Reducing the reading achievement gap. Improving literacy skills and progress for KS2 pupils with a focus on those with SEND and in result of the Pupil Premium

Gloucestershire LA

1. Overview

The project aimed to improve the reading and literacy skills of KS2 SEND pupils and pupils receiving PP and close the current reading achievement gap within the Forest of Dean schools. These pupil groups were achieving below the county and national averages in progress scores for reading and for English and Maths A*-C grades.

The project planned to provide structured training and support to Forest of Dean schools to enable them to identify specific literacy needs and deliver targeted, evidenced based intervention to vulnerable learners. In addition to this, the project planned to work with whole-school and library service partners to develop a culture of ‘Reading for Pleasure’ within schools.

Planned short term outcomes include; training and up-skilling teachers in delivering and monitoring literacy interventions and ‘Reading for Pleasure’ logs show pupils independently choosing to read.

In the longer term, intended outcomes in the supported schools were:

  1. School and LA data evidencing improved progress scores for pupils with PP and SEND pupils in reading and writing by March 2019
  2. Narrowing of the achievement gap
  3. More targeted pupils are on track to make expected levels of progress.
  4. Year 7 data showing that pupils are better prepared to engage with the curriculum.

The project also aimed to demonstrate that evidenced based, targeted and well delivered and monitored interventions have more of a positive and lasting impact on progress than the reliance on TA support alone to meet vulnerable learners’ needs.

2. Good practice to share with others interested in running school improvement projects to ensure projects deliver the intended outcome.

The project lead makes the following recommendations based on elements of successful practice that featured in this project:

  1. Close monitoring of progress within supported schools for the duration of the project.
  2. Visits to gauge actual progress and provide individualised support and coaching to members of those schools involved in the project (the working party).
  3. Enable individual schools to identify how strategies need to be adapted and successes shared with the wider working party.
  4. Delivery of intervention is by credible experts in terms of subject knowledge and understanding of the specific contextual challenges of the supported schools.

3. Lessons learned - What the project may do differently in the future

If running the project again the project lead recommends the following:

  1. Working party members have the authority to make decisions, lead, and influence change.
  2. Evidence of intended outcomes are achievable in the lifecycle of the project.
  3. Outcomes and measures of success need to specific and clear
  4. The supported school can dedicate appropriate time and focus to this project and take care to avoid simultaneous interventions.
  5. School leadership supports the project.
  6. School climate is conducive to good implementation of the project.

NOTE: whilst judgement on the latter three points can be made prior to starting the project, acknowledge that these can be affected part way through the lifecycle of the project due to e.g. staff changes of Ofsted inspection.

3. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvement are sustained beyond the funding period

The project has put in place the following sustainability measures:

  1. A network of leads has been developed across the group of supported schools and communication structures established (scheduled meetings and Facebook page)
  2. Staff within supported schools have been upskilled and resources to support ongoing impact purchased,

An overview of the project including our approach, the features of successful schools and impact have been shared more widely with Gloucestershire County. This has included presentations at Gloucester LA annual Head Teacher conference (March 2019), LA English Subject Leader Meetings (June 2019) and Closing the Gap conference (October 2019).