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Raising literacy levels in overlooked school year groups

Leeds Beckett University is helping raise the English standards of pupils in year groups sometimes overlooked by schools.

Literacy in the classroom

Reading and writing are a key focus for all primary and secondary schools as they aim to increase literacy levels - but schools frequently target specific year groups for exam support and extra intervention as pupils approach crucial exams.

Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Education has been working with key partners to evaluate an on-going project aimed at increasing the achievements of pupils in years four and five in primary school, and year eight in secondary school. Under the Government’s current testing system, these year groups can be seen as lower priority because they do not sit statutory tests.

In total, 10 schools in Bradford and North Yorkshire are taking part in the programme, with a focus on literacy in subjects including history, science and geography.

Professor Jonathan Glazzard, who leads the project for Leeds Beckett, said: “Literacy is an essential skill for pupils not only in English, but to enable them to engage in the whole curriculum.

“We are particularly interested in evaluating the knowledge and skills that teachers gain through the project and whether these will be sustained in the future.”

The university has joined forces with Northern Lights Teaching School Alliance and Dixons Teaching School Alliance to examine how to raise standards in reading and writing.

The partnership, which also includes North Yorkshire Council and Bradford Research School, aims to provide early intervention to help targeted pupils with communication challenges to achieve their targets.

Kate Walter, Northern Lights Teaching School Director, said: “We know from the evidence that developing students’ communication skills is key to their academic success and therefore to their life chances.

“This collaborative work across Bradford and North Yorkshire will support teachers in developing strategies that will develop literacy within their subjects. “ 

The joint scheme supports teachers and school leaders when drawing up and delivering reading and writing lessons.

Besides aiming to raise pupils’ literacy levels, the project also addresses teacher development. Each participating teacher is coached by a leading practitioner with the aim of improving lesson planning and test scores.

The Carnegie School of Education will provide assessment and data analysis throughout the project, which spans five school terms. The results will be sent to the Department for Education in spring 2019.

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