pupils are excited to receive reading rewards such as a suitcase of literature to take home and a reading book from the vending machine


As we advance

“Accelerated Reader and Star Reading have had a real positive impact on our school’s reading development strategy.”

Accelerated Reader and Star Reading have had a real positive impact on our school’s reading development strategy. AR was the first thing we implemented when executing our reading development strategy. Our children are really enjoying Accelerated Reader and Star Reading, and they’re able to articulate exactly how it helps them with reading. AR allows pupils to access a breadth of texts and provides all pupils with the opportunity to practice reading regularly, which is so important.

We’ll continue to utilise Accelerated Reader and Star Reading like a well-oiled machine as we advance. We’ll keep adding texts to our library and classrooms on which pupils can carry out an AR quiz. We also plan to explore the variety of reports and information that Star Reading offers to support our intervention strategies.

Fundamentally, we will continue to monitor and track the progress of all our pupils to ensure that those in need of intervention receive the support and assistance they need to maintain progress, see success and most importantly, develop a love for reading.

To find out how you can utilise Accelerated Reader and Star Reading to support your reading development strategy, click here.

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