Across the seven Local Authorities within the Northern Alliance, ‘taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy’ has aimed to develop an approach which supports learners through taking a developmental approach to literacy. Emerging Literacy, an approach originally developed in Highland Council, has been further developed across the Northern Alliance to support cross-sector working, providing education practitioners with the development knowledge of Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and Educational Psychologists, delivered in a classroom context. The rationale behind Emerging Literacy aims to ensure that the appropriate foundational reading and writing skills are planned for within early literacy programmes, ensuring solid foundations are developed as a fundamental component of early literacy programmes.
As part of the Emerging Literacy development across the Northern Alliance this year, we published an interim report on the progress made in December 2016 and March 2017. This report, July 2017, is the third and final report of the 2016/2017 session.
The purpose of this final report (July 2017) is to:
- share the impact on practitioners and the outcomes for children and young people between August 2016 and June 2017
- provide an update on the pupil data for Phonological Awareness and Pre-Handwriting, sharing comparison data between September 2016, January 2017 and May 2017
- provide an overview of the input made available to practitioners across the Northern Alliance between August 2016 and June 2017
- make recommendations as to the continued partnership of the Northern Alliance in taking forward Raising Attainment in Literacy, Language and Communication.
The Key Summary Points on pages 2 and 3 highlight:
The data from the surveys completed by practitioners in September 2016 following the initial project launch, October/ November 2016 following the first local authority networks and June 2017 following the Sharing Our Learning Event have found that the project has had the following impact on practitioners and outcomes for children:
- The support programme – including the initial project launch, local authority networks, the Sharing Our Learning Event, bespoke training and ongoing communication – has increased teacher subject knowledge of foundational reading and writing skills, enabling teachers to take a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy.
- Collaboration between and across local authorities and between and across health boards has allowed for the aims of education practitioners, Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and educational psychologists to align, allowing practitioners to support the learning of children, young people and their families, creating a shared vocabulary across professions.
- Teachers report that they have an improved understanding of the teacher judgement of the progress and achievement of children through the knowledge and skills acquired in taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy. The collaboration has supported ‘Achievement of a Level’ teacher judgements in the Early Level.
- Teachers report that each and every child has made progress in Literacy and English. Through taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy, teachers have been able to effectively match the teaching and learning to the needs of each and every child. Teachers have been able to effectively monitor and track the progress of children throughout the 2016/2017 session.
- Teachers report that through taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy, children are more proficient in reading and writing by the end of Primary 1 than they have been in previous years.
The data collection from a sample of Primary 1 pupils across the Northern Alliance in September 2016, January 2017 and May 2017 has suggested the following outcomes for children:
- It is typical for children to enter Primary 1 with gaps in their foundational reading and writing skills, some of this is due to natural variation and some of this is due to background experiences. The particular pattern of gaps are different for each child, regardless of their local authority or background factors external to school; however, there are some aspects of foundational skills for reading and writing in which gaps are more and less prominent.
- Through matching the teaching and learning to the needs of each and every child, teachers have been able to address the gaps in foundational reading and writing skills as part of their Literacy and English programme to strengthen the skills which underpin the automaticity of reading and writing.
- Through taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy, practitioners have been able to interrupt the poverty related gap. In Phonological Awareness skills, by May 2017, the gap between children from the most deprived areas (SIMD 1-3) and children from the middle and least deprived areas (SIMD 4-10) has begun to close.
- By the end of May 2017 almost eight in ten children (80%) in Primary 1 were secure in almost all of the Phonological Awareness skills assessed(10 or more out of possible 12). This is an increase of 68%, with only 12% of children secure in almost all of Phonological Awareness skills in September 2016.
- By the end of May 2017 over nine in ten children (91%) in Primary 1 were secure in nearly all of the Pre-Handwriting skills assessed (17 or more out of a possible 21). This is an increase of 14%, with just over three quarters of children measured (77%) secure in the majority of Pre-Handwriting skills in September 2016.
The overview of engagement data between 2016/2017 and the projected data for 2017/2018 has identified that:
- In 2016/2017, 17% of schools across the Northern Alliance were supported in taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy. This was delivered through a core (5% of schools) and parallel (12% of schools) support programme.
- In 2017/2018 it is projected that 51% of schools across the Northern Alliance will be engaged. This has been made possible through supporting local authorities and health boards to develop parallel groups to enable sustainability within local authorities. The 2017/2018 support will be delivered through a core (17% of schools) and parallel (34% of schools) support programme.
The Key Recommendations on page 4 highlight:
- The gaps in foundational skills for reading and writing in Primary 1 have been addressed through direct teaching. Taking a developmental approach has allowed for practitioners to target learning and teaching to directly address the gaps identified in initial assessments. The gaps which have been addressed have been tracked between September 2016 and May 2017. It is recommended that learners who transition into Primary 2 with gaps in their foundational reading and writing skills are supported in developing these skills in Primary 2. Guidance has been provided to support schools in the transition between Primary 1 and Primary 2.
- Having access to continuous support through collaborative networks, including colleagues from both education and health, has instilled confidence in practitioners and enhanced teaching practice. The 2017/2018 networks of support should encourage ‘collaborative buddying’ between schools who have been initially supported in 2016/2017 and those who will begin to be supported during the 2017/2018 session. This will allow for sustainability across the Northern Alliance.
- Whilst there are some examples of practice in which schools have developed a whole school approach to Emerging Literacy to support all children, it is recommended that practitioners are supported through the local networks to develop a whole-school culture to ‘Taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy’ across the Northern Alliance.
- Following the success of the project, ‘Taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy’ should be acknowledged as the approach being embedded across the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance has demonstrated success through the partnerships which have been developed with Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) centres and schools across local authorities and beyond ELC centres and schools with Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and educational psychologists across local authorities and health boards. Following the announcement of funding from the Scottish Government which will support the further development of the approach across the Northern Alliance during the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 sessions, the steering group of practitioners across education and health should plan for sustainability to enable practice to become embedded across the Northern Alliance.
- Following the release of the final Literacy and English Benchmarks in June 2017, the 2017/2018 report should, in addition to the pupil level data reported in this report, report on the ‘Achievement of a Level’ teacher judgements in the Early Level.