Marple Hall is a secondary school located in greater Manchester and an avid user of Lexonik Advance and Leap programmes. They’ve seen amazing progress with their students gaining an average of 31 months reading age gain. We spoke to their Intervention Literacy Lead Claire Beirne about her experience with Lexonik.
What happens when you re-enter the world of work after a career break, and find yourself being assigned a role which gives you more satisfaction than you’d ever previously experienced in your professional journey?
Claire Beirne has been telling us more.
Tell us about you and your school
I’m Claire Beirne, and I’m the Intervention Literacy Lead at Marple Hall, a secondary school based in Greater Manchester.
Teaching wasn’t your first professional route, so can you tell us how you find yourself here, delivering Lexonik to hundreds of engaged students who are making great progress?
You’re right. I’ve only been in education for just over five years – and now I feel so fortunate that it found me.
I had spent 19 years in the HR side of retail, and it really was a great job to do in so many respects. I loved the training and the recruitment side of my role, but not so much the managing performance aspects.
I decided to leave retail when I finally had my daughter Harriett, and after a few years of being at home with her, a friend suggested I consider finding a teaching or school-based role, which would fit my skills, and allow me to have a flexible work life balance.
And so you came to Marple Hall?
Yes, finding this role in a school, utilising my background in training and development, while educating and inspiring young people – it’s a match made in heaven!
Can you explain why Lexonik was chosen as an intervention by your school?
Our Whole-School Literacy Lead, Miss Shakeshaft, has lots of connections across the education community, and was hearing such good things about Lexonik. It seemed so unique in its approach and its results. We became really intrigued, and decided we owed it to all of our students to take a look.
You clearly liked what you saw. What happened next?
We decided to purchase Advance and were quick to start integrating it.
Marple Hall School is very literacy-focussed and therefore designated a person to lead their interventions. I was successful in being appointed to the role and was accredited in both Advance and Leap.
From the outset, I loved it. I call it ‘the Unicorn’ because it’s so different, and because you really have to see it in action to believe the level of improvement it creates.
As someone who had professionally had a background in training, how did you find being put through your paces on the Lexonik programme?
So wonderful. I’m nearly 50 and I’ve trained all my life through my career roles, but I’ve never broken down words in the way I do now!
As a school we use the Frayer Model, which helps students break down the root meanings of words. Lexonik enhances this with its unique and structured programme - I honestly love it!
Clearly, you’re converted to Lexonik as an intervention. What do the pupils think.
They find the whole thing quite mesmerising. They get to grips with the idea of morphology really quickly, and other subject teachers share what an impact it is having across the whole of the curriculum, because of the way the students have grasped it and how it’s extended their vocabulary.
Many a time, I have had students come to me straight after sitting their exams and saying how much it helped them, to have learned Lexonik with me. They say it enabled them to understand and interpret an exam question in a way they may not have been able to previously.
What years of students have been subject to the intervention, and how impressive have the results been?
I’ve taught just under 90 students, across years 7 to 11.
Every student has advanced their reading age, with the average across that cohort being an improvement by 31 months.
What would you say to other schools who may be considering which intervention to go for, and wondering whether Lexonik would be right for them?
I would say ‘look at your need in school’, and ask yourself honestly if you want the kind of intervention which is going to deliver a true impact.
Sure, it won’t be the cheapest option on the market, but it’s 100% effective.
Any other specific tips for embedding it into a school?
Yes. I do think you need to allocate someone who will embrace it and embed it.
I’ve found it has been exceptionally beneficial that our Senior Leadership Team has been so supportive and has given me the appropriate time to train Leap and Advance properly and authorised that I take the lead on both programmes.