Research School Network: Literacy strategies: taking a fresh look How can we refine existing literacy approaches?

Literacy strategies: taking a fresh look

How can we refine existing literacy approaches?

by Huntington Research School
on the

Reading features on three-quarters of school Pupil Premium strategies, with writing and spoken language on nearly 50%. This is hardly a surprise, given how important literacy skills are to the academic and life outcomes for pupils. Schools rightly, and regularly, invest significant time and money into supporting children in these key areas. But the persistent presence of literacy on Pupil Premium strategies and other school planning documents perhaps also speaks towards a tendency to move onto the next aspect of literacy without securing the former. 

In our collective haste to do better for pupils, new ideas are often introduced with too little consideration for how the changes will be managed and what steps are needed to maximise the chances of success’

EEF Implementation Guidance

It feels unlikely that any reader of these words has not experienced a new approach at a school they have worked at that did not flounder somewhat. There are a myriad of reasons why such things happen: after all, even a well thought out plan meets all sorts of unseen obstacles the minute it hits the reality of day-to-day school life. However, the stages of the implementation cycle are always helpful when helping us frame school planning, even on an issue as well-trod as literacy. 

Implementation cycle HRS

One thing that always strikes me in the Guidance Report is the sheer amount of space given over to the explore and prepare phases, a nudge towards the amount of time required for these important steps. When we did’ vocabulary at Huntington secondary school 7 years ago the guidance report was not yet published. Here are some things I wish, with hindsight, I had undertaken as part of the implementation:

- More time set aside for meeting with subject leaders before the whole staff training started. I think we would have been able to take a more disciplinary approach this way (recommendation 1, secondary literacy guidance report… although that guidance report also didn’t exist yet!)

- Consider a wider range of evaluation tools rather than just a sample of student NGRT scores at the beginning and end of the year and a department audit. It would have been good to build a picture at different points through the year of the impact of the approach on staff and students

- More dedicated time for departments to make resources that would support the delivery of new vocabulary in lessons

- A greater sense of how year 2’ could have been used to support departments in bespoke ways to refine their approach

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as the saying goes, and indeed it is because these points of learning, alongside useful resources like the implementation guidance report mean we can better plan future literacy initiatives. Because there will always be something important to tackle with literacy as it remains such a vital strand to supporting students at all phases.

If you would like dedicated time to take a fresh look at your school literacy strategies, please join us for our Literacy training day on March 5th. Each school that attends will also be entitled to up-to 2 hours of follow-up support online to continue the relevant planning, training and resource creation.

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