Case study: Pocklington Junior School
Reading is not only an essential life skill, but a gateway into a world of new experiences. With one in five children unable to read well by age 11, Britain’s primary schools are facing an overwhelming challenge. At Pocklington Junior School, their mission is to foster a reading culture among all students.
With 267 pupils aged seven to 11 years old, Pocklington Junior School specialises in numeracy, literacy, SEN and ITT. Based in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the mixed academy also supports those with ADHD, autism, and additional social and emotional needs.
At present, the school is undergoing a huge cultural change, with a renewed focus on reading. It has a higher than average percentage of SEND students compared to national academy figures – approximately 14.6%. With these figures in mind, Pocklington’s Senco staff are focusing on making reading more accessible to all children.
Lexplore Analytics: the solution to an ongoing challenge
Aimee Cave, SENCo and assistant head at Pocklington Junior School, has been using the Lexplore Analytics system since the 2019 summer term. “As a small academy, we’ve faced a lot of challenges in recent years. In particular, there are many new housing developments in the village, which means an influx of students. Many of them start halfway through the year, so we need to consider this in our school development plan.”
Part of this plan was a shift towards ‘reading for pleasure’. As an expert in children with additional needs, Aimee recognises the importance of reading for personal development. When a colleague introduced her to Lexplore Analytics, she noticed an immediate change in the students, while teachers were able to get a better idea of their class progress. The eye-tracking software provides a visual overview of how students process text, helping to identify any issues early on and determine reading ages.
“We wanted to build a diagnostic package for every individual student. The Lexplore Analytics system helps us to identify the right support that each child needs. For example, children with ADHD may react differently from others. We test every child to see what they struggle with, which helps us build personal development plans.”
How Lexplore Analytics helps
The digital reading tool, which has been featured on media outlets such as BBC News, gives teachers a new insight into children’s cognitive processes. It tracks the child’s eye movements, analysing how long they fixate upon particular words, and how they move on throughout the passage. This helps teachers to pick up on the subtle nuances of how pupils process text – from a lexical, syntactic, semantic and structural point of view.
“We’ve already seen some astounding results,” says Aimee. “For example, we noticed that one student could read a word aloud quite confidently, but was struggling with comprehension. We realised she may have been using a masking strategy. We don’t get that level of insight with standard reading tests.”
The teachers aren’t the only ones thrilled with the results. “We’ve had great feedback from students, especially Years 6s. They actually think the testing is really cool! It’s great to see what’s inside their heads.”
Pocklington Junior School is currently following Lexplore guidelines to monitor students. They review all pupils biannually and take note of areas where they may need additional support. SEND students are reviewed three times a year. By monitoring progress, teachers can see first-hand the effects of these new reading schemes, and identify areas for improvement. For example, they’re encouraging students to broaden their reading beyond schoolbooks alone.
The school has noticed huge time savings, allowing teachers to spend more time with students and parents. “We were able to determine a reading age with our old tests, but they were very time-consuming. Lexplore brings everything together in minutes, including reading ages and difficulties. I can get through two Year 6 classes in a day, and could manage the whole school in a few days,” says Aimee.
Aimee also notes that Lexplore is instrumental in identifying issues early on. “The sooner we identify any issues with reading, the sooner we can fix them. If we don’t find out early enough, that reading gap gets bigger and bigger. We’re using Lexplore to point out struggles at the beginning of the academic year, so we can get students back on track.”
Getting the family involved
As part of Pocklington’s reading for pleasure initiative, they’re encouraging teachers to become ‘reading role models’ around the school, while they also want parents to get involved.
“A lot of parents worry about how best to support their children. We’ve created a reader’s guide which gives them a strategy,” says Aimee.
The school is also encouraging parents to take part in informal drop-ins, where teachers, parents and students can interact. “We’ve created special reading spaces to promote a relaxed environment. We also want students to know that it’s not just schoolbooks they can read – it’s anything that brings them pleasure, like magazines and nonfiction.”
In addition to mini libraries and reading corners, Pocklington also encourages ERIC – enjoy reading in class. “We want to show students that reading is cool. Last year we did a competition on reading in unusual places. The students loved the chance to get creative.”
Pocklington has noted an upward trend in student attainment, and looks forward to taking this even further. “We’ve seen a big push on the reading side of things, and it’s noticeable to anybody who visits the school – in particular, Ofsted,” says Aimee. The staff now want to use these insights to power further reading initiatives, focusing on overcoming problems for struggling students.
From higher student attainment to more time for teachers, Lexplore Analytics has proven a crucial tool for students at Pocklington Junior School. As an institution that’s proud to support every child, the school looks forward to promoting a reading culture for its SEND students and their parents. Aimee says: “We believe reading should be accessible to everyone. By better understanding our students, we can all take our learning further.”
3rd January 2021
Skills: Blogging, Journalism
Date: 28th February 2022