Direct Instruction & Lexia

What is Direct Instruction (DI)?

  • A small group mathematics or reading intervention (with a maximum group size of 12)
  • A teaching method designed by Siegfried Engelmann proven after 50 years of extensive research
  • A method that focuses on explicit demonstration and practice (research has found this to be particularly helpful for pupils who are disadvantaged or who have little confidence)
  • Has been proven to accelerate academic progress and improve behaviour
  • Emphasises the retrieval of previously learnt skills (ensures mastery of earlier topics and concepts through repetition)
  • Pupils can be assigned to either DI mathematics or DI reading intervention. Students may have intervention for both

How do teachers utilise the Direct Instruction model?

  • Teach from a script that allows them to focus on their interaction with their pupils
  • Focus on questioning ensuring every pupil participates
  • Include regular opportunities for testing
  • Teach to the pace of learning. Pupils must be secure in a skill before moving on to the next exercise – meaning no pupil is left behind
  • Create a learning environment which is praise and reward driven

How are pupils identified for Direct Instruction?

  • For DI Mathematics, all pupils complete a placement test on entry to the Academy (and termly moving forwards)
  • For DI Reading, all pupils complete a NGRT reading test on entry to the Academy (and termly moving forwards). Those identified to be reading significantly below their chronological age would then complete a DI Reading placement test
  • The individually administered placement test measures each pupil’s reading accuracy and oral reading rate. Placement takes into account a pupil’s ability to decode words in sentences and stories
  • Dependent on the results of the DI placement tests, pupils are assigned to the appropriate intervention programme in DI reading and / or mathematics

Why does it work?

The structure of the lessons addresses skill deficiencies directly but positively, in a manner that provides the type of practice pupils need to relearn fundamental strategies and to learn new skills. The teaching is designed so that it does not overwhelm pupils with material or rules that result in a high rate of errors.

The Results

Salford City Academy are passionate advocates for DI. The close-knit nature of the groups, who are of similar ability levels, has meant that outstanding comradery, teamwork and progress has been demonstrated. DI is tracked, assessed & monitored through a combination of daily tracking, mastery tests & termly assessment.

In 2020/21, our Year 7 DI reading cohort made an average 20 months progress in their reading ages (and improved their mean Standardised Age Score by 6 SAS points.) Our Year 8 DI reading cohort have made an average 22 months progress in their reading ages (and improved their mean Standardised Age Score by 8 SAS points).

In 2020/21, our Year 7 DI Numeracy cohort made an average 10 months progress in their numeracy ages. Our Year 8 DI Numeracy cohort have made an average 9 months progress in their numeracy ages.

Case Study

Anna participated in Direct Instruction in both reading and mathematics throughout Year 8. She admitted to lacking confidence in reading; she would hide away behind other students. She struggled to read a sentence with simple words and, from a numeracy perspective, demonstrated a lack of fluency with basic calculation. Her reading difficulties had a knock-on effect on her mathematics skills as it meant she was unable to comprehend worded mathematics problems.

After completing Year 8, Anna’s self-confidence and self-esteem had risen, and she was happy to volunteer to answer questions in class - something she had not done before. She smiled more and it became evident she enjoyed learning. Her teachers noted that Anna was voluntarily going above and beyond in what was asked of her in terms of her reading.

When Anna was asked about her experiences with DI, she said, “I have really enjoyed DI. It has helped me a lot,” she said, “once I started it, I became a lot more confident with reading out loud.”!

Mrs Dawson reflected on her experiences teaching DI Reading, she said, “It has been a real pleasure to see my pupils grow in confidence in reading aloud, fluency and accuracy. I am amazed by the fantastic results and improvements in pupils’ reading ages.”

Mrs Stanistreet also shared her thoughts about teaching DI Maths,“I’m passionate about teaching pupils under the radar – the ones who get missed – DI gives children the opportunity to develop skills required in later life, helping them with applying for jobs and they can deal with money and look after their finances, so this really is a great programme.”


What is Lexia?

Lexia is one of the most rigorously researched reading programmes in the world and will help your child to develop critical reading and language skills through individualised, motivating learning paths via an online platform.  Lexia provides a balanced approach to reading covering six areas: phonological awareness, phonics, structural awareness, automaticity, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Lexia begins with an assessment to place students at the appropriate starting point on the programme and the software then tracks pupils’ progress as they work independently, automatically providing extra practice on areas of difficulty where needed.

Who is it for?

Lexia is designed for students of all ages who would benefit from additional support with reading. We use the ‘National Group Reading Test’ to test every student’s Reading Age and Standard Age Score. At the Academy, using these results, we target students who are reading significantly below their chronological age. Once a student’s Reading Age has improved to a level where they can access our Secondary Curriculum, they will graduate from the Lexia programme.

Why do we love Lexia at Salford City Academy?

We love it because we know it works! We believe the combination of effective, teacher-led instruction combined with an interactive, user-centric experience, supports the varying cognitive abilities of all students and enables them to make excellent progress in their reading abilities and ages.

“Lexia helped me make a lot of progress through the last year and it’s also fun.” Owen Glascoe, Year 7

“I enjoy Lexia and it helps with my learning.” Demi-Leigh Murray, Year 7

United Learning comprises: United Learning Ltd (Registered in England No: 00018582. Charity No. 313999) UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee. Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB.

Financial Accountability and Freedom of Information
Website Terms, Cookies and Privacy

United Learning