Assistant Head Teacher, Chelsea Sandbrook, talks about the impact of Accelerated Reader at her school:
When we started our journey with Accelerated Reader in March 2016, we never would have predicted the radical and transformative changes that would initiate a total shift in culture at Manor Leas Junior Academy. We are a three-form entry Junior School in Lincolnshire, a county consistently performing below national expectations in end-of-KS2 assessments, and, more recently, identified by the DfE as a ‘Category 5’ area. We knew our children had all the potential to achieve, but we couldn’t find the bottleneck; what was it we could change that would enable our pupils to thrive?
“The highlight of my morning is students coming in and asking if they can quiz. The excitement when we discuss different books, narratives and vocabulary all stems from Accelerated Reader. I couldn’t imagine a school without it!”
– Robert Belt, Year 5 Teacher
The leadership team made reading the priority. Reading for 30 minutes each night became the main focus of homework and we developed simple but effective strategies for rewarding effort in reading. The culture shifted almost immediately, and books became the hot topic of discussion, rather than a chore. Our staff have fully supported this change, with teachers joining in and discussing the books that they are reading with their classes.
Each half term we lead a massive assembly for the whole school which celebrates all aspects of pupil achievement in reading. From bouncing beach balls around the hall, awarding Word Millionaires with tiny plastic spoons (and an ice cream party!), to our more recent ‘Teacher Bush Tucker Trial Challenge,’ we keep the children enthused and motivated to improve their reading through praise and celebration. Our pupils are often found with their noses in books, capturing every possible moment to read. They walk around the school with stacks of books they’ve found in the library that they are keen to try or share with their friends. These small, yet powerful, images illuminate the influence that Accelerated Reader has had thus far.
“Accelerated Reader has brought our previously dusty and unused library to life.Our children can hold conversations about characters, adventures and make recommendations. It really has revolutionised reading in our school.”
– Hannah Watson, Year 3 Teacher
This year, David Walliams, Liz Pichon and Jeff Kinney are the most popular authors across the school. Year 6 pupils have particularly enjoyed R. J. Palacios’ Wonder, Year 5 liked Piers Torday’s There May Be a Castle, Year 4 loved Kieran Larwood’s Podkin One-Ear, and Year 3 adored Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve.
“The reading culture in school has improved greatly – on the whole, children have a love for reading and often express this. My class get so excited when new books are added to the library that they often race to get hold of them!”
– Danielle Collishaw, Year 6 Teacher
At Manor Leas Junior Academy, each and every child reads and reads often. So much so that parents often wonder what on earth we’re bribing them with! But no, our children aren’t being bribed: they actually enjoy reading and the adventures that they go on when reading a book. They understand that beach balls are fun and ice cream is tasty, but reading will give them the best possible chance to succeed.