You may be surprised to find that we don’t always work with every school that asks us. Or, to put it another way, we work with schools to find out how we can help – and if we don’t think you need us, we’ll tell you. We follow a collaborative process that is designed to save time and money, while putting in place sound, cost-effective practice.
Here are six reasons why we’ll recommend that you don’t set up Thinking Reading in your school – or at least, not yet:
- You don’t have enough children reading more than three years behind.
Before schools set up Thinking Reading, we work with them to put assessment systems in place that will allow them to match students with the right kinds of interventions. If you have very few students reading three or more years behind, you don’t need the Thinking Reading intervention. Students up to three years behind can be taught successfully in pairs or groups, and we’ll recommend strategies and programmes that you can use to support them.
- Your poor readers are poor comprehenders.
If the assessment process shows that you do have poor readers, but their needs are in comprehension rather than decoding, we’ll recommend classroom strategies and other interventions to meet their needs. Thinking Reading is a comprehensive programme that encompasses decoding (phonics), morphology, syntax, vocabulary, spelling, written expression, handwriting, and comprehension. If students only need the comprehension element, this can be delivered through a small group, comprehension-only programme.
- You need to develop a more coherent whole-school literacy strategy.
The first step of our process is a consultation with school leaders triangulating policy, practices and culture. The aim of this exercise is to pull together all the work that is going on into an efficient, comprehensive approach so that every student’s literacy needs are identified and supported. We provide the school with a detailed written report with specific, practical recommendations. We sometimes pause the process at this point, until the school is ready for the next step.
- You don’t have the data to know what sort of intervention you need.
Sometimes schools have no system for assessing the literacy profile of their cohorts; in other schools, there is a lot of assessment, but it doesn’t go very deep. Until such systems are in place, there is no point in setting up the Thinking Reading intervention, so we work with schools to provide them with the assessment training and advice that they need.
- You don’t have the staffing available.
Sometimes schools are not in a position to staff Thinking Reading, and if this is the case we will recommend that the school waits until they have more hours available. The consultation process often exposes areas from which staffing might be usefully redirected to achieve higher impact, and schools are sometimes surprised by how much time is being invested in activities that can demonstrate little, if any, impact. This alone can make the consultation a worthwhile exercise – and can free up the staffing that you need.
- You don’t have the resources (yet).
School leaders often feel limited by their current commitments, and may well need time to redeploy resources more productively. This is important, because school leaders need to take a whole-school, strategic approach – a ‘bolt-on’ approach to establishing an intervention will almost certainly fail. Rather than put additional pressure on budgets, we work with schools to consider how existing resources might be usefully redeployed in the future. A long-term view is far more productive for student outcomes than ‘quick wins’.
In short, we won’t recommend that you set up Thinking Reading unless a) you need it, and b) you are ready. Regardless of whether you do set up Thinking Reading or not, we will show you how to save money that you can invest in the most effective forms of support for your students’ needs.
We’ve been working hard over the last few months to enable schools to access our training, and deliver our programme remotely. If you are a school leader worried about the impact of school closures on your most vulnerable students, or you are just looking for a more effective plan for the coming year, get in touch – we’ll be happy to talk.
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