Two of Teesside’s foremost education organisations have launched a collaborative project to raise the literacy levels of local students.
Middlesbrough College has agreed an innovative partnership with Sound Training that has resulted in the college now having eight specialist teachers trained and licensed to deliver a ground-breaking teaching programme throughout the college.
Middlesbrough-based Sound Training’s fast-growing teaching programme delivers a dramatic impact on the literacy levels of students of all ages and abilities in just six hour-long sessions.
While Sound Training has established working partnerships with more than 300 primary and secondary schools across the UK, Middlesbrough College is the first solely post-16 provider to license the ground-breaking teaching programme.
To celebrate the launch of the new partnership, 450 of the college’s teaching and leadership staff attended a Sound Training live demonstration and workshop.
Katy Parkinson, founder director of a company that now employs 100 staff across the country including 20 on Teesside, led an on-stage demonstration of a typical Sound Training lesson – with four volunteer teaching professionals taking on the roles of students.
Led by Katy and chief executive Claire Preston together with a team of lead trainers, the Sound Training demonstration opened the annual Teaching and Learning Festival for the college’s leadership and teaching staff.
Following the demonstration, all college teaching staff participated in workshops that focused on morphology – the structure of words – and etymology – the origins of words.
Middlesbrough College principal and chief executive Zoe Lewis said: “The feedback from staff has been wholly positive. From my point of view, I think it represented one of the best, if not the best, whole staff training events we’ve ever done.
“You could see and feel from the body language and engagement levels that people were genuinely interested in the session.”
On the new collaboration, she added: “We already work with Sound Training to raise the literacy levels of our 14-16 year-old students and have seen dramatic results, so we are keen and excited to roll this out to our post-16 students this year.”
Sound Training chief executive Claire Preston said: “Although we work in partnership with hundreds of schools, some of which deliver to sixth form students, this is our first license with solely post-16 provider.
“We were asked to share with the college’s wider teaching staff some of the methodology that forms the basis to Sound Training.
“The aim was to raise awareness of common issues within any group of learners and simple ways that teachers can enhance learning in any subject – whether that be engineering, hairdressing or sports science – using Sound Training methodology.
“The demonstration was incredibly well received by the college staff.
“We hope our work with the college will demonstrate how a consistent collaborative approach to literacy across the curriculum can have a significant impact on the outcomes for learners.
“Having successfully launched this partnership with our neighbours at Middlesbrough College, our plan is to replicate this 16+ adult learning model around the country.”
From its base in Middlesbrough’s Boho Four Gibson House, Sound Training has now delivered sessions to more than 15,000 students across the country, including a number of North-East primary and secondary schools.
The teaching programme made its breakthrough into the Welsh education system earlier this year, whilst also making its Stateside debut in San Francisco, with further US interest in New Orleans.
An independent study conducted by Northumbria University also revealed that the teaching programme improves the reading age of secondary school pupils by an average of 27 months.
• Pictured (above: Education innovators: Zoe Lewis of Middlesbrough College (centre) with Sound Training’s Claire Preston (left) and Katy Parkinson mark the launch of the new literacy collaboration.