DigiSmart is a literacy catch-up initiative that targets Year 5 children (aged 9-10) who are at risk of failing to achieve national standards in English at the end of primary school. Every year the vast majority of DigiSmart children do catch up with their classmates. Many, like Connor, even start moving ahead of them. Evidence of their success brings added confidence, extra motivation and a better attitude, enabling DigiSmart to transform struggling under-achievers into successful, confident learners.

The grant recipient

Photo-SHINE at work

LIFT for Learning is a dynamic charitable organisation that seeks to reach, inspire and support disadvantaged youngsters who need extra help to realise their potential.

In the current year, DigiSmart is running in 500 schools across England and Wales. LIFT for Learning plans to expand this to 1000 schools and 20,000 children by 2015.

the DigiSmart programme

What it aims to do

  • develop digital and traditional literacy skills and raise achievement levels
  • transform disengaged pupils into motivated and resilient learners

How it works

DigiSmart is a structured programme that deploys technology to engage and motivate children, alongside more traditional paper-based resources.

LIFT for Learning works closely with schools to identify children who are, for various reasons, struggling to keep up with their peers but who have the potential to achieve success.

DigiSmart sessions are run once weekly across an academic year, either during school hours or after school. They are teacher-led and delivered within a small-group model, with 12 x Year 5 children and a minimum tutor-to-pupil ratio of 1 to 6.

Schools host the sessions and provide the teaching staff. LIFT for Learning provides the programme content, training for teachers and ongoing support.

Latest results

Based on a large sample of Year 5 pupils:

  • DigiSmart's results are consistently excellent - the vast majority of children get back on track so that they are achieving in line with national expectations
  • Between 2002 and 2013 all DigiSmart children made progress in their reading, with 82% improving by 2 or more National Curriculum sub-levels
  • Very significantly, over the same 12-year period, nearly 50% of DigiSmart children improved their reading by 3 or more sub-levels. This is more than children are expected to achieve in a single academic year.

You can read more about DigiSmart and its impact on the ground in SHINE's 2011 Supporters' Magazine (page 8). Download Now

The funding and replication

SHINE made a grant for LIFT for Learning to create the first three DigiSmart groups in south-west London in 2001. Since then SHINE has made further grants for programme development, set up, delivery and expansion costs. Additional funding is provided by other trusts and foundations.

Funding: 1,684,406 to LIFT, over 13 years (2001-14)

Visit the Digismart website

Click here to Support SHINE

"It's like a gift this project - only 5% of pupils have computer access at home so it's giving them an opportunity they would not otherwise have."

Headteacher, The Alton School

"My daughter does nothing but talk about what she does during the club... I can't wait until it's my turn to have a go!"

Parent of a DigiSmart child

"I have learnt a great deal myself about the internet. Even as a regular user, there were things I did not know."

Headteacher, St.Barnabas & St. Philip's school

"DigiSmart has been fantastic for these children. They have gained grades we didn't think they would get and DigiSmart played a really big part in that."

DigiSmart Headteacher, Manchester

"When I took over as head teacher of a second school down the road I asked for DigiSmart to be there as well."

Head Teacher

"DigiSmart helps me improve in my learning, it helped me with my SATs from Level 3 to Level 4 and it helped my confidence... it teaches you how to learn, it teaches you how to listen."

Digismart Student

"You're actually learning loads of different things but you don't really notice it because it's that fun."

Digismart Student