Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar has been awarded the prize for the ‘Top performing secondary school in Scotland’ for the Accelerated Reader and Star Reader programme.
Belhaven, a full boarding and day school, was also the only school in the UK nominated for both primary and secondary awards by Renaissance Learning. This is despite the fact that Belhaven is a prep school for seven to 13-year olds.
Belhaven’s headmaster, Harry Knight, said: “Mrs Parks, our librarian and class teacher, was at the awards ceremony in London to pick up the trophy. This is a fantastic achievement, not only reflecting the hard work that she, Mrs McAleese and all the other members of staff have put in, but also shows how much the children enjoy reading.”
An independent study, carried out by Professor Keith Topping from the University of Dundee in 2016, drew on data from the computer system used in schools across Britain to test the progress of pupils’ reading. The study found that schools which gave children dedicated time for engaged reading every day were more likely to see a significant improvement in reading performance.
Children at Belhaven enjoy a very well stocked library and a quiet session after lunch each day to relax with a book. They can also do Accelerated Reader quizzes during this session, but many pupils continue to read for fun and do quizzes in their free time.
Every week children who have achieved their individually set targets are recognised in a morning assembly and awarded certificates. Those who have read a million words or more are also awarded certificates as ‘Reading Millionaires’!
Mrs Parks says that by the end of the year some pupils have read more than three million words; boys particularly like Accelerated Reader and are often ahead of the girls because they like the competitive element! Teachers at Belhaven are also keen on the system as it gives immediate feedback and reports on books read and on the child’s level of comprehension, indicated by the percentage of correct answers in a quiz.