Hawkedale Primary School

One of the key advantages of being a small school is that teachers know the children well and can tailor learning and support to the needs of individual pupils and groups. But this personalised approach becomes increasingly difficult as a school grows and more pupils are welcomed through the gates.

Since opening in 2015 as a single form infant school, Hawkedale Primary has evolved into a primary school attended by 210 pupils and it continues to expand to meet the needs of the local community.

With more children to focus on and support, the school wanted to ensure teachers had access to more information about how their pupils learn. The Lexplore reading assessment programme was introduced to deliver the insight teachers needed to raise achievement across the school as it continued to grow.

Keeping it personal

The senior leadership team at Hawkedale knew that a focus on literacy was key to boosting the learning progress of all pupils across the curriculum.

Assistant headteacher, Wendy Francis-White, explains, “Through our sudden growth, we had noticed that more children were arriving with low vocabulary and there was an increase in pupils struggling to develop the literacy skills they needed.

“Without a strong vocabulary, or comprehension and decoding skills, children can start to feel cut off from an early age, unable to access a textbook or enjoy a story, so addressing this was a key priority.”

The school began testing pupils with Lexplore Analytics eye-tracking technology. Their assessment tracks the way a child’s eyes move when they read two passages of text, one out loud and one in their head. The technology records how long the child’s eyes rest on one word, and how quickly the eyes move forwards and backwards across a series of words.

From this information, Lexplore analytics can help to highlight potential reading issues a child may be struggling with. It can also spot if they may be at risk of specific difficulties such as dyslexia, even when children have developed coping strategies to mask problems over time.

Wendy continues, “Our teachers often instinctively know what kinds of support are most effective at inspiring their pupils and a very good sense of what’s behind the issues they might be experiencing. But the more help we can give them to spot any concerns earlier, the better. This is especially important in a school with a growing cohort.”

Making a difference

Using Lexplore, teachers could get a clear picture of children’s reading ability in minutes and the results helped to inform decisions about what additional support pupils needed to progress.

“One of our pupils had been scoring below average in literacy practice questions for her SAT assessment, which was a real concern,” says Wendy. “Lexplore helped to identify that phonics and reading comprehension were the issue, so her class teacher could focus the intervention accordingly.

“Her parents were brought in to help at home too and the pupil went on to achieve a higher than expected score in her SATs as a result.”

Another child clearly loved reading but tended to choose books that were aimed at much younger children. Both parents and her teacher had concerns that the child’s behaviour might indicate dyslexia.

However, the results from the Lexplore screening showed that in fact the pupil’s reading ability was above average and that while she seemed to enjoy less challenging books, she was perfectly capable of reading a broader choice of material.

Knowing this, her parents and teachers encouraged the child to choose books that she would enjoy, but would also match her reading abilities, which helped to prevent her from potentially coasting.

Next steps

An influx of new pupils can change a school community and bring different issues to light that need to be considered. As Hawkedale expands, the focus is to continue inspiring pupils to achieve all they are capable of, just as effectively as it has always done in the past.

“One way that you know you have a school you can be truly proud of is when it is described by one of your pupils to Ofsted inspectors as ‘like a big family’, says Wendy. “That’s the special learning environment that Lexplore is helping us to continue to create at our school.”

 

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