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St Andrew’s CofE Primary School has been using Accelerated Reader, Star Reading and Star Early Literacy since 2020 to support the school’s reading development strategy. In November 2022, Deputy Headteacher Sam Bacon met with a school governor who then compiled a report on the impact that Accelerated Reader had on pupils’ reading engagement, enjoyment and development over the last two years and specifically since Sam has taken over the Accelerated Reader scheme in September 2022. The report was subsequently shared with and corroborated by school governors.

Sam was kind enough to reach out to us and share the findings from his report outlining the success of Accelerated Reading, which has greatly contributed to the school’s whole-school reading culture.

100% Heroes for Reading

The Accelerated Reading (AR) programme is now firmly established throughout the school.

At the beginning of the term, Sam began scrutinising reading assessment data with the reading programme fully embedded and the new library well-used across the school. He realised that despite the new system, the data did not reveal a significant impact and improvement was required. September was the perfect time for this – the school was in a good position to move forward with new staff have joined the team, and everyone felt positive and receptive to introducing new initiatives.

Sam has continued to keep a constant watch over the data for reading. This has enabled him to identify specific children who need support with their reading – this could be a conversation with their teacher about their book choices or their engagement with reading, or it could be to set up interventions. There may also need to be parent conversations to ensure all parties are involved and informed about their child’s progress.

This was just the start – it was clear that reading needed a higher profile in the school. The AR programme certainly gave the children access to books, but it did not develop interest or enjoyment. It was time for a new initiative.

This is a major incentive for all children and is straightforward to implement for all ages. When a child completes a book, they do an online quiz (from AR). If they score 9 or 10/10, they are rewarded with a star(s) with their name, which is added to the display outside Lewes’s class. The number of stars is appropriate for the length of the book completed. At the end of each half-term, the stars are collected, and Sam enters the names into a ‘Wheel of Names’ (online resource). During the final celebration worship of each half term, the wheel is spun, and the names of eight children are randomly chosen for a special reward of a £5 WH Smith voucher.

The Wheel of Names

Along with this, the school has bought many new books to engage all children, such as football stories, a series of fiction books and books for younger and lower-ability children. The library is kept tidy and well-organised by Year 6 prefects and is a bright, colourful, and well-stocked space at the school’s entrance. It is clearly very well used.

The impact of the 100% Heroes scheme is clear to see – and that is an understatement. Being in school most afternoons, I often see children looking at the display of stars and having exciting conversations about it, and they are always keen to explain the system and tell me of their achievements. I recall two children in particular, who had worked in intervention groups last year and had previously not enjoyed reading. They gave enthusiastic recounts about their books and the amount they had read in just one week.

After just one term, the impact is reflected in the data, and the improvement is astounding. To give some examples of the comparison between a year ago and today:

  • For the whole of the second half of the Autumn term of 2021, a child working at an expected level of achievement had a total of 18,600 words. Already, after just seven daysof this half term, the same child has read 43,000 words.
  • For the same time period last year, a child working at greater depth read 38,648 words. This year, after seven days, he/she has read 120,202.
  • A child working towards the expected standard also made huge progress, achieving 7,400 words after seven days, compared to 7,200 in the half term last year.

The tables above show extracts from Word Count reports from 1/9/22 to 14/12/22 (autumn term) for KS2 classes Year 3/4, Year 4/5 and Year 6.

It is important to add that to achieve any word count, children have to score 6/10 or above on their reading quizzes – thereby ensuring that no one can skip through a book without fully understanding it.

In addition, the expectation of readers varies according to age and ability. For example, in Years 5/6, the average word count for a child working towards expected levels is up to 30,000 words a term; for a child at the expected level, it is 60,000; and for a greater depth child, it is 90,000. There is much flexibility within these levels, however.

Pupil’s voice

One of the most effective ways to gauge the impact of any new scheme is to speak to the children themselves. I was allowed to talk with 12 children (in pairs), three from each year group in KS2 and all with different abilities. I asked one or two general questions to start them off, then just let them speak. Here is just a selection of their views –

  • I want to read now, not because I am told to do it. I try to read for an hour every night.
  • I look forward to reading in class, and I feel really focused.
  • I love reading and reading a lot because I can read quickly.
  • You get good ideas for your writing, so it helps your imagination.
  • We’ve both won vouchers. But I think I would read lots even if we didn’t have rewards because I love it.
  • Reading is fun once you find the right book.
  • I don’t want to stop reading when I find a good book and get into it.
  • I enjoy reading much more now. I didn’t use to like it much. I don’t always like doing quizzes if there are lots of questions because they’re quite hard. If you get a good score, it’s worth it.
  • 100% Heroes makes me want to read.
  • If I can’t choose a book, I ask my friends to recommend something they have read. If I am unsure, I ask my teacher to help me choose.
  • Everyone seems to be getting into their reading since 100% Heroes came in. It’s got me motivated.
  • I got so deep into my book when it was wet play that I nearly missed my lunch!


The incentives explained here are currently set in place for KS2. In KS1, the programme for reading continues to be based on the Read, Write Inc. scheme. However, Sam is now looking for ways in which KS1 children can be included in the Wheel of Names, as they get very excited when it appears in celebration worship.

It was clear throughout our discussion that Sam, like Helen, is not one to let things rest. He has approached these reading developments with huge amounts of enthusiasm and a real desire to improve standards and expectations – quickly. The word ‘engagement’ came up constantly throughout our meeting. As Sam explained, this system is not about whole-class engagement but personalised engagement. It is about all staff engaging with children about reading and not just sending them to the library ‘to choose a book’. Enjoyment of reading is the key.

Sam and Helen are delighted to see reading gaining a higher profile in the school and achieving impressive results. They, along with all the staff, deserve congratulations and thanks for their hard work and commitment to the continued development of teaching and learning at St Andrew’s School.

Click here to find out how your school can use Accelerated Reader to support your whole-school reading culture.

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