AVID readers have won a North-East school national acclaim as they lead the country in the bookworm stakes.

Darlington School of Mathematics and Science has been selected as one of only 17 champion schools nationally after successfully boosting the reading age of pupils.

The academy adopted the pioneering Accelerated Reader scheme and saw students improve their reading age by as much as five years in a matter of months.

Open to all students, the system carefully measures pupils’ ability and recommends an appropriate reading level so they don’t become disheartened. It then checks their knowledge through quizzes and measures progress.

The scheme has proved so successful that Accelerated Reader has asked DSMS to join the champions roll as a model of good practice for other schools.

Learning Resource Centre manager Tina Gray said the initiative had successfully helped improve the reading standards of students and being recognised nationally was “fantastic news”.

“We have so many students reading high level books now and loving it – it’s unbelievable,” she said.

“They have been really stretched and have expanded their vocabulary and knowledge. They are now watching videos of the books they have read and are able to compare and contrast which is amazing.

“Teaching staff in other subjects are commenting on how well students are now reading in their classes.”

Headteacher Calvin Kipling added: “The scheme has been a staggering success helping students progress in all subject areas.

"It is so subtle in its workings that students don’t even realise they are being educated as they are enjoying themselves so much just reading the books and completing the quizzes.

“We are all delighted to be selected as a champion school and look forward to helping anyone who needs any advice.”