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Elton Primary School and Nursery – School Support – Case Study

Prior to accessing the support, we had writing progress and attainment that was consistently well below national; however in the two years of national assessments since the support, we have had an increase in writing attainment and now have progress which is in line with national: something we didn’t think we could ever achieve due to our highly mobile cohort.

About the school:

The school is located between Ellesmere Port and Helsby. One quarter of the school are from our Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community. One quarter are FSM. The school is average deprivation but is less stable than the average school with only 72% of our children having joined their classes before the start of Year 1.

Number of classes: 7

Number on roll: 196

Why The Literacy Company?

Prior to becoming the Headteacher, across the school we had a couple of Literacy Company planning documents that had been picked up from training sessions. However these only covered a few periods of the school year and were part of a patchwork of materials that we were using to meet the national curriculum requirement.

It was clear that we needed a more unified approach across the school. We enjoyed the text based approach of the Literacy Company units and after having visited a local school that were using Pathways to Write successfully we decided to adopt it throughout school right from nursery through to Yr6.

Following an OFSTED in 2019 we were placed into Requires Improvements but inspectors highlighted that they were happy with our English curriculum because Pathways to Write was well sequenced and ensured knowledge was being built on logically throughout the whole school.

One area that was highlighted as needing improvement was reading. Once again we had a patchwork approach of how we were delivering reading. In response to this, we adopted Pathways to Read. This has once again ensured that the objectives are well sequenced and built upon across school. It has ensured that there is consistency across school in how we teach reading – using a mix of whole class and group work. Reading sessions are much more focused now and staff more confident in their delivery.

Reading came out as much stronger in our 2023 OFSTED when we received a Good grade. After praising our phonics teaching, the inspectors also noted that, “Older pupils are developing effective reading habits. They speak enthusiastically about the books they have studied.”

Following on from internal monitoring and external moderation, we identified spelling as being a big barrier for the children. The adoption of Pathways to Spell has ensured consistency in teaching and increased children and staff enthusiasm when teaching spelling.

How has the support impacted on teachers’ understanding of the English curriculum and on consistency and accuracy of teaching across school?

The adoption of all three sets of Pathways has had a massive impact across school. The most obvious way is that we now know that we have a logical sequencing of the skills across the whole school. We know that all staff are using the same approach across school when teaching – focusing on key features, non-negotiables and mastery skills. Working walls and displays all now use the same format focusing on key skills and language.

The units are well mapped out using texts that the staff and children really enjoy. There is a great range of activities within each unit to ensure engagement stays high.

The units are mapped out in such a way that teachers who are new to their year groups feel confident in teaching all the genre features, grammar etc.

The units have helped with assessments –ensuring that when books are marked that the staff are focused in on assessing the key areas. This has improved how we guide the children on next steps while also saving staff time by making marking less laborious. Having access to sample exemplification pieces for each unit has really helped staff feel confident in making their own judgements.

We also benefited from training from the Literacy Company for guided/shared/modelled writing and reading strategies which has complemented our adoption of the Pathways curriculum perfectly.

At the start of our journey with the Pathways curriculum we were fortunate enough to be able to access 1-1 support from the Literacy Company as part of a Local Authority target to improve writing. Through this support, our staff were able to work 1-1 with a Literacy Company consultant to moderate children’s work and to really zone in on next steps and barriers to improvement at both an individual and group level. Staff were guided on how to adapt planning units to specifically target these identified areas. All staff, both ECTs and experienced teachers, found these sessions extremely beneficial. This was supplemented with supportive lesson drop-ins and moderation. The impact was clear – moderation from the Literacy Company team at the end of this support included comments that, “Progress in books is evident. Children are writing with greater confidence and stamina. There is a good application of mastery skills evident in books. There are clear systems in place that all year groups are following, and this is leading to good progress in writing skills. English books demonstrate greater stamina for writing and a good range of writing opportunities to apply skills taught.”

This support in identifying key gaps and adapting planning to address them was especially impactful following the Covid lockdown.

Prior to accessing the support, we had writing progress and attainment that was consistently well below national; however in the two years of national assessments since the support, we have had an increase in writing attainment and now have progress which is in line with national: something we didn’t think we could ever achieve due to our highly mobile cohort. The support and training that our teachers, and importantly our Literacy Subject Leader, received ensured that the good practice and good impact has been embedded and maintained. During the 2021/22 academic year, our school was selected for moderation and our moderator stated that, “The progress that the children have made is evident over the year.”

Another major plus – given the current financial situation for school – is that the cost of purchasing the resources and planning has been so low.

Our attainment and progress data for reading and writing which had previously been significantly below national are now in line with national figures. Prior to adopting Pathways the Ofsted IDSR highlighted reading and writing attainment and progress in both KS1 and KS2 as areas that need investigating. In our most recent IDSR 2023 all areas of English are now inline with national figures and none of these areas are highlighted as areas to investigate any longer.

What would you say to other schools considering school support sessions with The Literacy Company?

The adoption of the Pathways curriculum for all three areas: reading, writing and spelling has had a massive impact on the consistency of teaching across school and in ensuring a logical approach to the building and retention of knowledge.

It is clear that our journey from Requires Improvement to Good owes a great deal to the Pathways work. Both inspections were under the new framework, in which sequencing of work and retention of knowledge is key. Pathways ensured we ticked every box while also delivering a curriculum that the teachers enjoyed teaching and the children enjoyed learning.

All the Pathways curriculum were easy to implement across the whole school.

The detailed planning units, the supporting teaching slides, the PowerPoint presentations, the exemplification pieces etc. have all had a big impact on teacher workload and have all been purchased and implemented at very low cost.