‹ News / Book Reviews

Pathways Literacy – The Journey

Mar 26th 2021

It was a blazing hot day in July 2018 and 86 teachers were packed into Horn’s Mill Primary School’s hall, giving up their Thursday afternoon to find out about The Literacy Company’s brand-new writing programme – Pathways to Write.

At this point, only a handful of units were written; we were asking schools who knew us to take a gamble and come with us on an exciting journey. Luckily, schools who had known us for many years from our training courses and in school support were eager to sign up and help us get this new venture off the ground. This first meeting resulted in 18 initial sales – we were delighted.

In under three years, the journey we have been on with Pathways to Write has been incredible. From a seed of an idea to a fully formed award-winning writing programme with over 200 schools across the country buying in to our vision: it has surpassed our wildest dreams. The positivity and support of those first cohorts of schools led us to develop further products under the umbrella of Pathways Literacy.

Planning for Pathways to Read started in September 2019 and was due to be launched to a sell-out crowd of over 200 teachers and school leaders in April 2020. But that day never came. Plans across the country were put on hold and so were ours. Our vastly scaled down launch was our first tentative steps into the world of the webinar.

To anyone who came, it probably looked like we’d been presenting webinars all our lives but what no-one else saw was the hours of preparation and rehearsal that when into it. (The repeated cries of, “I can’t click the PowerPoint!” or “You’re muted we can’t hear you!” still haunt our dreams on a regular basis.) Regardless of global pandemics, Pathways to Read was a joy to write and once again we were overwhelmed by the positivity we received from schools and less than a year into this programme, over 100 schools have shown their support for our amazing team and brought our reading programme to their children.

Whilst others might have felt that this was a good place to stop, a writing intervention programme had been a long-standing discussion, almost since the inception of Pathways to Write, but we had never had the time to put into developing it properly. However, during the coronavirus crisis our hearts went out to every teacher across the land – we’ve been in your shoes and know how devastating it must have been to see the impact of the pandemic on the children in your schools. You could see their English skills ebbing away and so many teachers we spoke to were at a loss of where to start in picking up the pieces both emotionally as well as academically. Our passion to engage pupils in important issues gave rise to our catch-up units and led to the development of Pathways to Progress. Trying to meet and plan a product from scratch while having to work from home, hasn’t been easy and perhaps Microsoft Teams deserves a cut of the credit. Despite this, we are so proud of the programme we have created and feedback from schools has been so positive already.

Over the next year, alongside some truly visionary partners in schools we got involved in writing a set of units linked to texts on refugees, from Beegu to Malala’s Magic Pencil, and a further set on environmental issues, tackling issues like pollution, climate change, coral reef destruction and looking after our local environments. This gave us the opportunity to support schools in developing inspirational curriculum-based projects with a sharp focus on developing English at its core. It invoked our passion as a team for addressing global issues and many of the team would certainly cite these as some of our favourite units that we have written for Pathways to Write.

Our next venture was to incorporate our team’s shared love for poetry by creating week-long poetry add-on units for each half term to complement our existing Pathways to Write programme. From our many years working with schools, we recognised that not everyone shares our love for poetry and many teachers find it a challenging area to teach as both a reading and writing skill. It was soon apparent, however, that this would be plagued with difficulties. Although we had sourced many fabulous poems to use for the units, discontinued anthologies, the search for author permissions via agents and publishers and surprise phone calls from published poets soon became regular features of writing a poetry unit. We have now even written our own poetry anthology to accompany our latest half term add on. Despite its initial teething problems, Pathways to Poetry is now a completed product after nearly two years of sweat and tears.

With our poetry units in full swing and sales of Pathways to Write surpassing the 100 mark, the faces of The Literacy Company had changed: the small team had doubled in size over the course of just two years. During 2019, following significant demand from schools for training on developing reading and successful courses for Y2 and Y6 in preparation for statutory testing, a new idea began to bubble within the team – wouldn’t it be great to write a reading programme?

At the same time, as if we didn’t have enough on our plates, schools also began to ask about how they might adapt Pathways to Write to be used at home. You may have started to see a pattern here that once an idea takes hold, the team begins to move heaven and earth to make it happen. Pathways to Home Learning became a lifeline to so many teachers during lockdown but our vision was bigger than that. We all remembered vividly that weekly scramble for meaningful homework activities and felt that this product had legs beyond online learning. By creating our own texts, the activities could stand alone yet link beautifully to our Pathways to Write units. The only obstacle now was writing our own texts…

Pathways Literacy has been a joy to create. For such a small team, it has been a juggernaut of an operation, but we are so proud of it. Sharing fizz over Zoom while watching rather than attending our first award ceremony was surreal. Even more bizarre was unexpectedly winning while some of us were on a time-delay!

Although there are times when the scale of what we have created is a little overwhelming, the messages of support on social media, the unprompted emails of thanks and the teachers who share their Pathways Literacy classrooms with us through photographs and children’s work have made it a worthwhile venture. Behind the scenes, we’re not done yet; we are currently hatching Pathways to Spell and we are already jealous of the teachers whose schools will buy it! We love our jobs and cannot thank enough all the schools who have been on this Pathways Literacy journey with us.

To find out more about our Pathways Literacy products, please visit https://www.theliteracycompany.co.uk/pathways-literacy/ Here you can download sample packs and watch short videos introducing each of the Pathways programmes.

You can also book to attend our FREE webinars – ‘Introducing Pathways Literacy’

on 22nd April or 17th of June – click here for details.