ReadingWise Success With Multi-Academy Trusts

Ensuring children at primary and secondary schools achieve the highest levels of literary attainment possible is a mission-critical issue for MATs such as Star Academies.

In the last academic year, 54.4% of children in England were pupils in multi-academy trust schools (MATs). This percentage is set to grow year on year. This places a great and increasing responsibility on multi-academy trusts to deliver for our children and for our future.

Underpinning their education is reading. If multi-academy trusts can make reading a success for every child, every subject area will benefit, and stronger results will follow. Reading must be the key priority for every multi-academy trust.

The stubborn reading gap existed before the creation of trusts. It still exists today. Innovation, dedication, and focus are required to reduce and remove poor reading that blights futures.


For more than a decade we have worked tirelessly, partnering with schools and multi-academy trusts to improve reading. From small primary-only groups to large and complex primary and secondary groups, our unique experience offers multi-academy trusts a unifying, effective, and trusted proposition.

Examples of MATs we work with include Star Academies, Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust, and Consilium Academies.

Evidence-based and Effective in All Areas of Reading

Before we launched ReadingWise we conducted a proof-of-concept randomised controlled trial. We take impact seriously and aim to deliver the most effective programmes possible. This pilot RCT demonstrated an average reading age increase of 9.7 months in 20 hours. This pilot was across 4 primary schools, 1 special school, and 1 secondary school.

Subsequently, ReadingWise programmes have been subject to studies by the Department for Education (a 17-school, gold-standard RCT) and Cambridge University. Our impact has been consistently strong as outlined in the Star Academies data later in this article.

Our modules cover the full range of needs for a multi-academy trust looking to improve reading. From phonics and decoding, to comprehension, and to vocabulary development, ReadingWise has it covered. This range allows you to harmonise literacy intervention across your schools, and to develop efficiencies in training and upskilling, reporting, and an effective trust-wide rollout.

The quality of the training is very high and can include teaching assistants, classroom teachers, SENDCos, literacy leads, and senior leaders. This would depend on the bespoke model for your trust. In the DfE study, 92% of staff found the training good, very good, or excellent. It is hard to overstate how dedicated we are to the ongoing support of trusts that partner with ReadingWise to improve reading.

Every child benefits, not just those falling behind. Our Vocab module, for example, can be tailored to your curriculum. Word lists from selected books can be targeted. Tier3 words and disciplinary vocabulary can be allocated in tune with the classroom focus. The programme can stretch the ablest and nurture those catching up.

Many years of work went into each module. To dive deeper into our evidence and our programmes, consider arranging a conversation with one of our team.

“The results have been truly phenomenal.” Nicola Parker, Literacy Coordinator, Billing Brook Special School

Why Star Academies Selected ReadingWise

Across the UK we know that at least 20% of children fail to achieve adequate literacy levels before leaving in year 11. Less than half of students in England achieved a level 5 pass in GCSE English last year. The negative consequences of this go far beyond not wanting or being able to enjoy a good book.

According to the World Literacy Foundation, a 2018 study found that “illiteracy is estimated to cost the UK economy approximately £80 billion (per year).” Another National Literacy Trust report states that: “1 in 6 (16.4%) adults in England are estimated to have very low literacy, which means they may struggle with longer texts and unfamiliar topics (OECD, 2016).

One of the reasons that literacy attainment and ensuring every pupil achieves a high level of reading as possible has been prioritised is that Star Academies recognises the profound importance of reading to the wider curriculum and to all educational outcomes. Like many trusts, Star Academies’ schools are often in areas where there’s a mix of pupils who are new to the English language, who live in disadvantaged boroughs, or who have special educational needs.


In fact, Star Academies’ schools have a higher-than-average number of SEN pupils. Star Academies sought to improve literacy attainment by finding a literacy intervention programme that would meet a diverse range of pupil needs from years 7 to 11.

After a careful and robust selection process and review of alternatives by Literacy Leads, English Teachers, Headteachers, and SEND Teachers, ReadingWise was selected to work with all 21 Star secondaries in March 2022. As new secondaries have joined the trust, they have joined the programme and we now reach 23 secondaries.

“ReadingWise is our trust-wide reading intervention strategy for all 23 of our secondary schools.”

Lisa Crausby OBE, Executive Director, Star Academies

Lisa Crausby OBE, Executive Director, Star Academies

How ReadingWise Was Implemented Across 23 Star Academies Secondary Schools

ReadingWise covers all areas of reading – decoding, comprehension, and vocabulary. This provides leaders and teachers in the trust with a coherent, unified approach to improve literacy.

ReadingWise advised the trust to use the NGRT (New Group Reading Test) to benchmark reading across all schools. Wonde, a school's data management software suite, was used to streamline the administration, management, and roll-out of ReadingWise across all 23 secondary schools.

Implementing the ReadingWise programme for over twenty thousand pupils involved a careful evaluation process using standardised reading assessments as the benchmark. Based on the results, students were placed in one of four categories before the ReadingWise roll-out:

Category 1

Fluent readers (standardised score of 100+)

Category 2

Pupils at risk of not accessing the curriculum (standardised score of 85 to 100)

Category 3

Early readers (score below 85)

Category 4

Pupils new to English.


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.

The aim of ReadingWise being used in the 23 Star Academy secondary schools was to increase the number of ‘fluent readers’ and reduce the number of ‘early readers.’

Methodical training of all staff across the 23 Star Academies schools laid the foundation for success. 

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. 

To support the roll-out, 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.

Success of ReadingWise Across Star Academies Schools After 12 Months

ReadingWise Star Academies Collaboration: Table of Results After 12 Months (September 2022 - Summer 2023)


After only 12 months, ReadingWise has demonstrated a measurable, quantifiable impact on pupils’ ability to read, comprehend, and actually enjoy reading. At ReadingWise, we know this goes far beyond the improving academic attainment metrics for pupils, teachers, and parents.

The results were strong, as outlined above, with an additional 1,357 pupils becoming fluent readers after one year of using ReadingWise. There were 446 fewer ‘early readers’ in the same timeframe.

As we can see from the NGRT data ⏤ independently verified rather than relying on an internal scoring mechanism as other reading providers do ⏤ after 12 months:

“Within the last 12 months, 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

Improving secondary school literacy results at Star Academies

Star Power: Why Multi-Academy Trusts Need ReadingWise to Boost Literacy Results

“As we’ve seen with Star Academies MAT, ReadingWise has made a positive immediate and long-term impact on literacy attainment for thousands of pupils. The results are independently measurable, rather than relying on metrics we, the provider, generate and supply.”

“ReadingWise is our trust-wide reading intervention strategy for all 23 of our secondary schools. It has provided an accessible and inclusive solution to help all pupils become fluent readers.”

“The Vocab module is used successfully across all schools to support Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary and is closely linked to our ambitious curriculum. The Comprehension module serves our struggling readers and the Decoding module supports our early readers to make rapid improvements.”

“The ReadingWise team goes the extra mile to personalise the product to meet our needs. They also provide intensive training and follow-upto ensure all schools maximise the potential of the programmes.”

“Consequently, within the last 12 months, 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

Are you ready to see the difference at your Multi-Academy Trust, secondary, or primary school?

Find out everything you need to know about ReadingWise with our friendly, knowledgeable team.

Boost your multi-academy trust’s literacy results: Arrange your 20-minute demo at a time to suit you.

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Over 300,000 pupils in UK schools have completed a ReadingWise programme! We hope to help you and your children, too.

Improving primary school literacy results at Star Academies Academy schools

"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)

Improving secondary school literacy results at Star Academies

ReadingWise: Measurable, Impressive Results, Tailored Programmes, Ongoing Support for Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs)

“Over the years we have been using ReadingWise there has always been a positive impact on our learner’s reading and vocabulary acquisition which has positively supported our pupils when accessing lessons throughout their school career.”

“We started using ReadingWise back in 2017. We were offered training for two administrators and to be part of the pilot which followed. This was a unique programme and after interesting and thorough training we were keen to get started. The pilot was extremely successful, and the supporting data proved how quickly pupil’s reading ages were increasing, some were moving up years rather than months in a very short time.

“Our learners have always enjoyed the programme and even now will still ask for extra sessions, it brings a competitive streak to reading attainment.”

“When we invested in the programme, we utilised the Decoding and Comprehension modules. We initially started with small, precise learning groups, and over the years we have continually grown and ReadingWise has become embedded within our daily Intervention programme. It’s also utilised by our EAL team and is used daily, especially the Vocab unit which has proven invaluable for our EAL students and has rapidly increased their understanding of the English Language.”

N Gould, Headteacher, John Willmott School, Sutton Coldfield, part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), an MAT.

Michelle has over 20 years’ experience of teaching English and has a track record of supporting English departments in inner-city schools to achieve excellent outcomes. She has extensive leadership experience, having been a Head of English for ten years and then a senior leader for more than five years.

“As Academy Improvement Advisor for English and Literacy, Michelle works across all academies in the Trust, supporting the English and Literacy leaders to achieve the best possible outcomes for the learners.”

“Fairfax MAT schools have been using ReadingWise Decoding and Comprehension across the trust since June 2023.”


Decoding has proven effective at improving reading among our secondary students identified as having weaker word reading skills. Based on external pre and post assessment data, the average reading age increase for our students has been 1 year and 2 months. This is particularly impressive as 66% of this cohort are pupil premium students and 32% are EAL students.

“In specific schools, using NGRT to benchmark pre and post, we saw Bournville students improve their reading ages by 12.6 months on average, Smith’s Wood by 15 months, and the year 11 students at Erdington by 28 months on average.”


The comprehension module does more than ask students comprehension questions relating to texts. It actively aims to improve their comprehension by explicitly developing comprehension strategies which is in line with the evidence. These strategies can then be applied to texts encountered outside of the intervention sessions, whether in other curriculum areas or in the outside world.”

Training and Support

“Chloe has led the ReadingWise initiative across Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust. The level of support has been excellent. Staff across all schools have been trained, Chloe proactively works to ensure the roll-out is an effective and successful as possible, and the ReadingWise team’s primary interest is clearly in ensuring the maximum impact on our students’ reading.”

“Chloe has been on hand consistently whenever extra help, support and training has been needed and we couldn’t have asked for a better level service throughout - from planning to day-to-day delivery.”

“Our experience has been very positive, both in terms of the impact on reading levels across our schools and in terms of the training and ongoing support that our staff receive. I’d fully recommend ReadingWise to other trusts exploring ways to improve reading outcomes.”

Michelle Rabicano, Academy Improvement Advisor for English and Literacy, Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust

Improving secondary school literacy results at Star Academies

Whether you lead a MAT, you are a head teacher within an academy, or you are responsible for literacy at the trust or school level, we know you have enough on your plate.

We make everything from the roll-out and training to reporting, assessments, and admin as easy as possible for every school, teacher, and leader responsible for literacy in your trust.

Boost your multi-academy trust’s literacy results: Arrange your 20-minute demo at a time to suit you.

Book your Demo.

“I would strongly recommend ReadingWise to any primary, secondary, or multi-academy trust school struggling with literacy attainment.”

N Gould, Headteacher, John Willmott School, Sutton Coldfield

Phone: 01273 843927

Email: [email protected]

“The ReadingWise team goes the extra mile to personalise the product to meet our needs. They also provide intensive training and follow-up to ensure all schools maximise the potential of the programmes.” Lisa Crausby, OBE, Executive Director, Star Academies

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