Dubious investments: more stupid Pupil Premium spending (Lexia)

I’ve seen an awful lot of money invested in secondary schools buying licences for Lexia, a computer program that is supposed to assist kids with reading. It claims to be phonics based. Schools desperate to improve reading in their weaker pupils have been buying this computer program as a solution to their ills. Like most stupid things in education, it is seen as a panacea – which hence doesn’t exist.

That’s dubious and any real progress depends on the input that comes along with kids having problems reading. If there’s really good small group teaching of extremely weak readers, I’ve seen enormous progress. This also goes for  pupils new to the country with no English whatsoever. I don’t think this is to do with Lexia. I think it is to do with small group teaching of reading in a productive way.

Sadly, Lexia is seen as the stand alone solution. So I received this email today with permission to publish on the blog:

Here’s a stupid thing i’ve seen recently linked to PP:

School investing £12000 in licences for Lexia, a computer programme that supposedly helps students to improve their reading  / comprehension. Problems:
1. The school’s IT infrastructure is already weak and no one’s checked to see if it will work properly
2. The research for Lexia is thin to say the least. The very useful Interventions for Literacy website http://www.interventionsforliteracy.org.uk/interventions/list-view/lexia/ gives it a grading of ‘useful’, which is actually fairly mediocre;
3. Nearly all subjects in studies have been primary students and it’s being proposed for Y10 students;
4. The school hasn’t actually verified the reading test results to check if the students can’t read or just weren’t trying, i.e. they might need no intervention;
5. Presumably the investment is justified because computers are cheaper than staffing, but lessons will still require four staff to supervise.
Sounds like a lot of money and time and effort to invest, without a lot of groundwork. No doubt there will be an evaluation
Given some SMT’s history of believing in panaceas without evaluation, I am not sure about the “no doubt” part there.
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4 thoughts on “Dubious investments: more stupid Pupil Premium spending (Lexia)

  1. Hmm…in great contrast, the Phonics International annual licence costs £99 for a school and £33 for a parent or tutor.

    Not all singing, all dancing – but sensible, mainly paper-based fit-for-purpose resources and practices shared between teachers and learners.

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