Creating confidence and consistency with NGRT and Lexonik

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. 

 

Creating confidence through consistency

The Trust’s ‘Outcomes Focused, Child Centred’ approach underpins its determination to enhance the life chances of all its students, regardless of their background or ability.  As part of this commitment, it was keen to find a consistent and comprehensive approach to identifying and addressing literacy needs, which are a critical element of ensuring student development and achievement. 

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:

  1. 1

    Northern Education Trust was keen to find a consistent and comprehensive approach to identifying and addressing literacy needs across their academies

  2. 2

    NGRT’s standardised results allowed the Trust to truly understand the picture of reading comprehension across their schools

  3. 3

    The Trust then used Lexonik’s Leap and Advance intervention programmes after testing with NGRT, leading to some impactful improvements

Understanding true need – with NGRT

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.

Alexandra says, “We thought that NGRT was likely to identify significant need across certain age groups, and that a large number of children would require some kind of reading intervention.  We had some students scoring well, but as the NGRT results are standardised, it became much clearer that there was more we could, and should, be doing to assist the reading development of those in the primary age groups in particular.”

An effective intervention

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

“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.

“We began investigating Lexonik, and the capability of their learning systems seemed exactly what we needed, in order to improve our literacy outlook.  Our senior leadership team developed a clear reading intervention programme for any child who fell below functional literacy, and we were measuring this against the reading age scores from NGRT.  Lexonik has various literacy and vocabulary products but, for us, it was Leap and Advance which were the standout solutions.

“We could incorporate these very well into our intervention programme and we would – most importantly – be able to get a clear and evolving picture of what improvement was taking place among the students who had initially been struggling the most.”

Lexonik’s Advance programme is suitable for students with a standardised reading score of 85 – 115 and supports reading, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension. Their Leap programme is for students scoring 85 and below who find reading particularly challenging, as well as for EAL students.

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

Swift success

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-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?”

Everyone on board

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 more happy 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.”

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