“The results really have been quite phenomenal, and the confidence and resilience this has built in our students is something we could never have expected”

Alexandra Forsyth, Vice Principal at North Shore Academy
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Building the relationship and creating consistency

In November 2020, Northern Education Trust initiated their Trust-wide partnership with Lexonik, ensuring their consistency in approach to literacy interventions, teaching and progress across the Trust, as well as strategically aligning assessments with intervention solutions. 

The journey to this Trust-wide partnership began with developing close relationships with key members of SLT. Northern Education Trust saw the impact of Lexonik Advance and Lexonik Leap in 11 schools initially and engaged in consultative conversations with the Directors at Lexonik, exploring an intervention map, using NGRT data from GL Assessment to identify intervention pathways and exploring the strategic solutions Lexonik could offer. 

 Alexandra Forsyth, Vice Principal at North Shore Academy, explains, “The Trust leadership team recognised that we needed to improve the consistency in our approach to reading assessment and tuition across the Trust.  We needed to be serving our students with a more uniformed approach, in particular around reading, which was an area where we recognised that a number of our young people were having less than perfect outcomes.” 

Key outcomes

  • Average reading age increased by 37-60 months across the three groups and the average standardised score increased by 15-28 points.
  • It unmistakably builds confidence and makes students feel more resilient. They’re working out ways to decode words for themselves which produces a level of assertiveness and pride.
  • “What we then see with that increased confidence is children managing their behaviour better and coping with other aspects of the curriculum. What more could a teacher want for their students?” 
Alexandra Forsyth
Vice Principal at North Shore Academy

Assessed, identified, now what?

Committed to achieving that uniformity in reading assessment and teaching, the NET opted to use GL Assessment’s New Group Reading Test (NGRT).  This standardised, termly, adaptive assessment allowed them to truly understand the picture of reading comprehension across all of the Trust’s schools. 

Armed with the knowledge that, after using NGRT, around 46% of Trust students, aged between 11 and 14, were performing below their age expectation, it was clear that a reading intervention solution was needed. The Trust wasted no time in finding one and knocked on the door of Lexonik. 

“Our values are all about serving the needs of our students in the most effective way possible, and sometimes that means implementing change which may once have seemed radical,” continues Alexandra. 

The capacity of intervention programmes from Lexonik, and their alignment with NGRT data, meant that their use was immediately evident. Not only do Lexonik provide validated progress data of an average of 27 months reading age gains in just 6 weeks (Northumbria University, 2017), but the training, resources, schemes of work, implementation and ongoing consultative support meant that NET could be confident that the proposed interventions would be monitored and evaluated with the support of the experts at Lexonik. 

Our intervention programme's strategic link to Standard Age Scores (SAS) make finding solutions very straightforward:

North Shore Academy Alexandra Forsyth

“We were blown away by how quickly Lexonik Advance showed us the success across the Trust. We had high expectations, but we were new to the concept of a reading intervention and were not sure of the results we might expect.”

Alexandra Forsyth, Vice Principal at North Shore Academy

Immediate impact

Alexandra said: “The results have been quite phenomenal, and the confidence and resilience this has built in our students is something we could never have expected.” 

Northern Education Trust North Shore Academy is a case in point. After testing with NGRT, students were placed in three intervention groups who followed the Advance programme from September to December 2021. Over this relatively short period, the average reading age increased by 37-60 months across the three groups and the average standardised score increased by 15-28 points. 

Alexandra’s positive verdict is shared by her colleagues. She says the approach absolutely confirms the idea that when learning capacity is improved, so does the personal level of self-esteem and self-belief in that child. 

She continues, “We were blown away by how quickly Lexonik Advance showed us the success across the Trust. We had high expectations, but we were new to the concept of a reading intervention and were not sure of the results we might expect. It unmistakably builds confidence and makes students feel more resilient. They’re working out ways to decode words for themselves which produces a level of assertiveness and pride. 

“What we then see, with that increased confidence, is children managing their behaviour better and coping with other aspects of the curriculum. What more could a teacher want for their students?” 

North Short Academy - Students Reading
North Shore Academy Alexandra Forsyth

“It’s absolutely clear to us that we’ve formed a great partnership in using NGRT and Lexonik’s undeniably successful solution.”

Alexandra Forsyth, Vice Principal at North Shore Academy

Everyone on board

Lexonik consult with schools on a daily basis and stress the importance of ensuring interventions don’t just remain in the intervention classroom. All teachers need the skill, confidence and toolkit to explicitly teach key reading, vocabulary and spelling strategies, which results in improved quality-first teaching. NET therefore also began using Lexonik Vocabulary, Lexonik’s whole-school cloud-based programme which connects the dots between what is learned in intervention and the classroom, as well as equipping all staff and students with the knowledge and skills necessary to comprehend academic vocabulary independently and at the point of need. 

Staff training and confidence was also essential throughout this development, not only for those delivering the interventions, which is in the capable hands of the Lexonik Regional Trainers, but the training and confidence of all staff. We are not all English teachers, and most staff in the secondary sphere have little to no initial training in teaching reading, vocabulary, comprehension and spelling, so the whole-school CPD Lexonik delivered across all schools was invaluable. 

Of equal importance to Northern Education Trust has been ensuring that the use of the intervention approach is perceived as fitting and favourable, not only with students but with their parents and, naturally, staff across the academies. 

Alexandra accepts that there was some initial nervousness: “As it’s an intervention, students are being withdrawn from lessons so teachers were initially a little resistant – but then they see the results when the children return, and they couldn’t be happier to champion what we’re doing. 

“Parents too are very happy with the outcomes. They see how they benefit their child more holistically – beyond an enhancement to reading by itself. As we move forward, we’ll be doing more whole-school training, rather than just training a few teachers in each academy, but it’s absolutely clear to us that we’ve formed a great partnership in using NGRT and Lexonik’s undeniably successful solution.” 

Northern Education Trust is a not-for-profit education charity, operating within the North East and North West of England, and works with schools by invitation only.  It was formed in 2012 and currently sponsors 21 Academies – 10 primary and 11 secondary – making it one of the largest Multi Academy Trusts in the North of England.  All of the Trust’s primary academies are rated either Good or Outstanding by Ofsted, and all secondary academies who have been inspected are also Good or Outstanding.