Ty Sign Primary – Donaldson Readiness
Ty Sign Primary in Risca is a large primary school in the Caerphilly local authority where a third of pupils are eligible for free school meals and approximately 30% have additional learning needs.
What were we asked to support?
In the Summer term of 2016, head teacher Alison Dacey decided the way in which her staff taught in the classroom and supported and collaborated with each other needed to change in line with the newly published Donaldson Report. Alison contacted Impact School Improvement to support her Subject Coordinators and Senior Leaders with a particular focus on raising standards in Literacy and Numeracy across the curriculum.
What did we do?
From June 2016 we worked with the school to create a new staffing structure that reflects the Areas of Learning & Experience together with clearly defined roles and responsibilities documents for all Senior Leaders and Subject Coordinators, as well as a monitoring schedule and policy documents for all subjects. These actions were the first steps towards preparing school structures for the new Curriculum for Wales in line with Donaldson’s 68 recommendations.
Our next step was to support Subject Coordinators for all subjects, including the cross curricular responsibilities of Literacy, Numeracy and DCF to review, to evaluate and rewrite their subject curriculum maps. For Literacy, Numeracy and DCF this meant looking very closely at all school data, both quantitative and qualitative in order to accurately identify whole school skill priorities for development that should appear prominently in the new curriculum maps. This process focussed on addressing the 4 Purposes of the new curriculum. The next step in this process that some subjects have already almost completed is to renew Schemes of Learning for each subject so that they provide a breadth of experiential learning in line with the 12 pedagogical principles of the Donaldson Review.
One of the key priorities for the school was to ensure that the pupil outcomes for Literacy and Numeracy were improved by focussing on quality of teaching and assessment across the entire curriculum. We supported the school to use our step by step diagnostic activities for key Literacy and Numeracy skills, which as confidence grew staff were developing and taking full ownership of in order to embed them in their daily planning and assessment practices. This process was further strengthened by utilising the expertise of the DCF coordinator to link appropriate DCF skills that would enhance the key LNF priorities and enable staff to develop pupils’ abilities in all three cross curricular frameworks in a wide range of subjects and topics. Ensuring that standards in Literacy and Numeracy were being supported by the introduction of the diagnostic activities was crucial, so we further embedded this by encouraging Ty Sign to use their Google Drive to enable a digital exemplification process to moderate and evaluate pupil progress and assess the improvement process for impact.
In response to these strategic improvements Estyn commented in a report on the school’s work published in January of this year:
“A particular strength of the school is the detailed provision now in place to support the progressive development of pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills. Pupils benefit from structured opportunities to apply these skills in relevant and increasingly challenging contexts across the curriculum.”
The changes implemented by the senior leadership team with our support have not only ensured that all staff are using data effectively to plan for improved outcomes but have informed a renewed Teaching & Learning Policy that is now truly a working document and sets out expectations for what the experience of learning should mean for every child.
Next steps for the school
The school has very recently begun a MAT project with our support, looking at Higher Order Reading skills for more able pupils. The focus for this project is providing a consistent, effective MAT identification process in order to develop independent, capable learners who “set themselves high standards, and seek and enjoy challenge”. The long term aim of the project is to embed an understanding of how to progress analytical reading skills across the curriculum that eventually all pupils will benefit from, not just those at the top end of the ability spectrum. As Alison Dacey Headteacher comments:
“We know Literacy is the skill that really makes the difference for our disadvantaged pupils. We’ve introduced some key interventions, but we want to see it from the perspective of mastery. How our most able learners improve should inform how all our learners can be supported to improve. So, this isn’t just ticking that MAT box, but a project aiming to improve the life chances for all our pupils.”
The long term aim of the project is to develop numerical reasoning in a similar way learning from the successes and challenges of the MAT Reading Skills project to ensure success.