Northern Alliance: Raising Attainment in Literacy, Language and Communication – End of Year Report (July 2018)

Today we are pleased to share the progress of work across the Northern Alliance through Raising Attainment in Literacy, Language and Communication. The attached end of year report (July 2018) summarises the progress made in the Northern Alliance Emerging Literacy workstream as of July 2018. The summary (pgs. 2 – 4) details the key points and recommendations moving forward as below:

End of Year Report Summary – Key Points:

From the evaluations of Class Teachers and Senior Managers during the Emerging Literacy Networks in March 2018 (N=106) and the evaluations of the Sharing/Celebration Networks in May/June 2018 (N=287) it would be reasonable to summarise:

Through being part of the Emerging Literacy Workstream, the literacy, language and communication knowledge and understanding of teachers and senior managers is improving, impacting on how children develop early literacy skills.

  • Prior to the pencil control input, less than one in six practitioners rated their knowledge and understanding of foundational handwriting skills as high. Following the input almost all practitioners reported having a high level of knowledge and understanding.
  • Prior to the language development input on sequence and narrative skills, less than one in ten practitioners rated their knowledge and understanding of Sequence and Narrative skills as high. By the end of the network almost all practitioners reported having a high level of knowledge and understanding.

Through being part of the Emerging Literacy Workstream, teachers and senior managers have been able to track children’s progress in literacy, language and communication, tailoring learning and teaching to the needs of children.

Practitioners involved in the workstream have reported that they would benefit from further opportunities to collaborate on ‘Achievement of a Level’ to strengthen teacher judgement.

From the end of year evaluations of Class Teachers and Senior Mangers (N=287) during the Emerging Literacy Sharing/Celebration Networks in May/June 2018, it would be reasonable to summarise in schools which are taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy:

Children are demonstrating application of early foundational listening and talking, reading and writing skills.

The teaching and learning is matched to children’s stage of development; children are making progress and experiencing success which is developmentally appropriate.

Practitioners have reported that further collaborative support would be beneficial in order to enable schools to take a whole-school approach to Emerging Literacy.

From the data collection of a sample of Primary 1 pupils across the Northern Alliance (Sample size: N=1,932 in English Phonological Awareness; N=1,859 in Fine Motor Skills and N=1,859 in Pencil Control/ Pre-writing Skills) in May 2018, it would be reasonable to summarise:

Practitioners are paying attention to children’s strengths and gaps in their foundational skills, using the assess-plan-teach cycle to differentiate their teaching and learning to children’s needs. There has been clear progress in children’s foundational literacy development between September 2017 and May 2018.

By the end of Primary 1, almost all children have developed the earlier elements of Phonological Awareness which are foundations of the phonemic awareness which support effective reading and writing.

By the end of Primary 1, almost all children have developed the foundational skills which lead to efficient handwriting.

The “gaps” in children’s average Phonological Awareness scores are closing between children living in the most deprived areas compared with children living in the medium and least deprived areas. Children living in the most deprived areas made significantly more progress in phonological awareness than children living in the least deprived areas.

The average “gaps” in children’s tripod grasp and pencil control skills, which are foundations of handwriting, have been eliminated between children living in the most deprived areas compared with children living in the medium and least deprived areas. Children living in the most deprived areas made significantly more progress in tripod grasp and pencil control development than children living in the least deprived areas.

The March 2018 Interim Report summarised the analysis of the 2016/2017 ‘Achievement of CfE Levels’ data for Highland schools who were part of the Emerging Literacy workstream in 2016/2017. Analysis of the 2017/2018 data, with due regard to validity, will be undertaken during the 2018/2019 session.

End of Year Report – Future Recommendations:

Recommendation 1:
The evaluation of taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy should further investigate how the ongoing collaboration through networking is having an impact on practice and the outcomes that the changes in practice are having on children’s learning.

Recommendation 2:
Children’s progress in foundational literacy skills should continue to be tracked as an ongoing process by practitioners, using the information to inform the planning of learning, teaching and assessment. Practitioners should be supported to triangulate this information with observations and holistic assessment to further their understanding and teacher judgement of progress within and through the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Levels.

Recommendation 3:
The ongoing evaluations of practitioners should continue to be used to monitor the impact of individual aspects of professional learning as well as shaping the structure and content of subsequent networking, in person and online.

Recommendation 4:
Working in collaboration between local authorities/ health boards across the Northern Alliance and with colleagues in Education Scotland, case studies which detail how those involved in the workstream have taken a developmental approach to emerging literacy should be developed and shared. Case studies should focus on how the leadership of change and the impact on pedagogy better outcomes for children. 

Recommendation 5:
The collaborative support for the 2018/2019 session should be driven by the elements identified in the 2017/2018 end of year evaluations. Practitioners should continue to be part of the development, testing and sharing of new resources.

Recommendation 6:
To enable sustainability of the approach, Lead Practitioners across the Northern Alliance should be supported throughout the 2018/2019 session to coordinate aspects of local networks of practice through peer education.

CLICK HERE – End of Year RAILLC Report (July 2018)

Reading is so Caol! – First Minister’s Reading Challenge

Last week Caol Primary School won the ‘School and Community Partnership Reading Journey’ award at the First Minister’s Reading Challenge award ceremony. The young people and staff at Caol have shared how they’ve developed ‘Reading is so Caol’ in their community.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets with pupils from Caol Primary School, from the Highlands, at a celebration event for the First Minister’s Reading Challenge at The Hub, Edinburgh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 20, 2018. Photo credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

This year we have had the pleasure of taking part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge (FMRC). This year in our school we entered the School and Community Partnership Challenge with our ‘Reading is so Caol’ campaign. This campaign was led by our P2/3 teacher Kerry Lamont who worked tirelessly all year to produce fun and engaging events that involved the whole school community.

Mrs Lamont shared, “One of the priorities in our School Improvement Plan this session was to increase family engagement and broaden the family learning opportunities we offered as a school. The Reading is so Caol campaign helped enormously with this. Our various reading events and open afternoons were very well attended and our whole community has been fantastic in getting behind our campaign. Our slogan is ‘Reading is so Caol’ so we’ve tried to make it just that, with pupils, staff, families and community members all getting involved!”

Our Reading is so Caol campaign started with pupils sending in photos of themselves reading in unusual places. We also had lots of merchandise such as banners, t-shirts and caps printed with our slogan. We have since sold lots of the caps and our pupils can wear them during reading lessons and ERIC time. There have been lots of authors visiting including Mairi Hedderwick and Barry Hutchison as well as messages of support from many more. We enjoyed a variety of theme days like ‘Harry Potter Day’, a Book Week that every pupil participated in, reading parties and open afternoons which included various mascots. The children also ran whole school reading and writing competitions and we also wrote songs about reading to sing at assembly. There is a monthly Caol Reader trophy. We were visited by two mischievous reading elves called Fred and George at Christmas time and we ran a weekly book club which carried out a whole school favourite book and author Bookbug style vote!

It was great to be invited to the FMRC celebration day in Edinburgh where we were able to share our work with Nicola Sturgeon, The Scottish book Trust and the other schools invited to the event. We are delighted to receive this award. It has been such a joy to see so many of our pupils so engaged with reading and it’s been lovely to see many developing a new love for reading during our First Ministers Reading Challenge campaign. We’ve all had so much fun along the way with lots of different reading initiatives and events. We are lucky to have such brilliant support from our pupils, staff, families and wider community who have been excellent in supporting our Reading is so Caol campaign all year!

Josie, P7

“Reading is so Caol because fiction books are appreciated more and people shared their opinions on characters and plots. I also really enjoyed Harry Potter day because I got to see other people enjoy the Harry Potter books too. I loved that reading became more than just a lesson in school. It became something that we all do because it’s fun!”

Kayla, P4

“I have loved taking part in the First Minister’s Reading Challenge because our school started a Reading is so Caol campaign which has encouraged everyone to read more. We all enjoyed having famous authors visit the school because it inspired everyone to read. We got the chance to go to Edinburgh and meet the First Minister. I loved looking at other schools’ tables and getting some ideas for ‘Reading is so Caol’ next year. It was really cool when one the schools that was there said that they look on our social media pages and that we inspire them.”

Lucy, P7

“Our campaign has been so much fun! I enjoyed running a whole school competition with Josie where we encouraged pupils to write a story and also raise awareness of endangered animals. We all liked creating our own songs, Harry Potter day and getting some new books! It’s been amazing seeing children who didn’t like reading finding books they enjoy and reading more than they did before. Reading is so Caol! When we went to Edinburgh I loved seeing other schools and their achievements because everyone has worked so hard for the FMRC.”

Funding for Book Week Scotland 2018!

The Scottish Book Trust have grants of £350 to help your school celebrate Book Week Scotland 2018 (19-25 November). As long as your project follows their Rebel theme, and contains an intergenerational element, you could use your grant to purchase books, invite authors into your school or carry out special one-off events during the week.

Email kelsey.jubin@scottishbooktrust.com for details.

Highland: Emerging Literacy Networks 2018/2019

To support schools in taking a developmental approach to Emerging Literacy in the 18/19 session, the network sessions are available to apply for through the CPD calendar for those new to and those continuing to embed Emerging Literacy. The networks are designed for class teachers, ASN teachers and school senior managers, as well as educational psychologist and allied health professionals, to support both those new to and those continuing to embed a whole-school approach to Emerging Literacy. It is appreciated if those signing-up for next year’s networks do so by Monday 25th June 2018. Venues will be confirmed in the new session.

For further information see May 2018 Emerging Literacy Update