Many schools use non teaching staff to help pupils with their reading, but they need the right tools, training and ongoing support to make a significant impact. The Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF) has created this list for improving the use of learning support assistants. As they point out, the staff are already in the school and in the budget, so the next decision is to find an evidence based literacy intervention which is both affordable and suitable for non teaching staff to deliver.
When it became clear that budget cuts were only going to get worse, I filmed the full TRT training, put it online and reduced the price by half. That means, for £160 per person, you'll have a trained and equipped (no extra resources to purchase) staff member. To see what non-professionals can accomplish, see our external assessment by Professor Greg Brooks. The impressive results came from the work of youth workers and community volunteers.
Here's a checklist for getting the best results from support staff using That Reading Thing.
1. Please ask if they have any dyslexia in their own education background. Some of the best support staff I know are so good because of the empathy they bring to the job. However, they might struggle with delivering That Reading Thing, so have them watch the first topic of the training video, then ask again if it's something they feel they can take on. Video link is at the bottom of the page.
2. Make sure they have time and space to work one-to-one. This isn't negotiable if you want the quick results that make That Reading Thing so appropriate for older strugglers. However, once a student has their TRT strategies firmly in place and is reading aloud without anxiety - not perfectly, but without fear of making mistakes - they might be able to work through the remaining advanced levels in a small group. Feeling safe from embarrassment is important, so make sure they all understand how to be supportive of one another. I'd try to keep lessons one-to-one until around level 18-20. (8 - 12 hours)
3. Have a TRT "What's next?" strategy. Support staff aren't teaching staff. They'll need direction and perhaps more training on what to do with a student who is reading better and getting through the TRT levels. That Reading Thing isn't an end in itself; it's a launch pad into more reading and writing. If they need more work on spelling, consider That Spelling Thing. Even better, book a 3-hour That Spelling Thing training for the whole staff. It will support students who need TRT but it will also improve spelling amongst those students who are good readers but inconsistent spellers. Check out TST whole staff training here.
4. Training options:
- Experienced support assistants with excellent literacy skills can do the online training themselves. I'd suggest training two so they can train together during school time.
- The more supportive route is to train one or two teachers or HLTAs who can use TRT for a few lessons before the LSAs do the training.
5. Peer Tutors. You can also train up senior students to work with younger ones. This takes a lot of commitment on the part of staff for training, support and scheduling. Get in touch if you want to talk about making this work.