Headsprout Early Reading in Special Schools (HERiSS)

Headsprout Early Reading focuses on building fluency in essential early reading skills (such as decoding and blending) through providing explicit phonics instruction and giving children lots of opportunities to practice, until skills become fluent.

3 times a week, pupils work through activities in a computer programme which adapts instruction in response to their answers. There are 80 lessons and, depending on individual children and their needs, sessions typically take between 10 and 30 minutes.

Additional one-to-one fluency exercises are also delivered to some pupils in addition to the computer-based instruction.

Bangor University will conduct an initial day of training with 3 staff per school.

Ongoing implementation support will be provided by the Bangor team via a combination of school visits and telephone support.

An implementation support manual for using HER with students with SEND will also be provided to further support high quality implement implementation.

Participating schools will be randomly selected either to deliver Headsprout with up to 15 pupils, or to carry on with their usual literacy activities. The reading skills of all participating pupils will be measured before and after the intervention.

Do you teach children in Key Stage 1 or 2 in a special school?

Is your school based in the West Midlands or North West of England?

If so, you could take part in the HERiSS project!

If you are interested in learning more about participating in this project, please either sign up via the online form below, or contact the delivery team directly.

Sign up for more information here

Contact us: Emily Roberts-Tyler ( e.j.tyler@bangor.ac.uk / 01248 383962)

Follow us on twitter: @HERiSSproject

Bangor University are the delivery team for the HERiSS project, and will be responsible for recruiting schools to participate in the study, as well as providing the training and ongoing implementation support to the schools who deliver Headsprout during the study period.

CEDAR, Warwick University have been appointed by EEF as the independent evaluators for the project, and will be responsible for conducting reading assessments and analysing the trial data.

Dr Emily Roberts-Tyler - delivery team lead - Emily has 10 years' experience conducting applied educational research and has published research evaluating Headsprout Early Reading (HER) across diverse educational settings, including special schools. She has a wealth of experience of working closely with schools to help support high quality implementation of educational interventions.

Advisory group: Professor Carl Hughes (Bangor University), Dr Corinna Grindle (independent consultant), & Dr Claire McDowell (Ulster University)

Professor Hughes is the Head of the School of Education and Human Development, and the Director of the Collaborative Institute for Education, Research, Evidence and Impact at Bangor University. He has considerable experience and expertise in evaluating evidence-based educational strategies in mainstream and special education.

Dr Grindle and Dr McDowell have around 50 years' combined experience as practitioners and researchers in education and developmental disabilities. They have been involved in research evaluating HER and other literacy programmes across a range of settings and learners.

During the trial year, we will also have some implementation support officers to work directly with schools allocated to deliver Headsprout.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities:

Grindle et al., (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bin.1364

Tyler, E. J., Hughes, J. C., Williams, B. M., Wilson, M. M., Beverley, M., & Hastings, R. P. (2015b). Teaching early reading skills to children with Intellectual Disabilities using computer-delivered instruction: A pilot study. Journal of International Special Needs Education   http://dx.doi.org/10.9782/2159-4341-18.1.1

Roberts-Tyler, E. J., Hughes, J. C., Hastings, R. P. (2019). Evaluating a computer‐based reading programme with children with Intellectual Disabilities: feasibility and pilot research. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12458

Grindle, C., Tyler, E., Murray, C., Hastings, R. P., & Lovell, M. (2019). Parent-mediated online reading intervention for children with Down Syndrome. Support for learning, 34, 2, 211-230

Children in mainstream schools:

Tyler, E. J., Hughes, J. C., Beverley, M., & Hastings, R. P. Improving early reading skills for beginning readers using an online programme as supplementary instruction. European Journal of Psychology of Education (2015b) http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10212-014-0240-7

Watkins, R., Hulson-Jones, A. L., Tyler, E. J., Beverley, M., Hughes, J. C., & Hastings, R. P. (2016). Evaluation of an online reading programme to improve pupils' reading skills in primary schools: Outcomes from two implementation studies. Wales Journal of Education.

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