All Saints Teaching School

Phonics for Fluency

1. Overview:

This bid addressed two key SW themes; ‘developing phonics and improving the outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils.’ It aimed to enable strategic school improvement in order to drive up reading standards across the SW.

Core KPIs were to; accelerate pupil progress and increase attainment at EYFS, Y1 phonic screen and KS1 reading outcomes; increase knowledge and confidence in advancing pupil progress in phonics and reading for fluency. This project built upon a previous successful pilot of phonics school improvement which highlighted the importance in upskilling teacher confidence and expertise in phonics, and the need for coherent phonics leadership across key phases. To maximise impact, increase capacity and upscale the intervention, the lead Teaching School engaged with five other Teaching Schools across the SW in order to develop and enhance SLE leadership and expertise in delivering phonics school improvement initiatives through the hub model.

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

There were several effective strategies but the opportunity to network was underestimated at the start. This generated a huge amount of professional dialogue leading to sharing of best practice. Through the network approach teachers and phonics leads were able to come together regularly and share the impact of the previous workshop’s CPD and how it could be further refined. The networking also provided space for teachers to talk about their own approaches and what had and had not worked.

Investment in the Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) ensured consistency and ensured that skills were transferable beyond the scope of the project. SLEs were key in the dissemination of the project but as they were coming from a range of schools and Teaching School Alliances (TSA), we needed to ensure consistency. The training of SLEs ensured we had consistency of message and that there was quality assurance. You cannot always rely on the fact that all SLES have the same skills set. Once this was established, they were able to deliver the project aims and it ensured we had equity and consistency across the project.

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

  1. The Teaching School was able to develop its own expertise in Phonics so that their skill could be sustainably transferred to other school improvement work.
  2. If you were planning on taking on such a large-scale project, build in the costs of a person to collect, collate and process the information so that the project leads can focus on impact.
  3. Another factor to consider is ‘initiative overload’. The nature of the project meant that the DfE wanted certain proportion of schools included in the project – eligible schools. In principle this is absolutely the right thing to do and of course any failing school should be supported. Eligible schools did not always have the capacity to engage because they may have other school improvement partners working with them and this did not always join up, resulting in initiative overload for some schools. Moving into further school improvement projects it would be advisable to truly assess the ability of the school to engage. If they have other school improvement work going on, ensure that you investigate further to make sure any project can have maximum impact.

4. Sustainability measures taken by the project to ensure improvements are sustained beyond the funding period

It is important to note that the SSIF Phonics project was applied for to ensure that the work from the DfE Phonics Partnership Funding was sustained and grown – already demonstrating sustainability. Much of the structure and approach in the SSIF was taken from the evaluation from the Phonics Partnership project.

In the same approach, the lead school in the lead MAT who secured the SSIF funding also became an English Hub as did another school in the SSIF project. The focus of the English hub application was on learning from the SSIF project.

The English Hub is now up and running and the first years’ activities have been focused on reaching out and engaging schools through show cases which can lead to audits and support for resourcing. We have been able to draw upon the expertise within the SSIF schools to run showcases all over the region to ensure maximum engagement – currently at 180+ schools. This would not have been possible without the SSIF and their best practice has been used to support other schools. We have also linked with the Cornwall Hub as well to ensure that we work collaboratively. As the Hub extends its work to early reading, we can continue to draw upon expertise and lessons learnt from the SSIF to ensure that the impact is sustained.

In addition, we have used the network of Teaching Schools, in partnership with our Regional Teaching School Lead (RTSL), to be able to sign post to excellent phonics practice. As Lead school in the SSIF and Hub we are also working with Devon Teaching Schools, with our RTSL, to co-ordinate quality phonics and early reading support ensuring the work is sustainable and region wide. We also aim to engage Kingsbridge Research School.

To ensure that high quality CPD was sustained, each Hub used research from the EEF and Teacher Development Trust to understand what quality CPD looked like, how to be evidence led and how to link to wider research. This ensured high quality CPD through the project and provided a route beyond the scope of the project.

We sit on the local Regional Education Partnership (REP) Board as a MAT and English Hub representative. This will support the joining up of the work and impact from the SSIF to support further projects and help inform how we work together as we move forward. The SSIF was a vehicle for high quality and impactful collaboration (evident in outcomes) and this is a springboard to ensure that impact is sustained. Through our role on the REP board we can link with the NCETM lead to see if lessons from Maths Hubs can support the roll out of the phonics through the English Hubs. One of the long-term objectives of the SSIF has been to create a life-long love of reading - the connection with the English Hub is the vehicle to deliver this.

In addition to the REP Board, we also sit on the Standards Boards for Torbay and Devon, therefore sharing the project’s impact. It also means that we are in the correct forum to support not only individual schools but projects to support schools.

We believe that the English Hub status ensures the long-term sustainability of the phonics and the SSIF learning, it provides a platform for ensuring the success of the Hub and future phonics.