How Multi-Academy Trusts Benefit from ReadingWise for Literacy

Getting the best literacy and reading learning outcomes at primary and secondary schools is a crucial part of delivering a comprehensive curriculum. ReadingWise is an online evidence-based reading and literacy intervention programme. Our programmes support children of every age and across every key stage in multi-academy trusts (MATs) across the UK.

Before 2010, there were 203 ‘Sponsored academies’; a Labour government concept that brought onboard private sponsors to support struggling schools.

Some of these were City Technology Colleges, and both acted as preludes to Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) and schools that are standalone trusts rather than being local authority-maintained schools.

In 2010, the then Coalition government introduced the Academies Act 2010, allowing any school to become a trust or join a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). Since then, successive governments have encouraged as many schools as possible to become trusts or join MATs.

How many schools are single academies (SATs) or multi-academy trusts (MATs)?

In 2024, there are 32,163 schools in the UK (BESA), and out of that total, “39% of primary schools are academies” and “79% of secondary schools” are academies (FFT Education Datalab).

In recent years, the data shows that:

Here’s a graphic showing the current state of play of academies vs. other types of schools across the UK. This comparison groups together: academies, which include academies, free schools, university technical colleges, and studio schools; LA maintained or foundation schools; and voluntary aided or voluntary controlled schools.


Given the diverse nature of academies ⏤ whether primary or secondary, single or multi-academy ⏤ teachers, TAs, literacy leads, and SENDcos face the same series of literacy challenges as in non-academies.

Some academies, naturally, have more literacy and reading challenges than others, especially when there’s a higher percentage of children with special needs (SEND), from disadvantaged backgrounds, or who speak English as another language (EAL).

How Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) and Single Academy Trusts (SATs) Benefit from ReadingWise for Literacy?

Since launching, ReadingWise has helped over 300,000 pupils in every size of school ⏤ academies, free schools, LA maintained or foundation schools, virtual schools, pupil referral units (PRUs), and voluntary aided or voluntary controlled schools ⏤ improve their literacy and reading outcomes.

A DfE-funded study found that ReadingWise helped to increase the average reading age almost 10 months in less than 1 term.

In 2022, ReadingWise started working with Star Academies, a mixed Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) that runs a diverse network of 37 primary and secondary schools across Lancashire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, the Midlands, and London. After a brief trial period, ReadingWise was rolled out across all 23 of Star Academies secondary schools.

Star Academies is one of the country’s leading education providers and is often showcased as a success story for the academy model and is used as an example by the Department for Education.

Impact of ReadingWise in a Multi-Academy Trus

After 12 months of working with ReadingWise across 23 secondary schools, Star Academies used the New Group Reading Test (NGRT) to benchmark reading fluency and were impressed with the following results:


“ReadingWise is our trust-wide reading intervention strategy for all 23 of our secondary schools. They go above and beyond with training and product support. I’m delighted to say that since it was rolled out in 2022, the number of fluent readers has increased significantly and this includes disadvantaged pupils and those with special educational needs.”

Lisa Crausby OBE, Executive Director, Star Academies

The ReadingWise literacy solution meant that all areas of reading – decoding, comprehension, and vocabulary – could be approached through a single system. This provides teachers in the MAT with a coherent, unified way of improving literacy.

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How does a Multi-Academy Trust implement ReadingWise across 10+ schools?

As a teacher or headteacher, that’s got to be something you wonder about.

It only takes 2 hours of training and a couple of admin hours to implement an online literacy app like ReadingWise in a small primary school, or even one secondary school. But what about when it’s across 10+ schools in a MAT?

In the case of Star Academies, this was rolled out across 23 secondary schools. That’s not our record! A Scottish Local Authority is using ReadingWise across 52 schools ⏤ primaries, secondaries, and special schools.

Here’s how we rolled out ReadingWise across 23 secondary schools in a MAT:

  1. Tailored testing to align the ReadingWise Modules with pupils' needs. 

To achieve this across over twenty thousand pupils, a careful pre and post-implementation evaluation programme was put in place using standardised reading (NGRT) assessments as the benchmark. 

This careful matching of literacy programmes to the needs of pupils is another feature of ReadingWise that other online literacy programmes don’t offer. It’s another reason why Star Academies entrusted ReadingWise with improving literacy across the 23 secondary schools within the MAT. 

Based on the results, students were placed in one of four categories before the ReadingWise roll-out: 

With the establishment of these cohorts, timetabling was put in place to ensure needs were met in a methodical, measurable way. Pupils’ needs were matched and calibrated to the four core ReadingWise modules: Zip, Vocab, Comprehension, and Decoding

  1. Methodical training of all staff across the 23 Star Academies schools

Staff at every level, including teachers, TAs, literacy leads, and SEND specialists, were trained in Zip, Vocab, Comprehension, and Decoding, the four modules deployed to raise reading levels across this MAT. 

Teaching roles such as Book Culture Lead were created under the ‘World Class Reading Culture’ initiative which was brilliantly designed and implemented by the Star Academies leadership team.

Don’t worry though, training doesn’t take days or weeks. It doesn’t even have to be done on-site. All it takes is 2 hours of online training. 

  1. Integration with other school software/systems to make admin easier 

Data management software, Wonde, was used to sync data between the Star Academies MiS (Management Information System) and the ReadingWise system. This saved many hours of administration time for the Star Academies staff, ensuring they could focus on teaching and supporting students, rather than doing extra admin work. 

Reporting tools within the ReadingWise programme allowed the literacy leads to quickly and efficiently review engagement, impact, and student progress. 

Now well into the second full academic year using ReadingWise, Star Academies secondary schools are going from strength to strength, with literacy results improving across the board. 

Nothing speaks louder than the results ReadingWise achieves for schools. To round this article up, here’s another testimonial from an Assistant Principal at a Star Academy school: 

"Since implementing ReadingWise in our curriculum, we have observed a substantial improvement in the students' vocabulary acquisition. The interactive and engaging nature of the software has captivated their interest, making the learning process enjoyable and effective.”

Vocabulary : this module has proven positive outcomes as it contributes significantly to our pupils’ overall language proficiency.”

Comprehension : this module stands out for us as it promotes engaging in discussions that help improve pupils' reading ages by enhancing comprehension, critical thinking, and vocabulary. The discussion questions deepen understanding while expressing and expanding their language skills, which ultimately contribute to improved reading proficiency.”

Decoding : this module’s personalised approach caters to individual learning styles, ensuring that each pupil receives tailored support to enhance their decoding skills. The real-time tracking and progress reports have been instrumental in gauging the effectiveness of the program and identifying areas for additional focus.”

Support- the team at ReadingWise fosters positivity and promotes efficiency by making sure we are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the modules. They help us to fix errors quickly and without a fuss. These are just a few reasons why collaborating with the team has meant overall success for the implementation of ReadingWise at our school.”

Sumaya Omerji, Assistant Principal, Quality of Education and Book Culture Lead, Eden Boys' Leadership Academy (a Star Academy secondary school in Manchester)

Find out more about our: 

ReadingWise Modules

ReadingWise Pricing

Case Studies and Testimonials

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