Fast-growing Teesside business Sound Training is spreading its wings after its unique teaching programme made its debut in Wales just days after its founder director introduced it to the US market in San Francisco.
Middlesbrough-based Sound Training won praise from Welsh National Assembly member Alun Davies after the unique literacy programme made a dramatic impact on the reading ages of pupils at Brynmawr Foundation School in Blaenau-Gwent.
And the success followed on just days after the scheme was hailed a success on its transatlantic introduction in San Francisco.
Currently being used in more than 300 schools across England, Sound Training boosts literacy levels of mainstream pupils, with remarkable results after only six hours of instruction.
Despite its success across England, Brynmawr was the first Welsh school to open its doors to the project – but Sound Training leaders are confident many more will now follow.
Determined to share their enthusiasm for the programme, the Brynmawr leadership team has welcomed visitors from across Wales to observe a lesson and meet pupils who describe their participation as “life changing”.
A total of 40 pupils increased their reading ages by an impressive average of two-and-a-half years after just six one-hour Sound Training sessions.
After visiting the secondary school to see Sound Training in action, Blaenau-Gwent MP Mr Davies said: “I was delighted to witness at first hand the positive impact the Sound Training programme has had for pupils at Brynmawr School.
“The pupil’s achievements are outstanding. The results have clearly demonstrated how taking this fast, focused and fun approach to learning can make a real difference to pupils, which undoubtedly improves their lifelong skills in literacy.”
Sound Training’s founder director Katy Parkinson looks on as Blaenau Gwent MP Alun Davies takes part in a Sound Training session with Brynmawr Foundation School pupils (from left) Morgan Foote, Lauri Wall and Kaci Bailey and teacher Lucy Griffiths.
Brynmawr assistant headteacher Robert Bradley added: “We are very excited about the impact Sound Training will have on the life chances and academic outcomes of our pupils.
“So much progress is made in a single lesson that we are completely convinced that Sound Training is a large part of the way forward for the development of literacy in our school.
“We’ll be using Sound Training with all year groups, especially vulnerable pupils who are in danger of not reaching their potential. We’re aiming to put 200 pupils through Sound Training by July.”
With representatives of 20 primary and secondary schools paying Brynmawr a visit along with Mr Davies, Sound Training is set to spread its wings further into Wales – but the USA also remains firmly in sight.
During a week-long visit supported by funding from UKTI, Sound Training founder director Katy Parkinson trained teachers at San Francisco’s Leadership High School so they could introduce the award-winning scheme to pupils.
It is hoped the pilot programme will result in a States-side breakthrough for Sound Training, which was founded on successes Katy achieved with students (aged 10-18) when she was employed by Middlesbrough Council.
Accompanied by her daughter Lisa, a qualified teacher who works for Sound Training, Katy provided the team at San Francisco’s Leadership High School with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to introduce the scheme to pupils there.
Katy and Lisa also held a literacy workshop and a demonstration lesson for US education professionals.
Launched in 2011, Sound Training now employs 11 full-time staff and 80 teachers across England and Wales.
The US pilot followed an initial visit to Denver by CEO Claire Preston in September 2013, which generated transatlantic interest in the scheme, followed by a fact-finding trip to San Francisco by Katy last November.
Claire said: “This has been an amazing 18 months for Sound Training – and quite an incredible couple of weeks.
“We are delighted and overwhelmed with the way Brynmawr staff have embraced Sound Training and believe that the amazing success they and many other schools are now openly sharing will lead to further growth for us as a company.”