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Our Approach

#681 Stop and Read – Westbourne Academy

What did we do?

We invested in Accelerated Reader licences for al KS3 students. Staff were trained in the Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) approach and encouraged to share best practice and support each other as necessary. We launched in June 2019, on a lesson carousel basis with students having a ten-minute slot at the start of the lesson to read their books, staff were also encouraged to read during this time. We created displays where staff could recommend their favourite books to students. Additionally, several members of staff regularly visited the Learning Resource Centre to ask for recommendations on what to read.
The Learning Resource Manager took the lead on delivering the library lessons to ensure consistency; regular reading homework was set and the expectation was that students were quizzed on at least two books a fortnight.
All students in KS3 were tested using the STAR Reading Test. Assistant Principal, Andy Smith complied data showing the percentage of students whose reading age was in line with their chronological reading age; this was further been broken down into the different vulnerable groups.
We trialled the Reading pen for a month with a variety of different students with various needs and based on the feedback, we purchased a set of ten pens to support students within lessons.

Summary of impact

Stop and Read is fully embedded across the academy every day except on Wednesdays. If students did not have a reading book this is logged on SIMS. Our internal data shows us that on average 97% of students had reading books in school during the first half of the Autumn Term; this was a significant improvement on the previous academic year.
All students were tested using the STAR Reading Test to ascertain their baseline reading age. The results were as follows:
• 35% of Year Seven have a reading age in line with their chronological age.
• 24% of Year Eight have a reading age in line with their chronological age.
• 29% of Year Nine have a reading age in line with their chronological age.
At the end of last academic year, 24% of students had a reading age, which was in line with their chronological age. Our data from this Autumn Term showed that 27% of students had a reading age, which was in line with their chronological age; we reduced the average gap from 26 months to 20 months, this improvement demonstrated rapid progress within a short space of time.
The Learning Resource Centre Manager and an English teacher participated in a national writing competition; several students received certificates and their work was published.
The project helped raise the profile of reading within the academy and highlighted the importance of reading within all areas of academy life. The fact that 97% of students had a reading book with them in school shows the high standard of our expectations with reading. Students were quizzing on Accelerated Reader more regularly than before and the use of reading homework had a positive impact. In terms of literacy, many of our more vulnerable learners, began to feel more confident with reading. Our internal data continues to show progress and the gap between chronological and reading age is narrowing.

Steps taken

  1. Purchase and rollout of Accelerated Reader software licenses to all KS3 students.
  2. Associate Assistant Principal trained staff on the DEAR approach and set expectations.
  3. Staff within the English department encouraged to share best practice regarding Accelerated Reader and support each other where necessary.
  4. Baseline testing of all students using the STAR Reading Test which generated a reading age for all students and a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) which provided students with a book range so that they were not reading books which were too easy for their ability or ones which were too challenging.
  5. Launch of DEAR across the academy to help promote reading for pleasure. Students had regular reading slots throughout the day and during different subjects so that reading was not seen as something which only happened in English lessons. Staff also read within these slots so that they could be role models for reading.
  6. Students provided with reading logs enabling them and their parents/carers to track their progress and a calendar of events promoting reading.


Accelerated Reader training for Learning Resource Centre Manager: £500
Accelerated Reader Licences (including 40 students for 2 years): £2,160
Additional Accelerated Reader Licences (560 students £5.80 each): £6,496
STAR Early Literacy: £750
Creation and printing of reading logs: £750
Purchasing of new books (fiction): £6,000
Rewards and Author Visits etc.: £2,000

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