Guest Post: How to increase literacy rates despite budget and staffing challenges.

Budget cuts may mean fewer staff. Reduced staffing could hit the bedrock of education – literacy – hard. Here’s a way through.

This is a sponsored guest post from Readingwise. 

 Against all evidence, the government continues to deny that schools face funding cuts. But the reality is that some schools are being hit hard, with an 8% real terms decrease in school funding by 2020. Over the last few years, astute heads had predicted this and endeavored to make savings while minimising impact on their students. But many now feel they must cut staff.

While having fewer staff will affect all students, those who need additional literacy support are a particularly vulnerable group. The capacity for a school to offer one-to-one intervention or similar could be stretched. Increasing pressure on the classroom teacher may mean they have to pick up the role. Both teacher and class suffer; literacy progress may slow among struggling readers.

However, ReadingWise is a groundbreaking literacy intervention that achieves amazing results by taking learners through a carefully structured, personalised learning journey. ReadingWise transforms even the most reluctant readers to enthusiastic, book-hungry participants without significantly increasing teacher workloads.

The HeadTeacher at St Ambrose Barlow High School has observed the benefits first hand.

“ReadingWise offers us a way to close the gap as pupils move from primary to secondary, and I think crucially within the school, it offers us a way to close the gap as they progress through the year groups.”

ReadingWise’s efforts to deliver the greatest literacy impact at scale have roots in India, where many millions are illiterate. There, the programme has reached 150,000 women. Here in the UK, the literacy challenge was also stark. Up to 20% of children consistently leave primary school with poor literacy. The ReadingWise reading programme was adapted to address this challenge. It went through a proof of concept trial in primary, secondary and special schools in 2014. The study showed a 9-month reading age increase in 20 hours.

Since then we’ve reached over 10,000 students across the UK in over 200 schools. Of these students, around 1,264 have pre and post assessment data. The impact of literacy interventions often decreases as they scale. This is due to less consistent delivery. In our case, the impact has been maintained, with over 9 months reading age increase in an average of 12.5 hours. This is likely due to the consistent delivery offered by technology.

 CEO Jamie Fries has a bold vision. “Our aim is to ensure EVERY child has good literacy. And the model is simple. We aim to help schools to maximise reach and deliver impact as quickly and efficiently as possible. A 2-hour training session prepares teaching assistants and key staff to deliver the programme”.

 So how is it delivered? Once up and running, ReadingWise’s regular 20-30 minute sessions are scheduled for groups of 10 pupils. Assessment data defines appropriate, personalised sequences of lessons. Students work independently, with schools consistently reporting improved self-esteem and engagement in mainstream lessons. These themes are explored in the University of Cambridge report, Reading More Wisely.

 And Jamie is very pleased with the results “Impact is rapid, with an average reading age increase of over 9 months in less than 1 term. Many schools work with several groups through the day, meaning that 30, 40 or more struggling readers can be reached effectively by a single, trained teaching assistant”.

At ReadingWise, we believe that literacy is a foundational human right. We believe our model offers a way to mitigate the negative effects of school funding challenges and maximises literacy impact across a school or MAT. According to the EEF toolkit, the most cost-effective literacy interventions are around £100 per learner. Depending on the scale and setting, we are able to bring these costs significantly below this base.

To find out more about how ReadingWise can transform literacy levels at your school, book a 20-minute demo: readingwise.com/enquiry

You can also watch these short films and hear from heads, SENCOs and pupils.

Primary school: http://www.readingwise.com/case-studies/horfield-ce-primary-school

Secondary school: http://www.readingwise.com/case-studies/st-ambrose-barlow-high-school

Or if you are in a special school, you can download a case study here: http://readingwise.com/case-studies/billing-brook-special-school 

Contact Information: Tel:01273843927 info@readingwise.com @readingwise

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Categories: 1st POST, Guest Post and Teaching.

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