This month our Star School is St Alban’s Academy!
We spoke to Attiye who is the Reading Lead and has been using Lexia with all pupils in school.
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.
We use Lexia slightly differently to how the program was initially introduced. We’re based in quite a deprived area. We’ve got lots of children who were very affected by COVID and, I’m sure like every school, we had significant gaps with some of our children. So, we’ve used Lexia to support all children rather than just a group.
All children work four times a week on Lexia and the class will be split so that the class teacher has a smaller group of children to really target their specific needs. This can be happening while the rest of the children in the class work on the online tasks that are completely based on their ability.
Part of the teacher’s role from here is to, while they’re planning, look back at the Lexia progress and what the children have struggled with to then tailor make their next set of lessons.
We could do this as part of whole class reading but it’s a little harder to target all of their gaps, particularly in our school were we have a diverse range of needs. A program like Lexia allows us to take a more focussed approach.
Teachers use Lexia and across the week and children have access to it when they come in first thing in the morning. We are also very lucky to have an amazing library here, so we target key groups of children who we know need that extra usage or might not have that opportunity at home.
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, massively! First of all, they love Lexia!
Some of our reluctant readers are the first ones on Lexia every single day, which is amazing. As a school, to be able build that enthusiasm up has been really special to see. All the teachers have been very motivated as well. Our jobs are really hard, but I think, because they feel as though they’re being given that extra time to really focus on the needs of their children and to really go into detail on what a specific group of children need in that session without worrying about jumping to all the eight different places they need to get to in the class.
On average, within the first 5 weeks, most children had made at least 2 months progress which was massive for the school! We noticed our bottom 20% of children, our more vulnerable learners, have made significant progress in starting the program. We’ve now got more children the potential of reaching greater depth as well. So, Lexia has managed to target all learners.
I’d say the biggest impact has been children’s enjoyment of reading, but also teacher workload. It feels more manageable and, even though we’re still working just as hard, we’ve now got artificial intelligence also supporting those children, so nobody gets left behind. It’s made a massive difference to the environment and the feel of a reading lesson rather than feeling like we’re racing to a finish line.
For example, we had a child who is in year five and they were accessing spring term reception expectation of reading initially. He could identify sounds but wasn’t necessarily mixing them together and blending them. But now, he’s reaching end of year one reading skills. He’s on stage 5 now and his confidence has just come on leaps and bounds!
Generally, the confidence of children, particularly those who liked reading but knew it wasn’t an area that were comfortable with, they’ve really come out their shell and they’re just giving things a go! The moments on Lexia where it recaps tricky words and things like that, as well as the repeating games to secure and embed knowledge. They’ve loved those and it makes them remember it.
In addition, we’ve noticed the difference in writing across school as well since then. They say that, if reading is breathing in, writing is breathing out. You must have the two together. If you are not exposed to a wide range of text and that rich vocabulary, you are not going to learn to write. We have found the two to be marrying up much more in school, which is really lovely.
How have you used rewards to motivate and celebrate success on the Lexia program?
We have only introduced the reward system fairly recently because we found at the beginning, they’ve just loved it. There’s not really been anybody who’s been reluctant. We always praise in assembly.
I take some time every month to look at the progress data of each class and feed back to the class teacher to encourage them to praise their children. This is what they’ve done.
We are a very small school, so I am lucky to be able to get to know all the children myself. This means that if I am walking down the corridor and I see a student who I know is making really good progress, I can say “You’re doing an amazing job on Lexia!”. It is that verbal praise that is having a big impact at the moment.
We’ve just had World Book Day, so we’ve just ordered a lot of free books ready to give children as prizes. We have a Reader of the Month each month in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 which is based on their Lexia progress and their individual journey on Lexia. This is so we can celebrate all learners and not just those that are meeting their age-related work.
How useful have you found the myLexia reports in terms of demonstrating progression and informing planning?
Really good. Initially, I started off by looking at the data myself and then sharing the relevant information with staff and condensing it to make sure that it quickly accessible.
Our next step will be to arrange myLexia training for all staff next half term, so they can really understand the detail of the reports. I’ve found it incredibly useful to be able to see if anything’s been highlighted. It’s allowed to identify groups of children that need specific intervention and plan accordingly.
Being a small school, staffing is very slim, but the reports help us to pick up on the students’ needs and add these into the school day where we can. It has been really helpful in that sense to inform our daily planning.
Being able to see it clearly on paper, where they started compared to where they are, is just incredible! I remember the first report I printed, I could not believe the progress they had made on the program!
How have you expanded Lexia into home-use? How have parents responded?
The parents really like it. Parents have been really impressed with it generally.
We’ve got a few families who might not have the access to it because they don’t have access to the technology. But as I said, because we’re targeting those pupils in school at lunchtime, all children have a similar opportunity.
We’ve got some kids where Lexia is all they do at home! They have pride in their work on the program which is great for us! It’s been a really nice experience for them to share that with their parents as well.
We’re going to look at offering some walk-in Lexia workshops for parents in the Summer Term just so they can see what Core5 is about and how it works. We’ve sent out the letter and we’ve given them that sort of support but, as we expand it, we’re going to start looking into that so parents know how best to support them outside of school as well.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Please provide any personal comments on why you feel Lexia has been successful in your school.
To be honest, I think the main thing has been how open LexiaUK have been as a company. I was very honest with my Software Consultant and made her aware that our children have a very significant need. She was so understanding and flexible and was able to listen to our needs and come up with a package that really supported what we want to achieve with the program. Her support was immeasurable, and I think that is quite rare to find in a company. She was totally understanding of our school situation and that has really benefitted us implementing it using the model that works for us. We are very grateful for that.
What feedback have you had from your Lexia pupils?
Generally, the feedback has been really positive. Lots of them very excited by it. They love all the levels. We were worried initially that some children might looking over shoulders and comparing themselves to their peers, but they don’t really seem to do that. They are just generally very engaged and very excited by it and lots of children will often talk about their progress too. I popped into the library the other day and some children were excited to tell me what they had been working on and which sight words they were learning. It’s been generally a really positive response. I think it made them see reading in a completely different light. They have understood how reading can unlock their imagination! Those that have found reading a book quite difficult have been given a new confidence to have a go now.
A huge thank you to Attiye for speaking with us. Well done for fostering reading success with your students!