Phil Luke has been “Lexonified” – and now he wants every school-age child on Teesside to have the same experience.
Phil, whose background is in banking and financial services, recently joined rapidly-expanding Teesside-based educational firm Lexonik as a business development consultant and has set about his new role with a missionary zeal.
Having seen the dramatic results their revolutionary literacy teaching programme is having in schools in other parts of the UK and throughout the world, he’s passionate about giving as many local youngsters as possible the same opportunity.
“It’s an amazing system,” he enthuses.
“The results are spectacular and it can help turn schools around. It’s Latin-based and is all about looking at the stem of a word and its prefix and suffix.
“It’s delivered to small groups and rapidly improves literacy, language and comprehension skills and confidence, with reading ages increasing by an average of 27 months after just six hourly sessions over six weeks.
“I’ve seen it in operation at Nunthorpe School. By the end of the six weeks, the children were breaking down words such as ‘photosynthesis’ and ‘perpendicular’ and telling me what every part of the word means.
“Anyone who gets the opportunity to see it in action should do so – it changes the way you think about words and gives you a skill for life.”
Phil adds: “As part of my induction, I was ‘Lexonified’ by Katy Parkinson, who founded the company as Sound Training in 2011 and who developed the system.
“She sat down and showed me what the kids are taught and a couple of hours later I was looking at language in a completely different way.
“I’ve never seen anything like her passion and drive. She’s prepared to travel round the world promoting literacy and the way she delivers the programme makes it fun as well.”
Middlesbrough-born Phil is a fully qualified financial adviser who also runs his own equity release business, Luke For Solutions.
“I’m interested in education because my mam and dad both taught in this area and I always fancied being a teacher myself,” he says.
“I can see how much this helps children and adults as well – it’s being used in Holme House prison and prisons in America. I’m delighted to have an opportunity to get it out there.
“Lexonik is growing all the time because the potential is so huge – the business has brought in a commercial director and a sales manager and we’re now recruiting account managers, so there’s a lot going on.”
The system is currently used by around 700 schools and the firm has ambitious plans to continue reaching new markets.
“It’s already broken into the Middle East and the USA and has just been demonstrated at a conference in Spain,” he says.
But one of Phil’s key challenges is ensuring that children closer to home become part of the Lexonik revolution and benefit from its impressive results.
“There’s a heat-map of the country in the office and very few schools round here are using the system,” he says.
“It’s in a couple of primary schools and Acklam Grange, Nunthorpe School and Carmel College in Darlington, but I’m surprised it isn’t being used more widely here. That needs addressing.
“Literacy is a massive problem everywhere, but in an area like ours, we need kids leaving school with good literacy skills to prepare them for the world of work.
“There are lots of reasons to be optimistic about Teesside’s future but it’s essential that we raise literacy levels.
Lexonik can help do that. And once kids are armed with this knowledge, it will stay with them forever.”