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Raising standards in reading and writing at Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage

Case Study
  • Authored by: Jonathan Smart
  • Status: Approved


What were your reasons for doing this type of development work?

Our own self evaluation and our Ofsted inspection in January 2008 identified the need to raise standards in Reading and Writing in Key Stage 1 and Foundation. For the last 4 years 2005-8 standards in Reading and Writing were well below national expectation at the end of Key Stage 1 and Foundation. The results trends showed that there was little improvement during these years. It was therefore vital that something was implemented to address this issue. With a new SLT and staff this was a perfect opportunity to focus a significant amount of resources into this development area.

Who might find this case study useful?

  • Support staff
  • Carer
  • Head of school improvement
  • Headteacher
  • Parent
  • Senior leadership team (SLT)
  • Teacher

Key points

Point 1

Focused coordinated approach to raising standards has raised the quality of teaching and learning

Point 2

Significant improvement in standards in reading and writing at Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage


What specific curriculum area, subject or aspect did you intend to have impact on?

  • Communication, language and literacy
  • English - reading
  • English - writing

How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?

Through a coordinated wide range of interventions to specifically target the areas of development. This increase in curriculum time and increased awareness of the need to improve standards and improving staff pedagogy to implement specific programmes of study.

What were your success criteria?

  • Increase in the % of children achieving 6 points on the profile scale in CLL
  • Increase in the % of children achieving level 2c+, 2b+, 2a+ and 3 in Reading and Writing at the end of Key Stage 1
  • Narrowing the gap between the attainment of boys and girls
  • Improving quality of teaching of reading and writing through CPD

PLEASE NOTE this page has three tabs - click 'Next tab' below or use tabs above to see Teaching approaches and CPD approaches

What information or data did you use to measure progress towards your success criteria?

  • CVA data
  • Data comparison of cohorts
  • Learning walks / study visits
  • Observation outcomes
  • Periodic teacher assessment
  • Pupil consultation data
  • Pupils' work
  • Test results

What did you do? What teaching approaches (pedagogy) did you use to achieve the intended impact?

  • Assessment for Learning (AfL)
  • Other
  • Self assessment and peer assessment
  • Teaching sequences
  • Use of pupil talk for whole-class teaching

Describe the teaching approaches you used

All of the above approaches are key in the implementation of our programmes.

In order to raise standards in these areas we did the following.

  1. We have introduced Read Write Inc across the school for those children who need it. This involved having whole staff 2 day training led by an expert in the programme. This was introduced fully in September 2008. Training was given to teaching assistants and teachers as it is expected that TA's deliver the programme as well as teachers.
  2. We employed a Reading Recovery teacher who runs this programme for the Year 1 and 2 children.
  3. We changed the timetable to ensure that Guided Reading was given its own stand alone slot. This is for 25/30 mins for 4 days per week.
  4. We purchased a brand new Guided Reading scheme to ensure that quality reading materials were available to staff and children and made sure that a significant amount of these books were boy friendly.
  5. We ran the associated Every Child a Reader support materials in Key Stage 1 after staff had had training.
  6. The Read Write Inc scheme was also introduced into Reception and is being taught for 30 mins each day.
  7. We raised our expectations of what the children should be attaining and achieving despite their low attainment on entry.
  8. The Foundation Stage teacher carried out a research project in Visual Literacy focusing on encouraging boys to read and write.
  9. We purchased all associated Read Write Inc materials to ensure that the programme could be delivered effectively.
  10. We raised the profile of Reading and Writing as a school.


What did you do? What approaches to CPD and learning for adults were used?

  • Classroom enquiry
  • Coaching
  • Demonstration
  • Learning conversation
  • Lesson observation
  • Modelling
  • Training
  • Work scrutiny

Describe the CPD approaches you used

The methods that we used to raise standards incorporated all of the approaches to support professional development at Brookvale. The introduction of Read Write Inc was supported with excellent training provided by one of the Read Write Inc team. This raised the level of knowledge of how to effectively teach reading and writing using a synthetic phonics approach and also increased the range of teaching techniques when delivering the programme itself. This training has increased pedagogy particularly for our TAs who can now effectively and confidently deliver the programme at any level.

For the introduction of timetabled Guided Reading sessions we consulted the Local Authority who gave support through a Literacy Consultant. This support was an excellent way of introducing the sessions. Guided Reading sessions are now run effectively and have clear focus during the sessions.

We have subsequently had further support from our Read Write Inc trainer who has visited school on 2 further occasions to look at the effectiveness of the deliver and to monitor the progress of teaching and learning. This has involved demonstration sessions and lesson observation.

The Foundation class teacher has been working with colleagues across the city in a piece of action research into visual literacy. This was aimed at raising boys engagement in Reading and Writing.

We have closely monitored the pupils progress in Reading and Writing at Foundation and Key Stage 1 so that we can evidence progress identify areas of development and refine practice when and where necessary.

Our Reading Recovery teacher is following the reading recovery program for a number of children in either Year 1 and 2 and we have used the associated programs that come with the Every Child a Reader package.

What CPD materials, research or expertise have you drawn on?

The main training has come from external sources. Read Write Inc was delivered by a member of the Ruth Miskin team and this consisted of 2 full days for all staff.http://www.ruthmiskinliteracy.com/

Reading Recovery training is on going for the teacher involved and various other teachers have attended training provided by the Local Authority under the banner of Every Child a Reader.

Guided Reading training was delivered both internal and externally during a staff meeting and through monitoring.

New staff members have been booked onto Read Write Inc training to ensure that all staff members have had the same level of training.

Who provided you with support?

  • External agency
  • Middle leader
  • Senior management
  • Subject leader

How were you supported?

We were supported in our development plans externally through the providers mentioned previously and during the last academic year their has been a significant amount of support given from Senior Leaders and Middle management to ensure that external guidance and training is acted upon effectively. We have had 2 additional days support from our Read Write Inc trainer. This is now a regular aspect of our teaching and learning at Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage.


What has been the overall impact on pupil learning?

The overall impact on pupil learning has been significant. This is best seen in the summary below but it is important to note that on top of the sound statistical evidence of improvement there has also been a shift in the expectations of both pupils and staff to reach higher goals than previously thought. Children are benefiting in other subjects as they are now able to more easily access materials. Boys are much more interested in Reading and Writing than before and there is now an ethos of can do in these areas.

The statistical evidence illustrated below is taken from the results and attainment recorded at the end of the 2009 academic year.

The overall impact is that there has been an increase in attainment in the Foundation Stage in CLL and in Key Stage 1 in both Reading and Writing.

Thoughts you think are relevant to overall impact on learning

The impact has been maximised due to the professional nature and dedication of the staff involved. Expectations are clear and there is a clear vision of what is to be achieved. Appropriate resources have been allocated to ensure maiximum impact. This area of development has been well documented as a priority area of the School Development Plan and has clear links to performance management.

Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on learning

"The children are more confident readers and are more able to discuss what they have read. Partner work has improved social skills. I have learnt a lot more about the teaching of phonics and how to develop comprehension and writing skills. I am now much more confident to lead the learning experience." Mrs N Callow TA

"The quality of teaching and learning in both Reading and Writing across the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 has improved and as a result children and staff are much more confident and know how to get the most from their own learning." Mr J Smart Head Teacher

"My confidence to be able to teach reading has increased." Mrs L Johnstone TA

Quantitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • CVA data
  • Data comparison of cohorts
  • Periodic teacher assessment
  • Test results

Qualitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • Learning walks / study visits
  • Observation outcomes
  • Pupils' work

Describe the evidence of impact on pupil learning

The evidence from the quantitative data identfied above shows the following:

Foundation Stage

In Linking sounds and letters end of Foundation Stage profile results show that 63% of children have attained 6 points or more. This signifies a 13% increase from 2008 results.

In Reading, results show that 74% of children have attained 6 points or more. This is an increase of 14% on 2008 results.

Results show that in Writing, 93% of children have attained 6 points or more as compared to 43% in 2008, an increase of 50%.

Results show that 59% of children have attained 6 points or more for all aspects of CLL, an increase of 16% on 2008 results.

This shows that our attainment is above all other comparable groups when compared to 2008 results and therefore signifies outstanding progress in the Foundation Stage.

Key Stage 1

In Key Stage 1, results 2009 show that there is a significant increase in attainment from 2008 to 2009.

In Reading, assessments identify that the Average Points Score of all children in Reading is 16.4, an increase of 3.5 pts on 2008 results.

Assessments for Reading also illustrate that the percentage of children achieving Level 2 at the end of Key Stage 2 has also increased significantly, from 60% in 2008 to 100% in 2009 and increase of 40%. There has also been an increase in the children achieving higher level 2 grades. Results show that the number of children attaining L2b+ has increased from 40% to 87% and Level 2a+ from 23% to 63%. Results show that from being significantly below the national average the impact of intervention has meant that children at Brookvale achieve higher than national averages based on 2008 figures.

Results also show that there has been an improvement in Writing attainment. The APS for writing has increased from 13.0 in 2008 to 15.1 and increase of 2.1 pts. As in Reading 100% of the children achieved level 2 or above in Writing, 60% 2b+, 43% 2a+ and 3% level 3. Again the results show that from below we are now higher than the national average when based on 2008 APS results.

What has been the impact on teaching?

The whole school approach to raising standards in Reading and Writing with particular emphasis on Key Stage 1 standards has meant that the teaching of Reading and Writing has improved. This is particularly the case in Reading. The impact of whole school training and policy has meant that teaching is now more focused on the specific aspects of Reading that therefore lead to accelerated progress in many children. Teachers are now more confident and competent to teaching synthetic phonics and are now able to deliver high quality Guided Reading where comprehension of text has become a priority.

The approaches and initiatives that we have introduced have also meant that teachers and TA's are more accurately meeting the needs of all children and not just groups. Cross year group grouping in Read Write Inc has meant that the Gifted and Talented children in Key Stage 1 can work at their pace and also those children who are finding Reading more difficult can be comfortable in a group where abilities are very similar.

There is a large focus on teacher questioning and pupil participation in lessons and children are very aware of their own learning as a result. Teaching is lively and engaging and children enjoy lessons as a result. Furthermore, because all staff have had the same training it has allowed a complete change of year groups for teachers for 2009 as teachers will be able to comfortably pick up the initiatives that have been introduced without the need for intensive CPD. In this way the improvements that we have seen are completely sustainable.

Evidence of impact on teaching

  • Evidence from observation and monitoring
  • Evidence from planning
  • Teacher perceptions

Describe the evidence of impact on teaching

Having spoken to all staff who are delivering the various Reading and Writing interventions it is obvious that staff are much more confident in the teaching and assessment of Reading and Writing. Teachers expectations have increased of what they can realistically expect the children to achieve and we are beginning to break the link between deprivation and attainment. Planning is thorough and detailed and shows a good understanding of the needs of the children. Observations carried out as part of our monitoring programme have shown that the teaching of Reading and Writing across the whole school but particularly in Key Stage 1 and Foundation is at least good. This is evidenced in the improvements made in both achievement and attainment.

What has been the impact on school organisation and leadership?

The Leadership team have been a key driver in this improvement process as they have regularly monitored the impact of the interventions and dealt with any areas for development that have been identified along the way. Progress and improving standards have been at the heart of this improvement and this is monitored regularly. Teachers have provided regular and constructive feedback that has been used by the Senior leadership Team to continue to drive improvement.

There has also been a larger emphasis on Leadership throughout the school as both teachers and teaching assistants are acutely aware of the accountability they have for the progress being made by the children.

The introduction of these initiatives has had a large impact on the organisation of the timetable to allow each initiative to have full effect. The introduction of Read Write Inc has had the largest effect on organisation as it involves children being grouped based on ability and not age. All children therefore have Literacy at the same time every day so that this grouping can be done across the school. We have also had to utilise every space we have available to ensure that a number of groups can take place. We have been running 9 groups for Read Write Inc every day which means that the hall, corridor spaces, the ICT suite and classrooms are all used to allow Read Write Inc to take place. We have spent a significant amount of budget share on resources and training but this has been money very well spent. Assemblies have had to be re-timetabled and we have also changed the timetable to accommodate Guided Reading sessions that take place separate to Literacy lessons.

The employment of a Reading Recovery teacher has budget implications but this is also money well spent as progress made by children in this initiative has been excellent. The progress made by these children is monitored closely by the teacher, SLT and the authority.

Despite the changes and sacrifices that have been made the results prove that they were certainly worth it and that the improvement will be sustainable.

Evidence of impact on school organisation and leadership

Time table changes, cross year grouping, use of space to accommodate delivery, increased expectation of all staff involved, clearly identified monitoring of delivery and impact. Emphasis on accountability through pupil progress. Leadership team actively monitoring the impact through variety of methods.


What is the crucial thing that made the difference?

The crucial aspect that made the difference is the ability and dedication of the staff team to deliver the different initiatives with confidence and quality. The initiatives that have been introduced would not have had the same effect on standards if the staff were not fully supportive of the aims and objectives or did not have the necessary skill and drive to implement them effectively. The impact of the initiative is highly dependant on the good will, support and skill of the staff delivering it. I must therefore give much of the credit for the impact on standards to the staff. Alongside this the quality of the interventions, particularly Read Write Inc and Reading Recovery has also has a huge influence on success.

What key resources would people who want to learn from your experience need access to?

Read Write Inc information which will give a good overview of the programme and how schools could access the training etc.


Reading Recovery programme.

What CPD session and resources were particularly useful?

2 day Read Write Inc training, CPD training for Reading Recovery teacher and associated Every Child a Reader training given to staff, INSET delivered by Birmingham LA Literacy Consultant.

If another individual or school was attempting to replicate this work, where would they start and what would the essential elements be?

Identfiy the need and establish how they would tackle it. Identify the action points and research and the implementation of each. Ensure that staff are on board and supportive of the approaches particularly ones that mean a drastic change in methodology. Budget for training and resource costs and then go for it. Don't do it in half measures, have the confidence to take a risk and explore a variety of forms of teaching Literacy at Key Stage 1. If any other school is interested in visiting our school to discuss this in more detail or see Guided Reading, Reading Recovery or Read Write Inc in action they are more than welcome.

What further developments are you planning to do (or would you like to see others do)?

We will continue to develop the effective teaching and learning in Reading and Writing in Key Stage 1 to ensure that the improvements made are sustainable. We are now looking at ensuring that children receive the breadth of writing experience in Key Stage 1. We are also looking to accelerate the progress of those children coming off Read Write Inc at high level 2 low level 3 to ensure that these children go onto achieve level 5 at the end of Key Stage 2. Particularly those who come off Read Write Inc at the end of year 2 or beginning of year 3.

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