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Leading from the front – the role of English in developing literacy across the school 20 March 2015 Lesley Daniel Associate inspector
20 March 2015 Aims of session: to place literacy within the context of a secondary inspection to share examples of good practice of what works in secondary schools Leading from the front – the role of English in developing literacy across the school
Removing barriers to literacy In the secondary schools where teachers in all subject departments had received training in teaching literacy and where staff had included an objective for literacy in all the lessons, senior managers noted an improvement in outcomes across all subjects, as well as in English.
From the handbook - during an inspection: Inspecting the teaching of literacy, including reading Inspectors will consider the impact of teaching and outcomes across the range of the school’s provision and will use the evidence they gather to inform the overall evaluation of pupils’ achievement, the quality of teaching, and the impact of leadership and management on raising standards. When making the key judgements, inspectors will give particular attention to the teaching of literacy (including reading) and mathematics.
What judgements does literacy affect? Quality of leadership and management Good and outstanding judgements – The well-thought-out policies ensure that pupils make at least good progress in literacy. Inadequate judgement - Poor literacy is not being tackled urgently and this is impeding pupils’ progress.
What judgements does literacy affect? Observing teaching and learning – When observing and judging teaching, inspectors must be guided by the response and engagement of pupils and evidence of how well they are learning. 190. Inspectors must consider whether: pupils’ responses demonstrate sufficient gains in their knowledge, skills and understanding, including of literacy and mathematics
What judgements does literacy affect? Achievement progress in literacy and mathematics are assessed by drawing on evidence from other subjects in the curriculum, where this is sensible Outstanding Pupils read widely, and often across all subjects to a high standard. Pupils develop and apply a wide range of skills to great effect in reading, writing, communication and mathematics.
What judgements does literacy affect? Overall effectiveness -The school is likely to be inadequate if inspectors judge any of the following to be inadequate: pupils’ progress in literacy Outstanding: There is excellent practice which ensures that all pupils have high levels of literacy appropriate to their age.
Is there a clear policy? How aware are staff and students? How visibly and consistently is it being used? Is there any evidence of impact? Literacy – gathering evidence on inspection
Removing barriers to literacy Inspectors visited schools mainly in areas of high socio- economic disadvantage. These schools had a clear picture of the challenges facing them in raising the levels of literacy for their pupils. They cited: poorly developed speech, including a very limited vocabulary low aspirations in the home and few set routines or clear boundaries for children’s behaviour poor attendance a reluctance by parents and carers to engage with the school limited experience of life beyond the immediate community. While these challenges applied to both primary and secondary schools, the latter reported the last four more frequently.
‘Pupils who were less enthusiastic about the subject and made poorer progress said that it had little to do with their lives or interests outside school.’
Schools should: teach phonics systematically as part of the teaching of reading and ensure that pupils’ progress in developing their phonic knowledge and skills is regularly assessed ensure that governors regularly receive reports which include the progress and attainment in English of particular groups, such as White British boys and pupils known to be eligible for free school meals raise the expectations of staff for pupils from low-attaining groups, especially in Year 7, and use all available assessment information to ascertain their literacy needs and to set them challenging targets; this is particularly important to establish suitable expectations for GCSE English language consider nominating a member of staff to take responsibility for maximising the achievement of learners who are potentially at risk of failing to reach average levels of skills in literacy ensure that all teaching and support staff receive regular training in developments in teaching literacy Removing barriers to literacy
The more effective secondary schools in the survey had put in place a range of support for pupils in need of intensive help with reading and writing. This support included: providing one-to-one reading support for pupils with very low reading ages (defined as a reading age of seven or lower); typically, three hours of support each week ensuring that pupils who were learning English as an additional language received support that focused on their particular needs providing the English department with teaching assistants who had a full-time commitment to it establishing additional reading programmes, sometimes with the help of volunteers introducing lessons on phonics for Year 7 pupils with low reading ages (defined as pupils with a reading age below nine years) establishing a mentoring programme for the more vulnerable pupils to ensure that they attended school and English lessons regularly.
Removing barriers to literacy As a result of monitoring, the most successful secondary schools visited had made incremental changes to meet individuals’ needs more effectively. These changes included the following: increasing the number of lessons of English in Key Stage 3; seven schools ensured daily short periods introducing additional dedicated library lessons or reading time establishing identified literacy time, as distinct from English, to teach core skills, often with students grouped by ability ensuring that all Year 7 students had a reading book and that personal reading took place at specified times, for example, at tutor time developing robust assessment, identifying students’ progress in reading, writing and spelling ensuring that teachers in all faculties included objectives for literacy in their lesson plans.
Removing barriers to literacy The most successful schools emphasised that there was no ‘eureka’ moment, that is to say, specific or unusual practice. Rather, they made what one school described as ‘painstaking adjustments’ to what they did when their monitoring provided evidence of weaknesses and they stuck with what worked.
‘Standards are raised ONLY by changes which are put into direct effect by teachers and pupils in classrooms’ Black and Wiliam, ‘Inside the Black Box
Readability Summer School Key words
Clear whole school approach understood by staff and students – use of assemblies and tutor time Whole staff training – audit/address needs/written into PM Incorporates S&L, writing and reading Visible – displays, books, modelling, competitions Subject audit and tracking of text types, S&L and extended writing opportunities High expectations of teacher’s own presentation – PPs/worksheets/spelling/feedback What makes a difference?
Involving parents Reporting to governors Regular reminders to staff/ termly focus Analysis of impact – student/teacher surveys; tracking of a target group What makes a difference? What else? Good to share, need to know!
Do you have a clear policy? How aware of it are your staff and students? How visibly and consistently is it being used? Do you have any evaluation of impact? What actions can you take to improve this picture? Literacy – what would I find in your school?
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