Literacy Intervention for a Special School (SEND, All Key Stages): Billing Brook

Billing Brook Special School (SEND, all Key Stages) in Northampton started with around 10 learners and after seeing excellent results rolled ReadingWise out throughout the school.

Billing Brook is an all-age special school with 205 pupils, aged three to 19. All pupils have complex learning needs ranging from autism and severe learning difficulties to those who can achieve at lower level GCSEs. All have SEN statements. At its last inspection, the school was graded as outstanding by Ofsted in every area.

Billing Brook started with around 10 learners and after seeing excellent results rolled ReadingWise English out throughout the school. In this case study, headteacher Caroline Grant and literacy co-ordinator Nicola Parker describe their experience of the ReadingWise English programme.

What do you like about the ReadingWise programme?

Caroline: It’s 21st-century learning. It uses technology, which is a great motivator for our children. It’s very structured. It’s outcome-driven. It’s an intense programme and you can really see the progress children make. It’s analytical in its approach, but actually, the children don’t realise they are learning most of the time - because it’s fun.

Is there anything you find particularly effective about ReadingWise?

Nicola: What I really like is that it moves at the children’s pace. It doesn’t let them go further than they can and will give them the chance to try again. Not many programmes we’ve come across allow them to do that and hardly any are entirely phonics-based.

What’s particularly good about it is you can set it at a really basic level, so if the children achieve quickly you can then move them onto a harder level. But if you set them at a level that’s too hard you can bring them back and recap some of the prior learning. It allows them to take ownership of their learning.

You were one of the first schools to try the programme. What impact has it had?

Nicola: When we did the trial last year, we had two groups drawn from Years 6 and 7. We assessed their reading age at the beginning and again at the end of the programme. The progress we saw was between three and ten months for 20 hours’ worth of intervention.

The fact that two of the children made 10 months’ progress over 20 hours was phenomenal for us – and no one achieved less than three months’ progress. For children who have special needs and disabilities, even one month’s progress is fantastic, but this programme has exceeded our expectations.

What has the outcome of the trial been for your school?

Caroline: What we didn’t expect was that it would become an integral part of our intervention strategies and that we would be able to roll it out across the whole school. It’s become an essential part of our toolbox. It’s been successful not only in the progress pupils have made but in stimulating their love of reading. It’s really important to them.

So the children really enjoy using ReadingWise?

Caroline: Yes they do. The biggest plus about having a package like this is that children ask to do it. They are motivated because they like the technology. They want to do it and choose to do it, instead of feeling they have to do it - and that’s a huge compliment to the programme.

How easy is ReadingWise for staff to deliver?

Caroline: People who work in schools are very busy in their jobs and the real benefit of the programme is that it’s quick and easy to learn and easy to implement. It can be delivered effectively by teaching assistants, cover supervisors, or supply staff as well as teachers. When staff are working hard, which mine are, we must have something that is really good ⏤ and this programme is.

So the ReadingWise programme can be delivered flexibly across all key stages?

Nicola: Every teacher is trained in the programme, no matter what key stage they teach in and they’ve seen the progress that we’ve had with it. So if a key stage 1 teacher came to me and said, “I’ve got a child who I believe would benefit from this”, there’s nothing to stop us from saying, “Let’s go for it”.

Would you recommend it to other schools?

Caroline: Yes we would. We were delighted to be part of the trial. We liked the fact that it’s not just a special needs programme. It’s mainstream as well and we are very much into inclusion and inclusive practice.

We could see the value immediately for our school, but we could also see the value for other schools. We work with other schools, providing school-to-school support, and we have recommended that they look at this programme because people can understand it quickly and it can be put in place quickly.

Work with ReadingWise to improve literacy results in your school 

Take a look at our other case studies and testimonials from teachers, TAs, headteachers, and literacy leads at primary and secondary schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs).

ReadingWise offers four core modules, plus a comprehensive Learners Library, Teacher Training, and a Dashboard that you can integrate with other school software, and use to demonstrate attainment against the Pupil Premium Budget. Here is our pricing for more information

Zip : Phonics for primary schools, reception, and Y1. 

Vocab : A special vocabulary programme for learners aged 6 - 16, for primaries and secondaries.

Decoding : A comprehensive module for learners with a reading age below their chronological age irrespective of key stage. 

Comprehension : A powerful, engaging, and fun literacy intervention module to develop the quest for meaning behind a narrative. Its content, structure, and design deliver age-appropriate sessions for Primary and Secondary schools Years 5-9.

Over 100,000 pupils in UK schools have completed a ReadingWise programme! We hope to help you and your children, too.

“ReadingWise is really good value for money. We have seen it as being a highly effective intervention that offers personalised learning to large numbers of children and has a measurable impact in a short amount of time.” Jenny Taylor, Headteacher, Horfield Primary School, Bristol - 85% pass in 2016 reading SATs

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