Accelerated Reader at The Marches School

Following our successful pilot with Year 7 last year, we have decided to roll out the Accelerated Reading programme to all students in Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 (Year 7 – Year 11). This will also bring The Marches School into line with our partner school, Sir John Talbot’s School in Whitchurch, who already use the programme with these year groups.

What is Accelerated Reader?
Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer program that helps teachers and librarians manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Renaissance Learning, the manufacturer of AR, claim that the program can produce an average of two years’ reading age growth whilst promoting a culture of reading for pleasure. Our students will select a book at his or her own level and read it at their own pace. When finished, they will take a short quiz on the computer. Passing the quiz is an indication that our students have understood what was read and we expect all students to achieve at least 85% in these tests.

AR gives children, teachers, and librarians feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher and librarian will then use to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice. Children using AR choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them. A reward system is put in place to encourage students to read and enjoy books and this will be embedded within the whole school rewards system.

Take a sample AR test at

How do students access Accelerated Reader
Students access the Accelerated Reader software by clicking on the link here (or on the school homepage) which takes them directly to The Marches School dedicated AR Website. They have been given a dedicated username and password in order to access their own Accelerated Reader profile. This should be input into the log in screen.

Students will also complete a Star Reading test online every half term. This allows us to monitor a student’s progress and ensure that their reading level is updated regularly.

Take a quiz: Print

You can also download the Accelerated Reader app onto an iPhone or iPad through the iTunes store:

Literacy Aim: Love Literacy

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Frederick Douglass

At The Marches School we want our students to be free. We want them to be able to choose whatever future they desire and have the necessary skills to be successful. Literacy is fundamental to our students’ wellbeing, enabling them to function in their everyday lives whilst giving them the lifelong skills to be able to communicate and create, articulate their ideas and understand and interpret the ideas of others.

The simplest definition for literacy is the ability to read and write, but in total there are four strands of literacy:

• Speaking
• Listening
• Reading
• Writing

Our students use and develop their literacy skills in all of their lessons and examined subjects. Students are now marked on the quality of their written responses in their examinations across almost all GCSE subjects. Please see below a collection of ‘Mastery Levels’ for literacy that have been compiled to demonstrate how student literacy skills should be developed from Year 7 to Year 13.

We believe that literacy begins with reading. At the heart of our literacy strategy is ‘reading for pleasure’. We expect all of our students to read in their own time and to bring their current reading book to school every day. We promote reading through a range of events and, most importantly, through our ‘Reading School’ initiative. Most importantly, we talk to our students about what they are reading and what we are reading. Having adults as literacy role models is essential to a child’s development. We will also be provide reading recommendations for both students and parents.

Our Learning Resource Centre (LRC) is at the heart of the school and at the heart of literacy learning in The Marches School. It is an outstanding resource where students can borrow a wide range of reading material and find a space to work and read. All of the fiction texts have been coded to fit in with our Accelerated Reader scheme so that students are choosing books that match their reading ability more effectively.

When students are competent readers, they will become great writers. Writing also runs though our literacy learning. We hold regular writing events and competitions to promote writing and we believe that it is every teacher’s responsibility to develop their students’ writing ability.

Speaking and listening aids the development of both reading and writing and is in itself incredibly important. As such, we teach speaking and listening skills explicitly and run a range of highly successful speaking activites such as the Debate Society.

Exciting events that promote a level of literacy at The Marches School
In recent years we have held a fantastic range of events to develop out students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening. These include:

• Celebration of World Book Day
• All Year 6 students receiving an independent reading book for our summer transition project and Summer Reading Challenge
• Visiting writers Frank Cottrrell Boyce, who promoted his new novel ‘The Adventures of Broccoli Boy’, and both Paul Dowswell and Linda Newberry, whose short stories featured in the ‘Stories of World War I’ anthology
• A range of debating competitions
• A Young Writers Club

What could you do to boost your child’s literacy levels?
Research proves the importance of the family home in raising literacy levels. Here are five suggestions you could adopt in your home:
1. Have a range of books at home (just having books around your house has a massive impact). Encourage your child to read every day at home and to visit the LRC at school or your local library. It is suggested that students read for at least 30 minutes per day in order to truly develop their skills
2. Talk to your child about what he or she has read recently.
3. Read yourself! Be a literacy role model.
4. Help your child to proofread their written work. Assist her/him to check spellings and punctuation. Encourage your child to ask for clarification when unsure of a spelling or the use of a punctuation mark. See the following website for more information: Also, look at the Literacy Nuggets page on this website for further resources.
5. Read the news together at least twice a week and discuss current events.

Helpful websites:

If you would like more information about literacy at The Marches School or you would like to recommend a fantastic book to other parents, please contact me:

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.

— Dr. Seuss, ‘I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!’

Reading School at The Marches

The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss, ‘I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!’

From September 2015, The Marches School launched ‘Reading School’. This is a 25-minute private reading session that takes place every day after lunch within the traditional vertical form structure. The Reading School session will be in silence so that the whole school community can concentrate on what they are reading. This session will also be linked to Accelerated Reader so that we can make sure that our students are reading books that are matched to their reading level and help them to improve.

Our Aim:
To create a reading-friendly environment and culture throughout The Marches School and The Marches Academy Trust, and help make all of our students ‘word rich’ and passionate about reading beyond school.

Our Rationale:
It is the responsibility of all schools to “develop policies to promote reading for enjoyment.” [Ofsted (2012), Moving English Forward] Whilst schools embed policies generally focussed upon weak readers – such as an emphasis upon phonics – many schools have abandoned the promotion of wider reading and reading for pleasure due to the constraints and pressures of covering the curriculum. As reading is such an essential skill for all areas of the curriculum, we at The Marches School and The Marches Academy Trust strongly believe that, in order for students to develop a love for reading and to further strengthen our students’ skills in reading, this dedicated time for reading is essential. We do not believe that this is a sacrifice for our curriculum; instead we feel that – over time – it will help our students to access the curriculum more effectively.

We have decided to make reading a whole-school priority with all staff being reading role models for our students. It is our belief that this will be a key factor in establishing an effective reading culture throughout our school.

Why Silent Reading?
Students who are good readers experience more success, which makes them want to read more. As students read more, they become even more passionate about reading. Their vocabulary and comprehension skills grow, allowing them to access more complex texts and develop a greater ‘cultural competency’ which will prepare them more effectively for life beyond school.                   Silent reading is therefore a skill that is essential for all individuals for a variety of different reasons:
• It helps us to read faster.
• It helps us to improve our understanding.
• It helps the reader to ignore words that they don’t need.
• It allows you to reread aspects of texts to develop understanding further.
• It helps the reader to read whole words at once.
• It allows the reader to build skills in order to move quickly to the information that they may need.
• It is a process that involves everyone while giving everyone an opportunity to choose something that suits both their own interests and their own reading level.
• It gives a good model of writing and language in use.
• It can help with exam practice throughout the curriculum.
• It helps to develop readers’ confidence.
• It helps listening comprehension because reading silently and quickly is actually better practice for real-life listening comprehension than reading out loud is.
• It helps the reader to stop moving their lips as they read. Some people who have done most of their reading out loud move their lips as if they are speaking even when reading silently. This slows down your reading speed and can be embarrassing if people see you.

21 Day Challenge

This is an initiative being pioneered by our sister school, Sir John Talbot’s School in Whitchurch. The focus of the initiative is a ‘boot camp’; a whole school effort to try and eradicate a combination of ten of the most common errors made by our students. In order to develop a new habit and routine, scientific studies suggest that 21 days is needed with a clear sense of focus and attention. Therefore, the errors that cause most problems for staff and students have been identified. We are asking that both schools focus upon these specific issues in the first 21 School Days at the start of the academic year. This webpage has been created to support these specific needs.

• We are requesting that during this focus period, all teachers should be highlighting aspects of these common literacy errors in all of the responses that are completed by our students.
• A PowerPoint slide has been created and will be displayed at the end of lessons for students to reflect upon their own writing. It will also be included in Daily Notices.
• Students will be correcting these issues during Making a Difference (MAD) Time/Direct Impact Response to Targets (DIRT) Time sessions across the curriculum, in addition to addressing the issues highlighted by teachers in their subject marking and assessment.
• A ‘21 School Day Challenge’ page will be placed upon the school website to help support staff, students and parents/carers both during and beyond the challenge.

Following the challenge, students will be expected to proofread their work for the ‘21 Day Challenge’ for themselves and we are also asking parents/carers to support with this before books or work are submitted for assessment. A copy of the challenge will be given to students in the form of a bookmark following the completion of the ‘21 Day Challenge’ so that they can use this in their Reading School reading book.

The common mistakes identified for the challenge are:

Punctuation/Grammar Errors                                                                                  
Capital letter for the beginning of a sentence and proper nouns.
Capital letter for the pronoun ‘I’.
Full stops used at the end of each sentence.
Apostrophes for omission being used accurately.

Homophones and Confusions
There, they’re and their
Where and were
To, too and two
Dose and does
Of and off
‘A lot’ as two words

Resources to support the challenge:

‘21 Day Challenge’ Focus Areas & their resources                                                                                   
Capital letter for the beginning of a sentence and proper nouns – Capital Letter Resources
Capital letter for the pronoun ‘I’ – Capital Letter Resources
Full stops used at the end of each sentence – Full Stops – Basic Punctuation Folder
Apostrophes for omission being used accurately – Apostrophes of Omission Folder
There, they’re and their – Homophones and Common Errors folder
Where and were – Homophones and Common Errors folder
To, too and two – Homophones and Common Errors folder
Dose and does – Homophones and Common Errors folder
Of and off – Homophones and Common Errors folder
‘A lot’ as two words – Homophones and Common Errors folder

Apostrophes of Omission

Using the Apostrophe of Omission

Capital Letter Resources

Capital Letters – Brands and People

Capital Letters – Capitals I and places


Full Stops – Basic Punctuation

Full Stops – Basic Punctuation

Full stops and basic sentence punctuation

Homophones and Common Errors

Homophones – Of or off

Homophones and Common Spelling Errors

The Marches School: Improving Writing Skills

Since January 2013, the Quality of Written Communication has been a key part of the assessment of some courses at GCSE and A Level. Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) marks are already worth 5% of the total qualification in English Literature, Geography, History and Religious Studies. From September 2015 this aspect was implemented in the assessment of nearly all qualifications. As part of our drive to improve writing skills throughout the school, we realise that we need to provide resources to help students develop their skills beyond the classroom. Many parents and carers often ask us what they can do to support the development of skills at home so we have decided to publish a range of resources to support improving literacy skills across the curriculum.

We have purchased a range of resources to support this project from Coleridge Press. The booklets and activities get progressively harder but each exercise explains the literacy feature, with relevant examples, and then provides a range of exercises for the student to complete. Each unit also features revision and tests to ensure that students are confident in using these literacy skills. Please refer to the literacy features and then download the booklet title and refer to the location to find the relevant resources. Additional resources will also be added to this page throughout the academic year.

If you require any further information or have any suggestions for additional resources to be included on this page, please email: using the subject Website: Literacy

List of Literacy Features, Booklets & Page Numbers

Introduction to Better Writing and Punctuation Booklet A

Better Writing and Punctuation Booklet 1

Better Writing and Punctuation Booklet 2

Better Writing and Punctuation Booklet 3

Better Writing and Punctuation Booklet 4

Better Writing and Punctuation Booklet 5

Better Writing and Punctuation Booklet 6

Literacy Nuggets: Literacy Support Videos
King Alfred’s Academy in Somerset has produced some supportive videos to help students develop their literacy skills. Below is a list of these resources and how to access specific aspects of these literacy issues.

Please use the following YouTube address to access the information:
If the link fails or changes, type ‘King Alfred’s Academy’ into YouTube and the video and channel is there (once in the King Alfred’s Channel you may need to select videos)

Video list