Making literacy and numeracy a priority

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Making literacy and numeracy a priority

Eveswell Primary School, Newport, has worked hard to raise pupils’ standards of literacy and numeracy. Teachers are trained how to successfully implement the national literacy and numeracy frameworks. Staff review all schemes of work to ensure complete coverage and progression for pupils.

Number of pupils: 508
Age range: 3 - 11 years
Date of Estyn inspection: January 2014

Context and background to sector-leading practice

Eveswell Primary School is a large county primary school near the city centre in Newport. There are 508 pupils on roll, between the ages of three and eleven years. Around 12% of pupils are in receipt of free school meals. Nineteen different languages are spoken in the school and 32% of pupils are identified as having English as an additional language. Almost 14% of pupils are on the special needs register. Our mission statement is ‘Inspire, Achieve, Respect’ and it permeates everything we do.

The implementation of the national literacy and numeracy frameworks has been a main priority in our school improvement plans since September 2012. Although we already had high standards in English and mathematics, we wanted the cross-curricular implementation of literacy and numeracy skills to be an effective means to further raise standards for all our pupils.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

We used the draft literacy and numeracy frameworks as a starting point for discussion. It was clear that all staff would need a programme of support and training to effectively implement the requirements of the frameworks in a progressive way throughout the school. The headteacher adapted the training materials on the Learning Wales website and delivered this training on two training days for all members of staff. She also arranged training by the local consortium literacy and numeracy advisers during staff meetings.

We then asked staff to identify where they were already giving pupils opportunities to apply their skills in foundation subjects. To do this they needed to use the frameworks to match the skills to work they were already doing. This enabled staff to look at whether the level of skills they were addressing across the curriculum were appropriate and to question how and when the skills were taught beforehand. We quickly recognised that there were gaps in our application of some skills which were being practised across each key stage; for example in numeracy, pupils often used graphs but spent less time on extracting information from tables. We asked staff to focus on increasing opportunities for consolidating aspects of numeracy in particular.

We already had schemes of work in place and these had previously been reviewed to include subject skills and some literacy and numeracy skills.

It was important for us to adapt our teaching in all subjects to focus more on the literacy and numeracy skills from the frameworks as a main learning objective. In changing the emphasis in this way we saw clearly that we needed to completely review all schemes of work to address the needs of the literacy and numeracy frameworks. Staff meetings and in-service training days were used for all teaching and support staff to work in groups to rewrite or amend schemes of work. This involved time spent in year groups and then sharing progress as a whole staff, with pairs of co-ordinators taking a final overview of each subject. When the draft literacy and numeracy frameworks were finalised, we made further adjustments. Through a process of trial and error, we continued to use and amend our schemes and planning formats to focus on the skills required, whilst also aiming to ensure continuity, progression and coverage of all the necessary skills. We mapped where the skills were taught in English and maths schemes and where they were practised across the wider curriculum. This provided us with an overview of skills development. We could then show staff exactly where and when skills were to be taught and where they were being applied, ensuring complete coverage and progression.

From September 2013 we were able to implement all the revised schemes of work. This provided staff with a detailed plan for literacy and numeracy across all subjects. Schemes of work identify literacy and numeracy skills in both topic and discrete units of work. Teachers are now able to amend the content or context of any lesson as long as the skills being developed remain. In this way we continue to improve lessons and topics in order to further enrich our curriculum or respond to pupils’ ideas. Teachers use the literacy and numeracy frameworks to differentiate the skills identified where necessary, dipping into the previous year group or the one above to meet the needs of different groups of learners.

We are now creating a portfolio exemplifying the features of writing skills across the curriculum to support existing and new members of staff in maintaining our high standards.

Our pupil voice group is monitoring the use of numeracy skills across other subjects. The members are making suggestions as to how we can further enrich the lessons in our schemes of work in order to provide new exciting and meaningful opportunities to develop numeracy skills. Analysis of national literacy and numeracy tests has also identified areas for additional focus in our revised schemes of work.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

It very quickly became evident that the opportunities for pupils to apply their cross-curricular skills had increased enormously, particularly in numeracy.

Through sharing the literacy and numeracy skills as learning objectives in every session, pupils recognise that the skills they have been learning in English and mathematics can be practised in other lessons and they are able to identify the skills they need to use better. Success criteria and self and peer evaluation is linked to literacy and numeracy skills and pupils assess their own progress and ‘next steps’.

Regular monitoring of pupils’ books has shown us that our pupils are using a wide variety of literacy and numeracy skills at an appropriate level in all subjects. Teachers use a mixture of project-based work and discrete units of work to provide suitable contexts to develop these skills. They have a very detailed knowledge of the frameworks and are confident in planning for the development of literacy and numeracy. They are now using the frameworks and the pupils’ work to assess pupils’ individual progress in their ability to apply these skills.

There is now good evidence of high standards of literacy and numeracy skills being applied in meaningful contexts in pupils’ work and in classroom displays.

Standards of literacy and numeracy have improved further as a result of a thorough and detailed approach to the teaching and application of skills across subjects.