May 29, 2011
What were your reasons for doing this type of development work?
The project was conceived in response to the national focus following the Rose Review, and reflected priorities identified locally to improve standards in communication, language and literacy (CLL) in the Foundation Stage and literacy at Key Stage 1.
The purpose of the project was to develop teaching and learning in the daily discrete phonics teaching session and also the application of these and other skills in guided reading and writing. An overall goal of the project was to increase the numbers of pupils who can meet the expectations as identified in the new phonics resource ‘Letters and Sounds’, and to increase the numbers of children who become confident, independent readers and writers in the Foundation Stage and Year 1.
Who might find this case study useful?
Support staff Head of school improvement Headteacher Middle leader National Strategies consultant Senior leadership team (SLT) SIP (School Improvement Partner) Subject leader Teacher
To use Letters and Sounds to develop teaching and learning in the daily discrete phonics session and application beyond
To increase the numbers of children who become confident independent readers and writers in foundation stage and Year 1
Author: Sandra Murchison Co-author: Rebecca Cosgrave
School or setting
12 out of 14 schools in Devon responded to the invitation.
Type of school:
Type of setting (if Early Years):
LA maintained school
Accelerating progress, Developing subject leadership, Evaluating impact, Learning and teaching, Learning environment, Pupil tracking, Raising Attainment plans
Early Years, Year 1, Year 2
Below age-related expectation, At age-related expectation, Above age-related expectation
Support staff, LA adviser, Senior leader, Teacher
Number of classes:
Number of adult learners:
What specific curriculum area, subject or aspect did you intend to have impact on?
Communication, language and literacy English - reading English - speaking and listening English - writing
How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?
By developing staff subject knowledge and pedagogy through collaborative working.
By enabling teachers to implement the new phonics resource ‘Letters and Sounds’ through support with planning, modelling classroom practice, pace, assessment and using the learning environment. There was to be particular emphasis on application of phonics skills and knowledge in guided reading and writing and across the wider curriculum.
By developing the use of phonic tracker sheets and assessment materials, to enable teachers to identify those children performing within, below or above age related expectation and better meet the learning needs of these individuals or groups.
By developing independence in reading and writing in the project classes, so enabling children to problem solve unfamiliar words, using the knowledge and skills acquired. This would increase confidence in reading and enable confident, plausible attempts in writing.
By encouraging the project schools to raise awareness of phonics teaching and learning and share expertise within the school community.
By supporting schools to develop work with parents to enhance children’s literacy learning.
What were your success criteria?
Increased attainment in communication, language and literacy development (CLLD) linking Sounds and Letters and Key Stage 1 assessment in reading and writing
To increase the number of pupils working at age-related expectations, as expressed in Letters and Sounds
Pupils to use strategies for decoding and encoding confidently and independently, in line with age-related expectation
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?
Observation outcomes Periodic teacher assessment Pupils' work
What did you do? What teaching approaches (pedagogy) did you use to achieve the intended impact?
Assessment for Learning (AfL) Cross-curricular work Independent learning Problem solving Use of pupil talk for whole-class teaching
Describe the teaching approaches you used
Over two terms, 14 schools were invited to take part in the project, of which 12 accepted. Two teachers from each school attended a launch day and headteachers were also invited. Supply costs were paid for the launch days and days when consultants were working in the schools. £200 per school was also supplied for resources.
The structure of the project was:
a consultant to work one day a week in school, for up to 10 weeks
consultants to support two class teachers in at least two year groups
schools to complete an audit and action plan with consultant support
schools to complete an evaluation at the end of the project.
The role of the teachers involved was:
to be prepared to change practice and take risks
to implement Letters and Sounds
to develop guided reading and writing
to identify focus for further development in working with parents.
The role of the consultants involved was:
to be prepared to change practice and take risks
to support teachers through planning and teaching alongside
to support teachers with subject knowledge and expectations.
On the launch day, schools updated the CLL audit and had initial discussions with their consultant.
During the first school visit, classroom observations took place in both classes, focusing on phonics teaching and learning, interaction of teachers and pupils and learning environment. This informed further additions to the CLL audit. The teachers and consultants completed phonics tracking sheets for each class and constructed a project action plan, setting out objectives for the project and targets for each class involved.
Using the Letters and Sounds programme, the following week’s phonics sessions were planned and agreement was reached about what collaborative working would take place, eg. consultant modelling session. This flexible style of working was used each week of the project, so that support was provided where required.
Throughout the project, emphasis was placed on the Rose Report recommendations of what constitutes high quality phonic work:
it is part of a broad and language rich curriculum
for most children it starts by the age of five
it is multi-sensory
it is time limited
it is systematic
it is taught discretely and daily at a brisk pace
it provides opportunities to reinforce and apply knowledge and skills
teachers monitor and assess children’s progress.
To meet these, consultants and teachers shared good practice, planning discrete, brisk sessions, using a variety of activities and resources to engage the children.
Consultants modelled phonics sessions, shared reading and writing and guided work, as well as use of role play area and other independent learning opportunities (the enabling environment). The necessity of modelling application of skills for pupils was given a high focus.
Assessment for learning and formative assessment strategies were a strong part of the project, with observations of children applying skills and knowledge being noted by all adults in the classroom whenever they occurred throughout the day.
The learning environment was developed in many of the project schools, with a particular focus on application of phonics within the role play area. Role play sequences were developed linking the relevant phases of the programme with literacy and cross curricular work being undertaken by the classes.
During the last visit the consultants and teachers updated phonics tracker sheets, evaluated the impact of the project and considered the school’s future action including sharing with wider school community.
Example of project action plan completed for the first three weeks Example of Phase 3 planning sheet Validated
What did you do? What approaches to CPD and learning for adults were used?
Demonstration Learning conversation Lesson observation Mentoring Modelling Partnership teaching Training
Describe the CPD approaches you used
Training and learning conversations were held on the launch day. Input on the aims of the project, Rose Review recommendations, guided work and development of parental involvement were provided in the morning, with time for discussions around practice, individual classes and teachers’ questions and concerns in the afternoon.
Each week involved a variety of approaches, dependent upon the requirements of the different teachers. Modelling, demonstration, partnership teaching and learning conversations were an integral part of the project.
We developed teachers' confidence in planning, teaching and assessment by providing a variety of materials and resources based on the Letters and Sounds programme, but developed within Devon. (Resources on Devon Education Services Literacy website: http://www.deseducation.org/literacy)
In some schools, consultants ran initial training on Letters and Sounds and phonic subject knowledge for additional Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1 teachers and teaching assistants and also Key Stage 2 teachers and teaching assistants (in order to support those children working below age related expectation in Key Stage 2).
What CPD materials, research or expertise have you drawn on?
Letters and Sounds - Ref: 00282-2007BKT-EN
Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading Final report: Jim Rose March 2006
Purchase of additional resources, eg magnetic boards, mnemonic cards, guided reading books
Thrass magnetic grapheme sets
Rigby Star Phonics
Big Cat Phonics
Related National Strategies resources:
Every Child a Reader (ECaR) (See links on right of screen for all pages)
Early Reading Curriculum CPD Resources
Using Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP) and the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) in Key Stage 1
Letters and Sounds: Principles and practice of high quality phonics
Who provided you with support?
Local authority staff
How were you supported?
National Strategies standards funding
Regional Advisor for Literacy – monitoring visits
What has been the overall impact on pupil learning?
increased confidence of children in reading and writing
increased motivation and engagement in sessions and when reading and writing across the curriculum
children are choosing to read and write more in their child-directed activities, using phonic skills and knowledge, for example, counting phonemes on fingers or using robot arms
children are noticing print more in their environment
children are supporting each other more in independent writing, rather than relying on adults in classroom.
Thoughts you think are relevant to overall impact on learning
The structure of the sessions (revisit and review, teach, practise, apply) and the pace have been an important factor in the impact on learning. The explicit teach part of the session has involved children in their own learning, rather than them just undertaking a phonics game. Where this explicit teaching has been linked with children’s learning across the curriculum and opportunities planned in to provide practice, children have been able to consolidate decoding and encoding skills.
Providing a rich learning environment, with plenty of opportunities to engage with reading and writing, has led to increased motivation and enjoyment for pupils. Tasks and activities linking phonics to the role play area have been particularly successful in encouraging children to apply their skills and knowledge with increasing independence.
Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on learning
Quote from a project teacher regarding comments made to the school office staff from the School Nurse: She came into school for the children's first school medical this week and normally dreads coming to (School X) as the children never know the letters for the sight test. This time however, they all knew all of the letters! She was very impressed! Isn't it great that people from outside can see the improvements!
Quantitative evidence of impact on pupil learning
Data comparison of cohorts Periodic teacher assessment
Qualitative evidence of impact on pupil learning
Observation outcomes Pupils' work
Describe the evidence of impact on pupil learning
Teacher observations/evaluations indicate that in reading:
children have increased confidence
children are choosing to read in free time
are making good use of phonics
target children are more engaged
children are more aware of print in the environment
parents are more aware of how they can help children at home
children are progressing well through the bookbands
children are selecting to read in the role play areas
children are wanting to read in class
children are independently choosing more challenging independent reading books
children are more willing too read at home.
Teacher observations/evaluations indicate that in writing:
independent writing in progress books shows progression for all pupils
children are positive about writing and prepared to ‘have a go’
children are supporting each other more
phonic strategy is more apparent in independent writing
parents are reporting children keener to write at home
children are choosing writing activities independently in the classroom
children are making more plausible spelling attempts in independent writing
letter formation is more accurate
children are using a wider range of vocabulary
children are demonstrating taught phonic skills independently, for example, counting phonemes on fingers.
CLLD data shows improvement in achievement and attainment, please refer to the related information document called 'Comparison of CLL data from project schools 2007 and 2008' on the summary page.
What has been the impact on teaching?
more confidence in planning, teaching and assessment
increased pace, over time and within sessions
increased subject knowledge
assessment for learning used to inform planning on daily basis
teacher expectations raised, particularly around January intake, mixed age and whole key stage classes
expertise shared throughout school with other teachers and teaching assistants
use of electronic resources developing
learning environment being used for teaching and application.
Thoughts you think are relevant to impact on teaching
One of the most effective strategies when planning was to keep it simple. In order to maintain the pace, economy with words is necessary, but every word needs to be chosen for maximum impact. Similarly, every word should count in the apply session when choosing a sentence for blending and segmenting.
Using assessment to plan the revisit and review activity for the next day has enabled teachers to target teaching to learning needs. Equally, the balance of blending or segmenting activities during the week can be tailored to pupil needs.
In literacy sessions, children need to see enough modelling of writing, with the whole process made explicit and choices justified.
Book choice for guided reading sessions within phases 2 and 3 should include some good quality phonics readers, so that children have opportunity to blend grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) taught to that point for themselves.
Teachers were often surprised at the progress made by Reception children in their first term. This has challenged beliefs about what the children are able to do at that stage and has led to raised expectations of pupil achievement.
The intensity of consultant support in schools (residency model) had a significant impact on the depth and quality of change.
Evidence of impact on teaching
Evidence from observation and monitoring Evidence from planning Improvements in curriculum documentation Teacher perceptions
Describe the evidence of impact on teaching
Teachers evaluated how the project had impacted on their own practice, considering - changes in organisation, planning, teaching and assessment:
working with colleagues
development of resources.
Their comments include:
the Devon planning sheet had really helped
they were more careful with planning of phonics
their phonics sessions had increased in pace
their subject knowledge and confidence had increased
they were encouraging children to write earlier
they were developing and improving resources for phonics
their teaching assistants were receiving CPD through observation
other colleagues were having opportunities to observe, so impacting on practice beyond early years
they were linking literacy planning to phases of phonics.
What has been the impact on school organisation and leadership?
The project has increased awareness of Early Reading amongst the school leadership teams and colleagues in Key Stage 2.
Some schools have plans to develop models of parental involvement.
Thoughts you think are relevant to overall impact on school organisation and leadership
It is vital that school leadership teams are aware of the criteria for high quality phonics teaching and engage with Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1 teams to develop practice. Continuing professional development (CPD) should be available for all staff and links fostered with parents and carers to enhance children’s literacy learning.
It is important for teachers and teaching assistants to have time to work together within and across classes and year groups, so that practice can be constantly reflected upon and developed.
Evidence of impact on school organisation and leadership
From discussions, members of school leadership are more involved in and have more knowledge of early reading teaching and learning in Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1.
What is the crucial thing that made the difference?
The crucial aspect of this project was the model of collaborative working. Teachers and consultants were taking risks together to implement the programme in the most effective way possible. Expertise was shared, but time was provided to build on this and develop practice.
What key resources would people who want to learn from your experience need access to?
funding for release time for consultants and teachers to work together
identified staff in schools for duration of project
resources on Devon Education Services Literacy website: http://www.deseducation.org/literacy
Letters and Sounds - Ref: 00282-2007BKT-EN: http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/local/clld/las.html .
What CPD session and resources were particularly useful?
timetabled support from literacy consultants
timetabled opportunities to work collaboratively with consultants and across classes
training on Letters and Sounds for staff, with subject knowledge input where necessary
use of resources prepared by schools which had taken part in the pilot study of Letters and Sounds.
If another individual or school was attempting to replicate this work, where would they start and what would the essential elements be?
Contact their LA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What further developments are you planning to do (or would you like to see others do)?
We plan to:
develop this model of support and work collaboratively on more projects over the next year
provide universal training on phases 5 and 6 for Year 1 and Year 2 teachers
develop the phonics resources on our website, in response to teacher request ( http://www.deseducation.org/literacy)
identify lead teachers from previous project schools to support development of Letters and Sounds in other schools in a similar way.
Comparison of CLL data from project schools 2007 and 2008 Example of project action plan completed for first three weeks Example of Phase 3 planning sheet Case study status
Rachel Britton Related case studies
The CLLD programme in Langley Primary School CLLD at Perryfields Primary School, Sandwell A whole-school approach to phonics Phonics: Real impact on language, reading and writing in EYFS and Key Stage 1 Increasing children's engagement in independent reading and writing in the Early Years Raising attainment in writing in Foundation Stage
dc.title Early Reading and phonics project: Letters and Sounds in practice dc.identifier nsonline.org.uk~370496~246502 dc.subject Case study, English and Literacy, Good practice, Listening, Phonics, School improvement, Speaking, Writing, Administrative and support staff, Case study, Communication, language and literacy, Communication, language and literacy, Early Reading, Education and skills, Effective practice, English, Foundation Stage, Foundation Stage, Head of school improvement, Headteacher, Key stage 1, Key Stage 1, Literacy, Local Education Authority (LEA), Middle leader, National Strategies consultant, Phonics, Reception, Senior leader, Senior leadership team (SLT), SIP (School Improvement Partner), South West, Subject leader, Teacher, What Works Well, WWW Case study, Year 1, Year 2, , , , , , , , , , dc.date 2009-11-04 10:43:49