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Our Star School for April is…

Wallbrook Academy, Dudley!

We spoke to Kiran Satti who was responsible for rolling the program out in school and throughout the Shireland Collegiate Academy Trust. She shared some of her insights into how they have found Lexia in school and what they considered when rolling the program out across the trust.


Read the full interview below.

How did you first come across the Lexia program and what led to the school’s final decision to purchase?

Jen, who at the time was the Deputy Director for Primaries, shared it with me during the first lockdown. At that time we had 3 primary schools in the trust using Lexia. We sat down during one of the lunch breaks and she said ‘let me show you this reading programme’.

It usually takes me a while to form an opinion of something like Lexia because I am a firm believer of getting a book in their hands and developing print knowledge, but what I saw with Lexia instantly was the way in which it takes into account the developmental stages of the children regardless of age. I was really excited to see how it looked at their reading development stages and how it could be used easily by the teachers. To be fair, once I saw what it could do, I was sold quite quickly which doesn’t happen for me often!

I trust Jen’s judgement and knew that what she brought in would be of a high quality. We trialled it with the children so we could see the impact it had before rolling it out more widely. Jen’s excitement for the program was one factor, but actually seeing what it could do and how it worked with our pupils is what really sold it to us as a trust.

What do you feel makes Lexia stand apart from other reading skills software products on the market?

It is really effective in terms of impacting a child’s progress and I say this from both a leadership and a teacher perspective. I have seen the impact it has quite quickly, but it is not simply putting a sticking plaster over the issues. It is the developmental stages that the child goes through and the incremental progress that you can see with it. The way that the technology is used, it impacts the child effectively because it is so responsive to each pupil’s needs and where they are at that point in time.

The aftercare with LexiaUK as well and the support we got in terms of implementing it effectively was great. Implementation is key with anything new that you bring into school. Just because you bring something in at school doesn’t mean it is going to work. It needs to be effectively implemented to have the impact. I think having my Literacy Software Consultant, Chris, and the Lexia team was instrumental in making sure that we were using it in the best way possible. The way in which every little question we had was answered and we always got responses very quickly was something that I really appreciated when we were first rolling it out. It meant that I had the confidence to ask those questions and ensure that it really worked in our school context.

Finally, I think that it is just really easy to use. The way the data platform allows you to look at groups of children as well as specific children, and how much you can dig down into that detailed data. It is instrumental in terms of supporting our lowest 20% of readers across all primaries because I could go to the teachers and use the data to inform those conversations about progress and intervention.

How is Lexia used in your school? Please provide details of your daily routine and how you ensure that you reach recommended usage as well as which pupils use the program in school.

Once of the most important aspects of bringing Lexia into a new school was ensuring that it was timetabled into the curriculum. It wasn’t to be seen as an ‘add on’, it is part of the reading provision that we provide to the children. It can be an intervention for Key Stage 2 children which is also how it is used, but for early years and Key Stage 1 children it is very much about building it into the reading package that we provide so it is always timetabled in.

We target the lowest attaining readers first and designate time every morning to Lexia to make sure that they meet their usage targets. One thing that I found is that, as the children got used to using it, especially in the mornings, it meant that they were ready for the day. Their attitude to school and their learning was improved as they had already had some success on Lexia. Success is addictive and it was great that the children were able to associate that learning with success and take that into the school day.

As part of the implementation, I was very important that there was a Lexia trained adult with the children regardless of the group size. This meant that, especially for the lower attaining pupils, we could be really quick in addressing any gaps when they got stuck. We were able to quickly print out the Lexia Lessons during the session and complete them immediately or as a follow up activity the next morning.

We also made sure that Lexia was built into the phonics provision we have as well. We found that for some of our pupils, blending was a big concern, so using the program as part of their phonics session was very helpful to give them additional practice with that skill.

We made the decision in a couple of the schools to get the children on Lexia as early as possible because it could only benefit their phonics. If they were using Lexia alongside their phonics, we were seeing good progress with these children so that when they got to their phonics screen check, they were much more likely to be successful. Because the starting points for a lot of our children are very low, the extra practice they got from Lexia helped build that foundation of listening skills, syllable awareness and sound formation that they needed to be successful later on.

Describe the impact that Lexia has had on your pupils. Have you noticed a positive change in their motivation to succeed in literacy? 

Lexia for me was a godsend in many ways because it accelerated progress, especially for the children that we caught early. As part of our assessment system, if we can see that they are not making expected progress at the beginning of their phonics, then they go on Lexia quite quickly because we know that with Lexia, alongside their phonics, they will make progress.

It’s the confidence as well. I cannot stress enough how confident the children became after using Lexia with their phonics. All of the work they were doing on Lexia was feeding into their phonics and the two worked really well in tandem with one another.

What was helpful for me as a teacher as well as a leader was the consistency of the program. When working in lessons, often the children would comment ‘oh, that came up in Lexia today!’ so it was clear that the approach was working, and they could apply this learning to their lessons.

The instant feedback that the children get is also invaluable. I think that is what they like the most because they can see when they are doing well or if they needed more help. It is a very responsive program and very engaging too. They love the certificates and being rewarded for the work they do on Lexia.

You can see that it is very accurately pitched because it is always linked to what I am teaching in the classroom. It’s helped me support my colleagues as well. As a teacher that has a keen interest in reading, I often take for granted the specialist knowledge needed to teach reading skills. This may not always come as naturally to other teachers, especially those who teach older year groups, so Lexia has enabled them to provide this level of support to the children who need it. It does not only help the children but can empower the teachers’ subject knowledge as well to a certain degree.

Can you give an example of a Lexia success that sticks out to you?

There was one pupil in particular who absolutely hated everything about school because they didn’t think they could do anything. Starting them on Lexia was a bit of a struggle to begin with but once they started seeing the success and understood how to use it, they started engaging with it. It’s that idea again of success being addictive. Because it was so easy to use and they was seeing that success, their independence and confidence grew. They then started helping other pupils log in to it as well and was like a mini teacher!

What was special about it was that their confidence went sky high! This child was so negative and now they wanted to read the books and make sure they were on the right level. They would be the one to speak up in lessons when they noticed a sound that they had been working on in Lexia came up in the lesson. That is all you need from any program, the level of engagement and confidence it gave them was amazing.

This pupil was one of 4 that we had flagged as not being ready to pass the phonics screening but 3 out of the 4 did. I put that down be Lexia being part of their daily provision. I used this example to showcase across the trust just how important the implementation of Lexia is to its success. When it is implemented properly and used regularly, it has such an impact, not just on children’s learning but across the curriculum. This pupil was able to access a lot more because they could read a lot more.

How have you used rewards to motivate and celebrate success on the Lexia program?

Positive praise, always. We give Dojo points for engagement, so it is based on the reward systems that we already have set up in school. We use the Lexia certificates as well. I think that is the thing I have used most to reward the pupils on Lexia. It is all done for you and they love getting the certificates!

I think the feedback and the responsiveness of the program is a reward in itself. The fact that they can clearly see their progress as they work through the program and the circles filling in really keeps them going.

How useful have you found the myLexia reports in terms of demonstrating progression and informing planning?

The diagnostic tools and the data that it gives you is so detailed. I am a proper geek when it comes to reading data so I am really happy with it! The level of depth you get is great. When I showed the Principal, who is very much about data, he was really impressed by it. It takes a lot to impress him but he was speechless. I was very excited to show him the data and the fact that he was as excited about it as me meant it must be good!

The depth of knowledge that you get about a specific child is incredible. With other programs out there, there is only so much surface level data that you can get from them. The depth of myLexia data meant that I could pinpoint certain additional interventions that we needed to work on. Whether it was rhyme or syllables, I could see what it was that the children needed and bring that to the classroom.

Because of how detailed it is, it has really supported my colleagues with their subject knowledge as well. For some teachers that don’t have the skills and experience of working with early years reading, it has been really helpful to give them that insight and the resources they need to support the children.

Even something as simple as the usage reports have supported things like tracking attendance and had helped us adapt our approaches to introduce home use, for example. Sending their log ins home was a really helpful step for these pupils and we could still track their progress in the same way as we would in school.

The richness of the data can be intimidating to some because there is so much information! But I think for me, it was brilliant because it gave me all the information that I could possibly want as a reading lead. I could then use that data to help other teachers move forward with it. It’s really the depth and detail that you get with Lexia that you don’t get with other programs.

What main piece of advice would you give to a school that was just getting started with Lexia?

Train your teachers up well! I always say that staff need to play with it first. Log into the program as a student so you get a good insight into the student experience. I then held some tutorials for staff to go through the data and see the level of detail we could go into. I would continue to work with any new staff and support staff to ensure that everyone was on the same page.

I think training all staff, teachers and TAs alike, is crucial to a successful implementation. It was really important that we all had a shared understanding of why we were using Lexia and that everyone was on board with how responsive is was and the fact that it generates intervention planning for you. It was essential to get those benefits across so that it would be used consistently in class.

As a leader, I did a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of setting it all up initially. I could use some of my designated time to ensure the groupings were done, timetabling was in place, the accounts were created and initial assessments were complete so that teachers could hit the ground running.

Once it was all set up and the staff were trained, the monitoring of the implementation was also key. Throughout the process, I had the confidence that I could direct staff to raise any questions they had because I knew I had the team at LexiaUK there to support me. There was never a moment where I felt that I was just ‘left to it’. The relationship that I had with my Software Consultant was invaluable. It was great to have a contact that knew how I work and with confidence I could go to them with any question.

When introducing the program to teachers, I took everything step by step. We would do dummy runs of Lexia sessions so they felt confident running a session, then the next term we would delve deeper into the reports.  I think with anything new its always best to chunk it out so everyone can get the absolute best from it.

What feedback have you had from your Lexia pupils?

The really enjoy it! I can hand-on-heart say that the children all really enjoy using it. When I used it with my classes, I never had a negative response when I said it was time for Lexia. They were all very eager to get their laptops out and get started each session. It really enabled them to become more independent learners which I really loved. Even though it was mainly there to support their reading knowledge, never once did I get the impression that it was something they didn’t want to engage with. There were even some other children in the class asking ‘why can’t we go on Lexia?’. It was really lovely seeing their confidence grow as they used it. As a teacher, there is nothing I want more in my classroom than pupils feeling confident in their learning. It made them feel safe to learn.

Do you have any additional comments on why you feel Lexia has been successful in your school?

I think the support that I got from Chris and LexiaUK team had a big impact. Having a warm and friendly person to go to with any questions I had was really helpful. I really wanted to get it right for the staff and I wanted them to feel the same as I did that there were no such thing as silly questions so having that culture and ethos with Lexia was great.

Finally, it was just seeing the joy on the childrens’ faces when they see that they have completed an activity and have moved on to the next one. It’s just a brilliant resource to have and I love Jen for having shared it with me! We introduced the program during COVID which was very difficult but it actually gave us the time to get to grips with it and really understand what it could do for the children. It’s really become part of our provision as a trust. I say it’s part of our reading provision because it isn’t simply a ‘bolt on’, it’s a part of our core provision.

Thank you Lexia! The whole team is brilliant!