We use the Letters and Sounds programme to deliver daily discrete phonics lessons in the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) and Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), enabling children to decode words efficiently. This is continued into Key Stage 2 (Years 3–6) where necessary, with children joining the relevant phase phonics lessons.

Teachers model reading strategies during shared reading sessions — this gives the children the opportunity to develop reading strategies and to discuss texts whilst being supported. In Key Stage 1, children also have the opportunity to read one-to-one with an adult at least once a week. As the children move through the school, they are given more opportunities to read independently for a sustained period of time.

We use a range of reading schemes to support early readers as well as book banded ‘real books’ used for guided reading. Our teaching assistants support reading activities to ensure that children have more frequent opportunities to read with adults.

We organise exciting and rewarding activities in school to promote the pleasure and knowledge that can be gained from books, such as ‘Book Weeks’. Book Weeks include visits by published authors, skilled storytellers from many cultures, performances by professional theatre groups, making books, and using drama, dance and music to illustrate texts. 

Here are some important documents that explain the reading systems we use at Hilltop:

Accelerated Reader: Key Stage 2

What is Accelerated Reader (AR)?

AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at his/her own level and reads it at his/her own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer

Passing the quiz is an indication that your child has understood what has been read.

Teachers may help pupils by:

  • Guiding them to books appropriate to their ability and interests
  • Asking probing questions as they read and before quizzing
  • Pairing your child with others, reading with, or reading to your child.

Since they are reading books at their own reading and interest levels, most children are likely to be successful and enjoy the books and quizzes. Best of all they learn and grow at their own pace.

How can I help my child become a better reader?

As with anything, performance improves with practice. According to Renaissance Learning’s research, children who read at least 20 minutes a day with a 90% comprehension rate on AR quizzes see the greatest gains. Encourage your child to read at home, discuss books, ask questions about what they have read and visit your local library.

What is a STAR Reading test?

STAR Reading is used to determine your child’s reading level. It is a computer based reading assessment program that uses computer- adaptive technology. Questions continually adjust to your child’s responses. If the child’s response is correct, the difficulty level is increased. If the child cannot answer a question or answers incorrectly, the difficulty level is reduced. The test uses multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 10 minutes.

What is a Book Level?

Book Levels are reported using the ATOS™ readability formula and represent the difficulty of the text. The levels range from 0.5–13.5. Books are chosen based on the ZPD range recommended for each pupil by STAR Reading.

What is a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)?

ZPD is the range of books that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. Your child will receive a ZPD, or reading range after taking a STAR Reading test. It is important for children to read with a high degree of comprehension and within his/her ZPD.

What are points?

Every book that has an AR Reading Practice Quiz is given a points value. AR points are based on the length of the book (number of words). Pupils earn a percentage of points according to how well they pass the quiz.

What is Interest Level?

The Interest level indicates for which age group a book is appropriate, based on the content and themes. These are recommendations only and teachers and parents are recommended to use their best judgement when guiding pupils.

You can search for the Interest Level of a wide range of books using the AR bookfinder.