Literacy scheme rolled out into middle schools

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Middle school pupils are set to benefit from a new literacy scheme which Berwick Academy has funded in each of its feeder schools.

Accelerated Reader (AR) is an online tool for managing independent reading practice. It produces an average of two years’ reading age growth in just one academic year, while promoting reading for pleasure.

Using information generated by the software, teachers can help students select books that are difficult enough to keep them challenged, but not too difficult to cause frustration.

It also helps teachers to monitor students’ vocabulary growth, literacy skills development and reading skills taught through other reading schemes.

Alexis Widdowson, headteacher at Berwick Academy, explained: “We have given the middle schools money for Accelerated Reader licenses because we know it is effective in getting children to read.

“Unlocking their capacity to read is key and will help greatly when they move up to high school.

“We’ve funded site licenses for all of our middle schools as it’s quite a big fee for some of the smaller schools to fund, and it has been proven to have a massive impact.”

Mrs Widdowson said that improving reading at middle school level would help students for when they arrived at Berwick Academy.

“We’re a community school and we are committed to supporting the students in our community,” she said.

“We feel that this is the best way to ensure that students coming to us come with a good level of literacy. It has been proven to have a massive impact and it also tells teachers about how a child’s reading age is developing.”

The decision to fund Accelerated Reader in Glendale, Berwick and Tweedmouth middle schools is part of the Academy’s efforts to improve standards in response to Government changes to the GCSE exams, which produced “volatile” results nationally in English and Maths this summer.

“Going forward we have changed the curriculum to increase the amount of time that our students have for English and Maths quite significantly,” Mrs Widdowson explained. “From this year, years nine and 10 will have more dedicated time in English and Maths.

“We feel that these are the right strategies to respond to the challenge we have got.”

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