This month’s Star School to be featured in our Lexia School Spotlight is…
St. Paul’s CE Primary School, Newcastle Upon Tyne!
We spoke to Colin Harrison, who supports pupils with SEN and delivers Lexia sessions to pupils across the school.
He told us how Lexia Core5 has had a profound impact on some of their pupils with the greatest needs and how it has supported pupils with varying ability levels.
Read the full interview below to see some of the wonderful comments he made about how the Lexia program is working in their school.
How did you first come across the Lexia program and what led to the school’s final decision to purchase?
We first came across Lexia almost 15 years ago at an SEN Network meeting, so we have been using it for a very long time!
Historically we have used it with SEN pupils but have recently widened use to include whole classes. We rolled it out with Year 3 last year and it worked really well! I worked with the class teacher during literacy lessons, the teacher would take half of the class, I would do Lexia with the other half of the class and then we could swap over. Particularly in writing lessons, it worked very well!
Those children have continued with Lexia use into this year and we have rolled it out into the new Year 3 class as well. We’ve also just put licences on for Year 4/5. They’ve just had a go of it so they are ready to start summer use over the holidays.
Since it was so long ago, I can barely remember what led to the school’s decision to purchase! I think it is how individualised it was and still is! It’s really interactive and we were confident it could specifically address student’s knowledge gaps.
As we initially rolled it out with SEN pupils, we felt that the program allowed us to reach a larger cohort of pupils as we have quite a high proportion of SEN pupils in school. Lexia allows us to meet each of these pupils where they are at.
What do you feel makes Lexia stand apart from other reading skills software products on the market?
The targeted approach is a real stand out for me. Children are able to get to work on exactly what they are struggling with.
The children love it too! Last Monday I was giving out the letters for home use and I had children cheering! They are all so excited that they can use Lexia at home over the summer holidays this year.
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.
Initially, I ran 2 or 3 groups a week where we have 6 or 7 students in a group completing their Lexia time. These smaller groups usually consist of students with SEN but I also open these groups up to any students that the teachers identify as needing additional support with reading skills.
We also identify students that have failed the phonics screen retake in Year 2, they will be picked up automatically with Lexia in Year 3 to address those phonics gaps.
In addition to this, we have also decided to roll Lexia out to whole class groups. We use Lexia in a class setting during Guided Reading time in Year 3 and Year 3/4 and I am hoping to roll this out in Year 4 and 5 as well.
As well as Guided Reading sessions, these classes also get the opportunity to go on Lexia for 30 mins each Monday at the end of the day.
In Year 5 and 6, the students are a little bit more independent so we can instruct them to collect a laptop when they come in from their lunch and do some Lexia work. I think giving them this ownership of it has been a great idea and we’ve seen a lot of progress on the program since then.
Before the pandemic, I ran a computer club with some children from Year 5 and 6 part of the session was doing Lexia. I also ran a reading club for children in Years 2 and 3 where we read stories and the children spent some time on Lexia as well.
We have just rolled out Lexia home summer use from Years 3 to 5. I am looking forward to September to see what progress our children have made!
Describe the impact that Lexia has had on your pupils. Have you noticed a positive change in their motivation to succeed in literacy?
Progress across the board has been good. Our school is in a vulnerable area so there are a lot of challenges but I think Lexia really helps bridge the gap with our pupils. The majority of pupils are very positive and motivated with the program. Even since rolling out home use on Monday, I’ve had a child coming up to me on the playground telling me about how they have been on Lexia last night at home. It’s lovely because some of the students that have really taken to it are not always the ones you would think!
It has really promoted independent learning and helps students to plug those specific gaps. I have sat and watched some pupils working and looking at what they can now do, it’s amazing to see compared to what they could do at the beginning! Some children struggle with just sitting and writing and reading, but having something like Lexia that is interactive has really brought out the best in them. And they see it as fun too! They don’t realise they’re learning in the process.
Can you give an example of a Lexia success that sticks out to you?
I was amazed by a child in Year 3 that has made outstanding progress with Lexia. They are a child with Autism and their support worker agreed to try Lexia to see if it had the impact with them. This child has made the most progress this year and has gained about 4 certificates so far! This student is non-verbal and only has a few words but ‘Lexia’ is one of their words! The support worker told us recently that Lexia is one of this child’s ‘happy places’. They are just so content when they are on Lexia.
The progress has been so quick as will, I was absent from school for 3 months and by the time I had come back he had already gained 3 more certificates!
How have you used rewards to motivate and celebrate success on the Lexia program?
When they finish an activity in the program, I will give them a star and when they complete a whole level, they get 3 stars. Of course, they will also get their Lexia certificates in assembly. We have teachers’ special awards as well so I always tend to celebrate successes I am seeing on Lexia at all levels.
It has been a challenge removing some of the stigma that surrounded the program as we previously used it with only the lowest ability students. Since rolling it out more widely, we have been able to remove that stigma and have really turned the students’ perceptions around. It is a program that can support all abilities. Some of the more able students regularly as if they can join Lexia groups now!
How useful have you found the myLexia reports in terms of demonstrating progression and informing planning?
I tend to log into myLexia 2 or 3 times a week. As I typically work with small groups, I have found it really helpful to go into the detail and see if students have any additional needs.
In a whole class setting, if I see a child has been flagged for a Lexia Lesson, I have a little bit of time each week where I can go and get that child and complete a little session to support them with whatever they are struggling with.
I also use the reports to identify who I am going to sit with on the next session. Sometimes sitting with them and talking them through the online activity is all that is needed. The Lexia Lessons are good as well if need to bring them out at any time.
The Skills Report is one I find particularly helpful with our pupils with SEN. We have files in the classroom with IEP and information for each of our SEN children so every term, I will put a copy of the skills report in as well. This means the teacher knows the specific skills they are struggling with and this can inform their IEP next term as well.
On the whole class level, teachers all have access to a myLexia account so they can check in on their own classes as well. I showed the class teachers a bit more of the resources available in myLexia on the Resources Hub during a staff meeting. The staff thought they were brilliant, especially the Close Reads for Year 5 and 6!
What feedback have you had from your Lexia pupils?
Very positive! The children are very enthusiastic about doing Lexia. They enjoy it and I don’t think I know of anyone that doesn’t like working on the program. They are always saying, ‘Oh, I only have one unit left before I finish the level!’ so, they are very self-motivated which is lovely! I am hoping to build on this success and complete more whole class sessions with Year 3 up to Year 5.
Thank you for speaking to us, Colin! Keep an eye on the post for your book voucher and certificate arriving soon!