We are thrilled to announce our first Star School of 2024 is…
Coombe Road Primary School, Brighton!
We spoke to Sheila Walker, who leads on the Lexia program in school. She told us how the Lexia program has been a longstanding fixture in their school and how they have been able to maximise Lexia by using it with their entire Year 2 cohort.
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?
We are going back a long way now! I looked into it and, after doing some research and reading some case studies, it seemed like it would have a good impact. Looking into the costs as well and pricing it out per pupil, it appeared to be excellent value.
Once we rolled it out in school, we quickly saw the impact it was having on the children and their progress with reading, so we have stuck with it ever since! We have been using it for about 6 or 7 years now!
What do you feel makes Lexia stand apart from other reading skills software products on the market?
I think the graphics are superior when you look at other providers and the children are really engaged with it. Generally, it reached the majority of all of our children over the years both in terms of engagement and the results. Once children get into the routine, they really love it. It’s been embedded in our day to day school life really well. Parents are aware of it as well. It’s really just part of the school now!
Even with the difficulties with budgets in schools at the moment, it is well worth keeping Lexia because it’s effective.
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.
Currently we are using Lexia with 23 children in Year 1 and 24 children in Year 2. That is the whole of our Year 2 cohort and all but 5 of Year 1 who would struggle to access the system until they reach a higher level of reading.
In our termly progress meetings, we will look at the school data and identify if we want to put any additional students onto Lexia, if they are ready. In these meetings, we may also decide that some children have flown through it and caught up to be age-related in reading so we will remove them from Lexia to free that licence up for another pupil. We can be flexible in that way.
We have a timetabled Lexia slot for each class in the IT suite every day. With each class we have 4 groups working on the online program while 1 group takes part in guided reading with their teacher. This rotates each day so that every pupil gets at least four x 30 minutes sessions per week on average.
For the past 3 or 4 years, we have provided Lexia to the whole of Year 2 and that has had a good impact as they have gone into Key Stage 2, giving them a good grounding of phonics and reading skills. This year, we have also decided to concentrate more licenses to the majority of Year 1 as well to extend that impact. Our hope is that after 2 years of Lexia, the majority of our pupils will be flying by the time they reach Year 3! We have found that using the program with a whole class has been much easier to implement than having just a few pupils from each class. This way we know we are getting the full impact from it.
Describe the impact that Lexia has had on your pupils. Have you noticed a positive change in their motivation to succeed in literacy? Can you give an example of a Lexia success that sticks out to you?
Yes, when a child in the class achieves their next level, we make sure that we celebrate them. They get claps and cheers from their class during the session and a certificate is printed for the Headteacher to present in Celebration Assembly on Friday. They are all very proud when they receive their Lexia certificates and enjoy taking them home to share with parents.
One thing that has really helped all pupils is that, it doesn’t matter which level they are on, the progress is celebrated nonetheless. The children are all genuinely pleased for each other’s achievements so it has helped create a really positive atmosphere.
We have also seen the impact during our termly pupil progress meetings where each child is discussed. It has been really affirming to see the progress seen on the myLexia reports corresponding with teacher’s observations. Even if there is a difference, it can really help us identify where additional support may be needed. On the whole we are finding that it is speeding up their progress to where they need to be.
Can you give an example of a Lexia success that sticks out to you?
I had a child that I used to work with in Year 2 when I was a specialist TA. I worked one to one with pupils on their literacy skills and this pupil in particular had and EHCP for their Speech and Language needs. We began using Lexia as part of his intervention program and by the end of Year 2, he could read every key word right up to year 6! He also got 40 out of 40 when he retook the Phonics Screening test so he was one that really stood out to me as one that Lexia has made a big difference to.
How have you used rewards to motivate and celebrate success on the Lexia program?
In addition to the certificates and celebration assembly, we have found that parent consultations have been effective for motivating pupils. Sharing successes with parents has been helpful for keeping the children going on the program. We also have a house points system so teachers can give out points when a pupil has really excelled on Lexia.
Pupils are generally very motivated to engage with Lexia. They love all the games and graphics that come along with it. They are always wanting to know what the next level’s theme might be so there is a lot of motivation built in.
How useful have you found the myLexia reports in terms of demonstrating progression and informing planning?
I keep an eye on the myLexia reports and will let the class teacher and TA know when any pupils require any further support. I also download the Lexia Lesson Plans and Skills Builders and provide the appropriate resources to staff so that they have everything they need to get pupils past the point they are struggling with.
This is important because we don’t want the pupils to begin to lose motivation if they are getting stuck on a particular activity. They TAs are also good at spotting when a pupil needs help as the progress bar changing colour at the bottom of the screen is an easy visual to check as they are walking around the IT Suite.
This approach works well as I can use the reports to inform teachers and TAs if children need additional support, and they can decide the best course of action for each pupil. In some cases, it can be that simply sitting with the pupil to support them with the online activity is all that’s needed, while for others, 5 minutes away from the program to work on a quick paper-based activity will get them back on track, they get back on the program and then they’re off!
What main piece of advice would you give to a school that was just getting started with Lexia?
I would probably recommend that they focus on a class or two at a time when starting out. Getting the routines in place before introducing it to more pupils.
I would also recommend that it is timetabled that pupils get slightly more than their recommended weekly usage on the program. This really helps to give their progress a good push!
Finally, I would recommend having someone, like myself, to oversee the program and discuss results regularly with teachers. This helps both teachers and pupils see the impact of the program on their progress which can help spur on its use even more.
What feedback have you had from your Lexia pupils?
We had a child come into our office this morning and say to the SENCO, ‘I’ve just completed my Level 8 on Lexia yesterday and I haven’t had my certificate!” I had only just printed off the certificates, so I replied to the pupil, “I think you’ll find it’s just there on that desk!” They are really proud of their achievements, so they are really aware when they are due a certificate. Generally, they are all really positive about the program – I don’t remember the last time a child said they didn’t like Lexia.
Thank you for speaking with us, Sheila! Look out for your Star School certificate and book voucher arriving soon!