Resource Review: Tutoring with the Lightning Squad

Tutoring with the Lightning Squad

At a glance

  • An evidence-based literacy programme which improves reading skills for pupils in Years 1-5
  • Approved for use with the National Tutoring Programme
  • A blended approach using face-to-face tutoring and structured online learning
  • Daily 30-minute tutoring sessions for 6 weeks and 15 hours’ tutoring per pupil
  • Designed and structured to improve reading skills, fluency, comprehension, spelling and phonics
  • Tracking and reporting to monitor the impact of the tutoring on pupils’ reading skills and development

Post-pandemic there is plenty of catching-up to do and especially in reading among vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Educational research shows the most effective solution for struggling readers is tutoring, either 1-to-1 or in small groups.

One way to address this is via a highly motivating, peer-supported, web-based, interactive multimedia tutoring programme.

Tutoring with the Lightning Squad (TwLS) is a small group, web-based reading programme for struggling readers by the Fischer Family Trust (FFT).

FFT Tutoring with the Lightning Squad - FFT

The aim of TwLS is to improve phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, word blending, spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension through interactive, partner-supported game-like cooperative activities.

What makes this reading offer high calibre is that it blends face-to-face tutoring with an engaging online platform.

This involves small groups of pupils working through 65 specially written and illustrated stories with a literacy intervention tutor to improve their reading skills.

The way this works is that the National Tutoring Programme provides subsidised high-quality tutoring from an approved list of Tuition Partners. FFT recruit the tutor (an experienced Teach Assistant or Qualified Teacher) and 70% of the tutoring cost is subsidised by the National Tutoring Programme with schools paying the remaining 30%.

Pupils work with a tutor with daily half-hour sessions for 6 weeks to catch-up their reading skills. The tutor works with 20 to 30 pupils, delivering 10 tutoring sessions each day for groups of 2 or 3 pupils for half an hour at a time.

After the 6 weeks, the tutor, will train your own Teaching Assistants to continue with the programme for another 10 weeks.

FFT Tutoring with the Lightning Squad

At the beginning of the programme, pupils take a short online assessment and this helps decide which groups of pupils should work together and where they start on the programme. When up and running, regular tutor checks are built-in so that pupils are moved on when they are ready and have attained story-level mastery.

Assessment and reliable feedback are crucial so it’s good to know that TwLS keeps a close eye on reading attainment progress through its tracking and reporting feature. Its individual online reports include new words learnt, reading age, reading fluency and a measure of reading progress. A brilliant tutor dashboard makes sure no one slips under the radar.

The online activities are bright, breezy, highly engaging and very easy to use and navigate. Pupils read progressively challenging stories and then engage in story-related activities with a partner taking turns as the player/reader and coach.  These are very interactive and presented as a game in order to grab and keep attention.

Lightning Squad Tutoring Home Link on Vimeo

Reading related rewards are given to pupils when they have passed their Tutor check and pupils earn points throughout the activities and cash them in for prize games and videos.

Families are empowered by being given access to an engaging series of online videos that reinforce the material presented to students during their tutoring sessions and these also let students share and show off what they are learning in school.

In your COVID-19 recovery plan there is a definite need to have available effective programmes that can be used with tutors, teaching assistants and small groups to reach large numbers of students at an affordable cost.

This technology-assisted tutoring model is certainly the best pedigree and has the best evidence base for promoting reading growth.

The verdict

  • A comprehensive, evidence-based and highly cost-effective tutoring programme
  • Boosts reading attainment and helps pupils make fast learning gains
  • High impact on reading fluency and pupils’ comprehension skills
  • Strong evidence of effectiveness at producing results and improving outcomes
  • Engaging, effective and reliable
  • Sophisticated assessments to analyse progress and errors and prescribe next steps
  • Can be used remotely to help pupils who are learning from home

Upgrade if…..

You are looking for a compensatory literacy intervention using a blended approach to teaching reading with a proven track record for improving skills and creating confident and capable readers.

Find out more here. 

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