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  1. LITERACY IMPACT! Literacy Across the Curriculum: Maintaining the Momentum Geoff Barton October 4, 2014 All resources can be downloaded at

  2. LITERACY IMPACT! • 1 Where are we (and where are you) with literacy? • 2 Who are your key players and what do you need to do next? • 3 Developing practical approaches … • in Humanities subjects • in Scientific subjects • in tutor time • in speaking & listening … and how will you measure IMPACT?

  3. LITERACY IMPACT! The approach …

  4. LITERACY IMPACT! SECTION 1: So where are we with whole-school literacy?

  5. Reasonable but horrible questions … 1 - Name one child who has improved their reading or writing based on a literacy initiative at your school? 2 - If you have a literacy working party, how much money do their salaries represent? 4 - What do your best teachers do to help students read, write, think and spell better? How do you know? 5 - If literacy is important, is it part of all lesson observations? Reviews? Performance management? 3 - If I asked 3 of your staff what your whole-school policy said, what would they reply?

  6. English Review 2000-05

  7. October 2005: Key findings English is one of the best taught subjects in both primary and secondary schools.

  8. October 2005: Key findings • Standards of writing have improved as a result of guidance from the national strategies • Some teachers give too little thought to ensuring that pupils fully consider the audience, purpose and content for their writing.

  9. October 2005: Key findings • Schools do not always seem to understand the importance of pupils’talk in developing both reading and writing. • Myhill and Fisher: ‘spoken language forms a constraint, a ceiling not only on the ability to comprehend but also on the ability to write, beyond which literacy cannot progress’. • Too many teachers appear to have forgotten that speech ‘supports and propels writing forward’. • Pupils do not improve writing solely by doing more of it; good quality writing benefits from focused discussion that gives pupils a chance to talk through ideas before writing and to respond to friends’ suggestions.

  10. October 2005: Key findings • The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2003: although the reading skills of 10 year old pupils in England compared well with those of pupils in other countries, they read less frequently for pleasure and were less interested in reading than those elsewhere. • NFER 2003: children’s enjoyment of reading had declined significantly in recent years • A Nestlé/MORI report : ‘underclass’ of non-readers, plus cycles of non-reading ‘where teenagers from families where parents are not readers will almost always be less likely to be enthusiastic readers themselves’.

  11. October 2005: Key findings • The role of teaching assistants was described in the report as ‘increasingly effective’.

  12. October 2005: Key findings • Despite the Strategy, weaknesses remain, including: • the stalling of developments as senior management teams focus on other initiatives • lack of robust measures to evaluate the impact of developments across a range of subjects • a focus on writing at the expense of reading, speaking and listening.

  13. Implications for you …? S&L: Does it happen systematically anywhere to develop thinking and to model writing? Writing: is there an understanding across any teams of how to develop writing - eg how to get better evaluations, better essays, better scientific writing? Reading: Who is teaching reading? Has reading for pleasure slipped from your radar? Leadership: Has your leadership team lost interest in literacy? How will you reignite interest?

  14. LITERACY IMPACT! What’s the latest news?

  15. LITERACY LATEST! What we know about Writing … • The standard of writing has improved in recent years but still lags 20% behind reading at all key stages (eg around 60% of students get level 4 at KS2 in writing, compared to 80% in reading). • Writing has improved as a result of the National Strategy. • S&L has a big role in writing - it allows students to rehearse ideas and structures and builds confidence. • But S&L has lower status because of assessment weightings. • In teaching writing we tend to focus too much on end-products rather than process (eg frames). We should think more about composition - how ideas are found and framed, how choices are made, how to decide about the medium, how to draft and edit. • We are still stuck with a narrow range of writing forms and need to emphasise creativity in non-fiction forms. • We need to rediscover the excitement of writing. With thanks to Professor Richard Andrews, University of York

  16. LITERACY LATEST! Some implications for us … • Who’s actually teaching writing in our school? • Is there a shared understanding of what helps pupils to write? • How can we teach composition? • Which teams could have a particular impact if they developed a shared approach to writing? • How is speaking & listening being used to help pupils to write? • Is there a school or departmental approach to S&L? • Where should we start?

  17. LITERACY LATEST! What we know about vocabulary … • Aged 7: children in the top quartile have 7100 words; children in the lowest have around 3000. The main influence in parents. • Using and explaining high-level words is a key to expanding vocabulary. A low vocabulary has a negative effect throughout schooling. • Declining reading comprehension from 8 onwards is largely a result of low vocabulary. Vocabulary aged 6 accounts for 30% of reading variance aged 16. • Catching up becomes very difficult. Children with low vocabularies would have to learn faster than their peers (4-5 roots words a day) to catch up within 5-6 years. • Vocabulary is built via reading to children, getting children to read themselves, engaging in rich oral language, encouraging reading and talking at home • In the classroom it involves: defining and explaining word meanings, arranging frequent encounters with new words in different contexts, creating a word-rich environment, addressing vocabulary learning explicitly, selecting appropriate words for systematic instruction/reinforcement, teaching word-learning strategies With thanks to DES Research Unit

  18. LITERACY LATEST! Some implications for us … • Teach 10 words per week - by whom, when, where? • Ensure key pupils are read to with vocabulary explanations • Teach new words in a text prior to reading • Encourage questions about word meanings • Display key words and meanings • Have a glossary in the planner • See tutor time as a literacy kick-starter each day

  19. LITERACY LATEST! What we know about students who make slow progress … Characteristics: 2/3 boys. Generally well-behaved. Positive in outlook. “Invisible” to teachers. Keen to respond but unlikely to think first. Persevere with tasks, especially with tasks that are routine. Lack self-help strategies. Stoical, patient, resigned. Reading: they over-rely on a limited range of strategies and lack higher order reading skills Writing: struggle to combine different skills simultaneously. Don’t get much chance for oral rehearsal, guided writing, precise feedback S&L: don’t see it as a key tool in thinking and writing Targets: set low-level targets; overstate functional skills; infrequently review progress With thanks to DfES

  20. LITERACY LATEST! Some implications for us … • How to get more S&L into their lives? • How to get them thinking before answering? • How to get better feedback? • How to set more challenging targets? • How to stop them from being invisible? • Who should be their champions?

  21. LITERACY LATEST! What we know about functional skills … Background: concerns from employers about GCSE. Key skills effective but not mainstream. Intention: students won’t be able to get A*-C without mastering level 2 functional elements. Could be standalone qualification. Won’t be solely multi-choice. Currently: being trialled. Watch this space. With thanks to DfES

  22. What we know about Literacy Across the Curriculum • Good literacy skills are a key factor in raising standards across all subjects • Language is the main medium we use for teaching, learning and developing thinking, so it is at the heart of teaching and learning • Literacy is best taught as part of the subject, not as an add-on • All teachers need to give explicit attention to the literacy needed in their subject.

  23. Consistencyin literacy is achieved when … • Literacy skills are taught consistently and systematically across the curriculum • Expectation of standards of accuracy and presentation are similar in all classrooms • Teachers are equipped to deal with literacy issues in their subject both generically and specifically • The same strategies are used across the school: the teaching sequence for writing; active reading strategies; planning speaking and listening for learning • Teachers use the same terminology to describe language.

  24. Ofsted suggests literacy across the curriculum is good when … • Senior managers are actively involved in the planning and monitoring • Audits and action planning are rigorous • Monitoring focuses on a range of approaches, e.g. classroom observation, work scrutiny as well as formal tests • Time is given to training, its dissemination and embedding • Schools work to identified priorities.

  25. KS3 IMPACT!  Talking Point  • What have been the successes in your own school? • What do you need to do next?

  26. Literacy strategy: The next phase Self-evaluation: So where are you up to in your school? 0 3 5 NO PROGRESS GOOD PROGRESS

  27. Literacy strategy: The next phase

  28. LITERACY IMPACT! SECTION 2: Working with the key players

  29. Focus relentlessly on T&L ‘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’ “Schools are places where the pupils go to watch the teachers working” (John West-Burnham) “For many years, attendance at school has been required (for children and for teachers) while learning at school has been optional.” (Stoll, Fink & East)

  30. Key players Librarian Strategy manager Working party Headteacher Governors Teaching assistants Subject leaders Students! Tutors

  31. Key players Strategy manager • Focus, tailor, customise • See as professional development rather than delivery • Differentiate training • Emphasise monitoring more than initiatives • Use pupil surveys for learning & teaching

  32. Headteacher Must be actively involved as head TEACHER Eg monitoring books, breakfast with students, feedback to staff Must be seen in lessons Must be reined in to prioritise

  33. Librarian Key part in improving literacy Include in training Part of curriculum meetings Library should embody good practice - eg key words, guidance on retrieving information, visual excitement Active training for students, breaking down subject barriers Get a library commitment from every team Then sample to monitor it

  34. Governors Visit library, get in classrooms, talk to students Clearly signal the “literacy” focus Emphasise s/he’s discussing consistency Sample of students and feedback Part of faculty reviews on (say) how we teach writing

  35. Working party Maintain or disband? Less doing and more evaluating - questionnaires, looking at handouts, working around rooms, talking to students Asking questions: “What do teachers here do that helps you to understand long texts better?” Work sampling Creating a critical mass

  36. Students Tell us how we’re doing Build into school council Small groups work with faculty teams to guide and evaluate Audit rooms for key words, etc

  37. Teaching Assistants • Make them literacy experts • Let them lead training • Make their monitoring role explicit • Publish their feedback

  38. Subject leaders • Help them to identify the 3 bits of literacy that will have the biggest impact • Prioritise one per term or year • Join their meetings at start and end of process • Help them to keep it simple • Provide models and sample texts • Evaluate • Build literacy into their team’s performance management

  39. Tutors • Reconceptualise tutor time as creating an ethos for learning / reviewing targets • Think therefore how the environment of tutor groups could embody good practice - key words, glossaries, approaches to reading and spelling, connectives • Reject silent reading and replace with literacy-based quizzes, etc • Make the school planner a central document for literacy

  40. LITERACY IMPACT! Your role … Don’t call it literacy - call it good learning & teaching, or writing, or reading Build it into lesson observation sheets Build it into performance management Keep it in the public eye Emphasise increased student motivation Talk to your Head about core skills for all teachers

  41. LITERACY IMPACT! 7 Show before & after models 8 Don’t focus on grammar knowledge needed by staff 9 Show it’s part of a whole-school strategy 10 Celebrate every small-scale success 11 Quote students’ feedback 12 Be consultant, not doer

  42. LITERACY IMPACT! SECTION 3: Practical approaches

  43. Book sampling…

  44. Literacy strategy: The next phase IMPACT!

  45. LITERACY IMPACT! What are the core literacy skills needed by teachers? • General teaching approaches to writing, handouts, vocabulary development • Specific approaches in humanities / scientific teaching? • Culturally - in S&L, tutor time, the physical environment

  46. Essential literacy rooted in professional development An example …

  47. LITERACY IMPACT! Teaching sequence Key conventions WRITING Connectives Sentence variety