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School Improvement: Communication, Language and Literacy Development (CLLD) across Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, North West region

Background

A key focus for improvement for this local authority (LA) in the North West region is progress in, through and out of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), particularly in relation to early language acquisition and early reading. As an LA with a relatively high deprivation index (seventeenth most deprived), narrowing this gap is a challenge. The LA is committed to driving better than average progress in the EYFS in order to consolidate and enhance this progress in subsequent key stages, further improving its existing trajectory of success. There is a particular focus on transition from the EYFS to Key Stage 1.

Approach

In order to address this priority, the LA provided continuing professional development for school improvement officers (SIOs) and school improvement partners (SIPs) that specifically focused on the evaluation of progress in early phonics and reading. Questioning related to the EYFS and Key Stage 1 and the identification of appropriate support and intervention strategies had been included on the termly agendas with schools.

Strategies used included:

  • As a principal focus of SIP autumn and spring visits over a two-year period this has raised expectations through sharper analysis of EYFS Profile data and assessment in Year 1.
  • A ‘sweep’ of practice in the teaching of early phonics and reading was carried out by SIOs and SIO/SIPs – this fed into an LA-wide ‘Review of early reading’ in spring 2008.
  • Recommendations included in-service training for all schools and the establishment of ‘non-negotiables’ for the teaching of phonics.
  • Some discrepancies between headteacher perceptions of practice and findings of the review were clearly articulated and shared with schools.
  • Structured training packages have been provided for teaching staff and support staff in early phonics teaching.
  • In schools, at meetings with SIPs and SIOs, the evaluation of the impact of training and the implementation of the recommendations are carried out each term.
  • SIOs validate termly assessments of progress of children in the EYFS.
  • Implications for change to Year 1 teaching and learning programmes are discussed with schools (SIPs/SIOs).
  • SIP reports’ analysis feeding into and informing deployment of consultant and intervention support.

A particular strength of this LA is the way that, since 2007, the work of the SIPs and SIOs has been woven together: the evaluation of one feeding into the work and support in schools of the other. There is now an increasingly embedded three-way partnership (schools as the third partner) being established. The interplay of the two LA roles – SIP and SIO, has been crucial to this.