Heathbrook Primary School Case Study

Heathbrook Primary School uses ReadingWise to deliver the impact of one-to-one approaches but reach more learners.

ReadingWise English was trialed in early 2013 at Heathbrook Primary School and is still used to support struggling readers. The school uses ReadingWise English to deliver the impact of one-to-one approaches but reach more learners.

“The equivalent benefit of a 1:1 intervention of a literacy specialist.” Marion Guertin, Headteacher

Heathbrook Primary School is in an area of high deprivation and approximately 60 percent of the nearly 400 pupils on its roll are eligible for pupil premium funding. Around 40 percent speak English as an additional language (EAL) and more than 30 percent have special educational needs (SEND).

Heathbrook Primary School headteacher Marion Guertin explains how the ReadingWise programme has benefited the school.

The Headteacher’s View

Marion Guertin is headteacher of Heathbrook Primary School and Children’s Centre, London.

What first attracted you to the ReadingWise literacy intervention programme for KS1 - KS2?

We were looking for new ideas and new ways of working because we knew that we needed to raise our standards. I had worked with a programme called Toe by Toe which is designed to help children with specific learning difficulties, including dyslexia.

One thing that works really well with Toe by Toe is that tiny-little-bit by tiny-little-bit is taught to the child who finds it very difficult to learn. The children don’t move on until they’ve mastered the previous set of learning and are secure in that learning.

It works really well, and I have a huge amount of respect for the programme, but it’s very labor-intensive because it involves one adult working with one child for 15 minutes every day.

So you were looking for something based on similar principles that could be delivered at a lower cost to more children?

Yes. When ReadingWise contacted me and said they’d developed a new computer programme based on the same principles as Toe by Toe, I thought, fantastic, because I know that works. Both programmes are based on the pedagogical theory of ‘overlearning’, whereby children learn by doing a little bit every day and going over previous learning until they achieve mastery. 

The difference is that the ReadingWise programme is computerised, so the children can work at their level and you don’t need one adult per child. Instead, you can have up to ten children, working at their own pace on their laptops, with one adult to supervise and encourage them. It just made complete sense to give it a go.


You were one of the first schools to try out the programme. How did the trial proceed?

We were asked to identify children who were below-average readers. Ten children from Years 2 and 3 were selected to do the programme and another ten were chosen as a control group. All the children were given a reading test at the beginning and end of the trial.

We also had their national curriculum reading levels to check against. By the time we came to the end of the first trial, we could see the improvement that had been made to those children’s reading levels.

What was the impact of ReadingWise?

Most of the children had moved up in terms of their national curriculum reading level and improved significantly in the reading test. We did the 20-hour programme over a three-month period and the minimum improvement was six months in their reading age. So it was a big jump.

Were you impressed with the children’s progress after 3 months? Absolutely. One of the things we noticed is that the children who do the programme tend to start applying the knowledge that they’ve gained to their writing. So although it’s designed to help with their reading we’ve noticed it also impacts positively on their writing.

ReadingWise has made a big difference to their reading and writing, and overall confidence with English. “ReadingWise

Has it made them feel more motivated?

It has. What it’s done is it’s given them a toolkit that they didn’t have before. Before they did the programme they perhaps looked at their writing and thought, ‘I don’t know where to begin’. 

Now they think, ‘Oh yes, I know those sounds, I know those letters, I know how that word is written. I’ll actually have a go’.So it’s given them confidence and armed them with some resources to draw on.

Overall, what are your conclusions?

ReadingWise is great for children who are just below average. It works really well for children in Years 2 and 3 who are struggling with decoding. We currently have eight children doing the programme and they are all doing well.

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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