Case Study
· UK · Schools & Colleges

Lancaster Academy

Loretta lancaster academy

As recently as this April, Lancaster Academy received its OFSTED report. The report praises the ‘prioritisation of reading’, including the use of the ‘phonics programmes’ (LEXONIK Leap and Advance) which ‘helps pupils to improve their reading and to access the rest of the curriculum’.

Here, Loretta Eatwell, Strategic Lead for Whole School Reading, tells us more.

Congratulations on your latest Ofsted report, and thanks for sharing with our team that Lexonik’s reading and phonics intervention gained recognition. Can you tell us something about the broad context of your school?

Thank you. We’re delighted.

Yes, I’d love to tell people about our school and what we’re doing to support and progress students in their reading.

We’re Lancaster Academy, which is based in Leicester as part of the Learning Without Limits Academy Trusy (LwLAT).

Our approach is underpinned by a nurturing focus on getting our pupils truly ready for work and for all that life might bring their way.

And clearly, with an ethos like that, you recognise the moral imperative of enabling students to read and have vocabulary comprehension?


We want all of our children to have a good grasp of reading, and we know that for many, that can be significantly more challenging.

In particular, we have a high proportion of pupil premium students, and a high proportion of EAL students.

Taking that into account, it means we are very aware that we have to work hard at delivering reading in a way that will rapidly progress their

reading ability and start to fill the gaps in their knowledge across all subjects

Was the high proportion of PP and EAL one of the key reasons you started to seek out a literacy intervention? 

Part of our cohort of students is made up of new arrivals into the country. This means that some students have not experienced the traditional primary school phonics programme, which underpins reading.

For them, some of the approaches we’d previously considered or tried, just weren’t enough.

In addition, we were conscious that a lot of our staff aren’t primary or phonics trained, so we wanted to seek out a solution which was perfect for achieving quick results, but also for being clear, precise and straightforward for our TA’s and similar non-qualified teaching staff to deliver.

Tell us about the discovery of Lexonik and what you immediately recognised as a benefit:

We were referred on to Lexonik by a school in the Midlands with a similar cohort of students to our own, who had experienced success with the programme. Once we had received a demonstration of it, we felt it would be a great fit for our school, too.

One of the things which makes the programme so straightforward is that all the resources are provided.

Staff feel comfortable to deliver sessions and they have tools like the online videos to access, so they can go back and check the phonics sounds and feel confident with every stage of their delivery.

What age and level of students did you start with?

We opted to go with our weakest readers of about 68 students across the year, aged between 11 and 13.

Our rationale was that if they hadn’t got the ability to access texts independently by the age of their GCSEs commencing, then they simply wouldn’t be able to decode their exam questions and texts.

We wanted to ensure that we were giving our students the skills they need in Key Stage 3, prior to beginning their GCSEs in Key Stage 4.

How about the teaching staff to deliver the programmes, did you have to increase your resource or do more training?

Fortunately we’d had a skeleton intervention programme in place so we did have intervention tutors, and they were able to quickly move across to this.

There was a slight bit of resistance early on – only due to confidence – but as soon as they began delivering the programme and started seeing the results, they were thrilled and couldn’t wait to deliver each time.

And talking of results, what have you seen?

On average reading age progress between October 22-23
18 Months

This was a hugely positive outcome for us, particularly when you consider we have a high turnover of students because of the number coming in new to the country and then being relocated.

What happens after your students have graduated from Leap?

They can move straight on to Advance, which is what a number are now doing. They’re really seeing the benefit, and teachers around the school in various lessons have mentioned how learners are decoding words and using the principles learned in Lexonik.

What would you say to other schools considering such interventions?

Go for it. It’s really easy to implement; all the resources are provided and are of a high quality. There is fantastic support from the Lexonik team through quality training and ongoing support via email or telephone.

It’s worked really well for us and we would definitely recommend.

Students love the ‘game-based’ nature of it that’s built into the sessions, and our teachers feel more confident about their ability to deliver.

It’s a win-win.

For more information about Leap or Advance for your school, please visit our Literacy Intervention Programmes page.