At Byrchall we offer an exciting and stimulating learning environment with access to one of the broadest range of subject options in the region. In addition to more traditional subjects, every student is taught how to harness the latest technologies to equip them with the skills necessary for today’s competitive job market.

The Byrchall High School, part of Makerfield Academy Trust, has been using Accelerated Reader and Star Reading since 2008 to support the school’s whole-school reading culture. In 2020 the school invested in the Complete Literacy Solution from Renaissance when they introduced myON to increase reading engagement at home and to provide access to more texts for otherwise disengaged readers.

In September 2022, the school received a ‘Good’ Ofsted inspection report with specific recognition of the school’s thriving whole-school reading culture, including the following:

“Leaders’ systems to identify pupils who are behind with their reading knowledge are well thought through. These systems enable leaders to pinpoint and remedy the specific problems that individual pupils face when reading. Most pupils become confident readers. Recently, leaders have made reading widely and often a priority for all pupils. This work is beginning to encourage more pupils to read for pleasure.”
– Ofsted.

Following this brilliant feedback, we spoke to Deputy Headteacher Phil, who explained the role that Accelerated Reader plays in being a critical cog of many, which ensures the wheel of reading keeps turning at The Byrchall High.

Phil explains:

Making Books More Accessible and Appealing

“All books are labelled in terms of relevant reading ages, so students use that information acquired from their respective AR book quizzes.”

We have a weekly literacy lesson which Accelerated Reader is a part of. Within that lesson, pupils have access to the library and follow the Accelerated Reader scheme under their individual pathway.

The library provides computer access so students can conduct AR book quizzes and Star Reading assessments. Having computers in the library for formative assessment activities allows students to access an entire suite of texts and resources simultaneously.

Our books are categorised under themes that promote students’ interest depending on what motivates them to read. All books are labelled in terms of relevant reading ages, so students use that information acquired from their respective AR book quizzes and Star Reading assessments under the guidance of their English teacher.

Multifaceted Assessment Strategy

“This assessment data from Star Reading and other sources informs future planning but also tells us which students we need to prioritise for intense small-group intervention.”

Star Reading assessments provide the individual student with realistic reading targets to focus on, which are fed back to the teacher. In addition, the teacher uses the Star Reading diagnostic and screening reports as an overview analysis tool.

Individual student data From Star Reading assessments also feeds into a class profile. The class profile gives an overview of the strengths and areas for development for a particular cohort, which might identify certain individuals with specific difficulties and whether they need to focus on them through intervention initiatives such as additional paired reading.

Staff use grouping and standardised data from Star Reading assessments as one component of a multifaceted process that identifies specific students who require small-group intervention. Small group intervention is a critical strategy part of our catch-up program.

This assessment data from Star Reading and other sources informs future planning but also tells us which students we need to prioritise for intense small-group intervention for about 10 to 12 weeks.

A Whole-School Reading Culture

“They’re motivated, and we give them a degree of free will to choose whichever book they want because we want reading to be an organic passion for our students.”

Every curriculum area in our school supports and promotes reading as part of our whole-school reading culture; this ensures students participate in more extensive reading to develop their subject knowledge, contributing to each student’s overall enrichment. Now, every teacher in every subject knows which students are confident readers, and we provide dedicated training for all staff to support reading in any lesson.

Students now choose to go into the library and are keen and engaged in reading. They’re motivated, and we give them a degree of free will to choose whichever book they want because we want reading to be an organic passion for our students. We want students to be motivated to read more, and we want them to have a lifelong love of reading in which they’ll be able to go away and pick up a book without a staff member behind them.

With Accelerated Reader data illustrating how many words and books have been read per student and class, we use this data to set up competitions between groups to incentivise students to read more, improving their reading stamina. These competitions are integrated within our rewards scheme, regularly recognised and celebrated internally and externally with the broader community.

Click here to find out how your school can utilise The Complete Literacy Solution from Renaissance to support your school’s whole-school reading culture.

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