What specific curriculum area, subject or aspect did you intend to have impact on?
- Assessment and target setting
- English - writing
How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?
We intended to have impact on writing, focusing on composition as evidence locally and nationally showed that this was an area of weakness, through
- developing children’s understanding and responsibility for their own learning;
- building partnerships between teacher and pupils to inform target setting; and
- using assessment for learning to identify gaps in children’s learning which could be met through focused guided work.
What were your success criteria?
To work towards the principles of ECaW, which are:-
- improving quality of first teaching (whole class);
- improving guided writing to meet group needs; and
- one to one intervention.
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What information or data did you use to measure progress towards your success criteria?
- Observation outcomes
- Periodic teacher assessment
- Pupil consultation data
What did you do? What teaching approaches (pedagogy) did you use to achieve the intended impact?
- Assessment for Learning (AfL)
- Collaborative group work
- Teaching sequences
Describe the teaching approaches you used
To improve quality first teaching we worked on planning the entire unit (medium term planning) with clear outcomes in mind. We paid particular attention to the phases (teaching sequence for writing) and made use of the National Strategies site. We found the exemplified units and associated resources a good starting point and used these in conjunction with linked APP targets. Once this was in place, teaching was more purposeful and direct. Assessment for learning then became embedded within our everyday teaching. This enabled our guided groups to be more focused which allowed us and pupils to fill the gaps in their learning and planning was adapted accordingly.
After our initial meeting with our Lead Teacher we implemented a series of changes within our classrooms; seating arrangements, a dedicated writing table and a working wall.
Previously children had been seated according to their writing level. However, on the advice of our Lead Teacher, it was agreed that we would trial mixed ability pairings (talk partners). Ideally this would mean that there would be two contrasting children who could bounce ideas off each other. Choosing partners was quite an onerous task but improvements were seen almost immediately; those children who saw themselves as being on the ‘bottom’ table no longer felt like failures and others enjoyed working with someone different.
Dedicated writing table
In providing a permanent writing table for focused learning we found that the quality of the children’s writing improved dramatically. The children were keen to be invited to sit at the special table and would work hard to impress us. Additionally, we found our teaching to be more focused as we were working with children whom we had identified as having a particular need. As a consequence of working with one group it soon became clear that the other children in the class needed to remain focused during independent work to ensure that they produced work to the best of their ability. We both found that less able children became more independent as a result of the writing table. This was because they understood that they would have the opportunity to work with the class teacher on an area of weakness when necessary.
The working wall was not a new concept to us but was something which was not currently in place at our school. After discussing this with our Lead Teacher, we felt that it would help the children to understand how writing develops and texts are constructed over a period of time. We organised our working walls as a sequence which linked closely to how our units were planned. This enabled us and pupils to reflect on what had already been learnt, to display examples of ongoing work and to know what we are working towards. In addition to the working wall, children are encouraged to add interesting words or phrases related to the current unit of work which children could ‘magpie’ and use in their independent writing. To improve the quality of guided writing we were provided with a whiteboard which was located in our ‘writing area’ where we could scribe the guided work. This was also helpful (together with the information on the working wall) for the children working independently who could use this as a prompt to get them started.
We also began the task of improving our book corners as this was identified as an area which was weak. The book corners had lots of books, however many were in poor condition or were not ‘quality’ texts.
We used National Curriculum levels to measure children’s initial levels and again at the end of every seasonal term. Targets and APP were used continually throughout the year to inform planning, guided work and the selection of pupils for one to one tuition. We each tracked six children’s progress using APP grids. As part of this tracking process we interviewed the children using a questionnaire which our Writing Partner provided. This gave us a good insight into how the children viewed themselves as writers and how they viewed writing in general.
What did you do? What approaches to CPD and learning for adults were used?
- Partnership teaching
Describe the CPD approaches you used
We were part of the Every Child a Writer programme in Medway led by Ruth Wells. We worked with and discussed our practice with our Leading teacher Amanda Grenfell who acted as our Writing Partner; she provided in-class coaching and review meetings which were used to develop our practice further. Our first meeting with the Writing Partner was used to review current practice, formulate an action plan and set targets for the next meeting. Subsequent meetings involved shared planning and team teaching. In total we received 5.5 days support which included twilight cluster meetings where we were able to share good practice with colleagues from other schools. During these meetings our Writing Partner shared quality texts with us and teaching ideas with a particular focus on guided writing.
With the support of our Lead Teacher, we were able to dedicate time to exploring and understanding the different phases within the Primary Framework.
During our first cluster meeting, our Lead Teacher gave us the opportunity to look at a variety of high quality texts which she recommended for use in phase one of each unit. This gave us the chance to build up our knowledge of appropriate authors for our Key Stage. She also introduced us to the concept of using picture books which was something we had not previously considered.
What CPD materials, research or expertise have you drawn on?
We attended regional training seminars run by the National Strategies which gave us an overview of ECaW. We attended local cluster meetings with other teachers who were delivering ECaW within the LEA. We used APP, Support for Writing, Planning Circles / phases materials from the Primary Framework. This was used together with the Talk for Writing DVD which gave us ideas to stimulate discussion before, during and after writing. Initially this was introduced during guided writing.
- Assessing Pupils' Progress http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/primary/assessment/assessingpupilsprogressapp
- Support for Writing http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/102688
- Talk for Writing pack http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/163592
- Every Child a Writer support materials http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/225419
Who provided you with support?
- Leading teacher
- Local authority staff
- Senior management
How were you supported?We were given the opportunity to work with a Lead Teacher who was an experienced teacher from a local school. Our Head Teacher supported the project and provided funding for new texts which could be used in Literacy lessons.