A Case Study of Texthelp's Read&Write GOLD in advancing students’ independent learning, self-esteem and inclusion at The King's School'

Author: Texthelp Systems Ltd
The King's School, Devon, is an 11-18 comprehensive school with just over 140 staff and 1100 students. Penny Dowling, SEN Literacy Teacher at the School, believes their purchase of Read&Write GOLD literacy support software has been a “resounding success” as the solution has led to improvement in students’ quality of work, their independent learning and self-esteem.
Penny elaborates on this by stating “We chose to purchase a site licence of Read&Write GOLD software after discussions with Texthelp staff at the BETT exhibition in London.  The demonstration of the latest version of the software showed such enhanced features that would provide support to a very wide range of students at secondary level.”

Read&Write GOLD for Schools is Texthelp’s world leading literacy support software designed to assist pupils with dyslexia, literacy difficulties and English as a Second Language.  The software provides pupils with a unique set of tools to assist them with learning in the classroom and at home.  Read&Write GOLD helps pupils to improve their reading skills, enhance the accuracy of their writing and organise research for school projects.

Read&Write GOLD is easy to use and features include: Screen Masking (to tint or mask sections of the window), Texthelp text-to-speech voices, a Translator (which translates selected words into French, Spanish, German or Italian), Spelling, Dictionary & Homophone support, and the software also echoes back Dragon text.

Penny explains “The staff and students who have been using Read&Write GOLD feel that it has been a resounding success!  Such a wide variety of students are able to find features which support and enhance their learning profiles. This would include students who have learning difficulties or those who benefit from the study skills aspects. The vast majority of students have been able to improve the quality of their work and advance their levels of independent learning.  This in turn has a positive impact on their self-esteem.”

Read&Write GOLD installation, training and use

Penny continues “The software is now available across the school’s network and can be accessed by staff and students in any room which has computers.  On purchasing Read&Write GOLD, I attended a full day’s training provided by the Texthelp training team.  This enabled me to write a short and concise version of the Read&Write GOLD training program, which I emailed to every member of staff, highlighting the excellent training videos attached to each feature.  I requested that staff make themselves familiar with the software and encourage their students to use it, when possible, for the production of written work.  I provided training to any student who needed it, for example, for years 7-9 who experienced problems with learning differences, literacy, comprehension, memory, specific learning difficulties, organisation, handwriting, as well as students from years 10-13 who received training on the study skills features of the software.

I also ran a training session for the Learning Support Department to include the SENCo and the team of Teaching Assistants. This enabled them to use Read&Write with other students attending Learning Support sessions for a wide variety of learning needs.

Students have been mostly quick to learn how to access a wide variety of features and select those of most benefit to their personal learning profile.  Some students preferred to be shown how to use features and some preferred to watch the videos, then try using the feature themselves.  Students who have been trained are gradually helping other students in their classes to become aware of the benefits of the software.

Students’ access to Read&Write GOLD is excellent when a lesson is held in a computer suite, Learning Support, 6th Form Centre, Library or teaching room, where a bank of laptops are available with headsets.  However, subjects in which there is a high amount of written work required, such as English, History and Religious Education, do not at present have any word processors available in their teaching rooms, which is currently being discussed.

As Moodle becomes more available, an additional licence for Read&Write will be beneficial so that students can access the software from home when doing their homework.”

Feature support & benefits to students

Penny states “It has been interesting to note that although Read&Write GOLD’s text-to-speech feature most obviously benefits students who experience a variety of literacy difficulties, the ability to listen to their own work for proof reading, plus the Study Skills features and quick access and storage of information from the internet (Fact Finder & Folder) has been welcomed by students with no significant learning difficulties as well.  This makes Read&Write GOLD particularly inclusive.

Regarding the benefits students receive from Read&Write GOLD, I have noted the following information:

Students who have been unable to ‘see’ their spelling errors are now able to ‘hear’ them through the text-to-speech features and those who have been unable to read back their own work, or fluently read text on the internet (not well enough for good comprehension) can now listen.  Comprehension and access to information is vastly improved.  Also proof reading and redrafting becomes easier and more efficient with Read&Write GOLD.  Students have also found it easier to find appropriate websites more quickly by listening to the content, when previously their difficulty with reading slowed down their comprehension.

The talking Spell Checker: once spelling errors have been identified, students can now hear the difference between words which they would not have previously been able to distinguish between visually. This is enhanced by their ability to listen to sample sentences. This is also good practice for listening to good sentence structure.  Also the Sounds Like/homophone feature is really very supportive!  So many students are unable to visually tell the difference between like sounding words and it is excellent to be able to hear a definition and a sample sentence to show the context.  I have also noticed where some students previously had a strong dislike for homophones, many have become interested in how many there are!

The talking Dictionary is very beneficial to those students who find fluent reading difficult.  Listening helps them select a wider and more appropriate variety of vocabulary. They now have more confidence to try new words in their written work.

The Fact Mapper is one hundred per cent loved by every student so far, right through from years 7 to 13, whether they have any learning difficulties or not!  It improves efficient and specific access to information from the internet.  More able students also like the Fact Folder to store information and images for project work and research.

Students who have to collate, organise and group topics of information have found the coloured highlighting and easy ability to collect and cluster ideas excellent, with regards the Study Skills feature.

Students have become more aware of their learning preferences when selecting the most beneficial features to suit their learning profile.  They can personalise their Read&Write GOLD toolbar.  They have also seen that some features will be even more useful when they need to produce more written work and use research and study skills in years 10-13.

Students of all ages have felt an increased confidence in producing their work due to gaining more independence.  Not having to ask for so much help and reassurance for reading, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension, selection of relevant info has improved their self-esteem.  Those who have been specifically trained have also really enjoyed showing other students a new skill!”

Quotes from students and staff on Read&Write GOLD

Some students have made the following comments regarding Read&Write GOLD software: -

“Read&Write GOLD has improved my spelling and my use of punctuation, my writing now makes sense!  I can now ‘hear’ the differences between words when I couldn’t ‘see’ them before.”

“I like the variety of voices and speeds and the range of different icons to help with written work.  The dictionary is great as I can ‘hear’ the definitions. The easy access to the internet in the middle of writing some work is magic!”

“My best friend is now the Read&Write GOLD spellchecker!!  Microsoft ‘Word’ is now only second!”

“Homophones are so much easier now because I can hear them with their definitions and in a proper sentence.”

“I get a better sense of the meaning of words and texts, both mine and internet information.”

Teachers at The King’s School have also made the following comments: -

“Some students have found Read&Write GOLD very supportive for Art research.”

“Several students have been using this software in my lessons.  It has increased the quality of the work they have produced and I feel that it is a very valuable tool.”

“Read&Write GOLD is great!  I use it with my students when we have access to computers.  It is really discreet (hiding away at the top or side of the screen).  Students can use their own headphones and the text-to-speech allows students to maximise hearing their work read aloud.  The ability to open a webpage browser and have this information read back is fantastic!”

“I am pleased to see students appearing more confident when producing written work with Read&Write GOLD.  They feel they have a better ‘toolkit’ of strategies available to them.  They seem to concentrate better on their work and are more prepared to try and correct or improve spelling and vocabulary themselves.”

Penny concludes “I view the Read&Write GOLD software as a key part of a learning and study toolkit.  I would thoroughly recommend it to other schools and colleges.”

For further information on Read&Write GOLD, please contact Elaine on Tel: 028 9442 8105, email or visit website
A Case Study of Texthelp's Read&Write GOLD in advancing students’ independent learning, self-esteem and inclusion at The King's School'
The King's School, Devon, is an 11-18 comprehensive school with just over 140 staff and 1100 students. Penny Dowling, SEN Literacy Teacher at the School, believes their purchase of Read&Write GOLD literacy support software has been a “resounding success” as the solution has led to improvement in students’ quality of work, their independent learning and self-esteem.