New technique is boosting students’ reading skills

Year 7 pupils and Literacy lead teacher Karen Foreman take part in a Sound Training session.

Year 7 pupils and Literacy lead teacher Karen Foreman take part in a Sound Training session.

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A new teaching technique to boost pupils’ reading skills is being trialled at a North Shields school.

Norham High School is using the Sound Training method, developed by Middlesbrough-based teaching expert Katy Parkinson, and is showing impressive early results.

The Sound Training technique equips pupils with critical language decoding skills, which once mastered, accelerates reading performance and adds months or even years onto their reading age.

The system teaches pupils how to read and understand new words by firstly teaching the meanings of commonly used prefix, suffix, stem and root components of words.

Pupils are expected to achieve an average of 27 months of reading age progress but Year 11 pupils achieved 46 months while Year 7 students achieved 90 months of progress.

Executive headteacher David Baldwin said: “We were determined to do all we could to help boost the abilities and exam chances of our Year 11 students.

“Training has been pitched at a level appropriate to each pupil, so some have received higher level training to give them a real edge, whilst others have had a package to bring them at least up to or beyond their expected abilit.

“We looked at the interventions that were out there and Sound Training really stood out for us.

“We were told to expect an average of 27 weeks reading gain in six weeks, but the progress we’ve seen with our pupils have just blown us away.”

“It’s really accelerated their learning and we can’t wait to see the impact it has on GCSE exam results in the summer.”

Mr Baldwin added: “We’ve also trialled the intervention with a small set of Year 7 pupils and the results have been amazing, with an average reading age improvement of 99 months, meaning some of our 11-year-olds have the reading age of an 18 year old. It’s just astounding, really.

“Because of the success, we plan to roll Sound Training out across the whole school as soon as we can.”

Pupils undergo Sound Training for an intensive six-week period, for one hour per week in small groups of just four pupils.

The training uses fast, focused and fun multi-sensory teaching methods to ensure students are fully engaged in active learning, including cue cards and repetition.

Katy Parkinson, founder of Sound Training, said: “We’ve been delighted by the level of success seen at Norham High School.

“The school staff who’ve been involved in mastering the method themselves then delivering it to their pupils have really embraced the technique wholeheartedly and with huge enthusiasm.

“We can see that the staff at Norham have high aspirations for their pupils and really want them to do well. Their professionalism and enthusiasm has clearly had an impact on pupils, which is demonstrated by the fantastic results achieved.”

“We believe that all students need to be taught how vocabulary systems work so that they can improve and build upon their knowledge. Students also need to take responsibility and ownership of that building - we cannot do it for them. We cannot teach them a definition for every word they come across.”

To find out more about Sound Training, visit www.soundtraining.co.uk

For the latest news from Norham High School, visit www.norhamhigh.com