No Excuses! Schools in Deprived Areas Produce Outstanding Results with Dedicated Decoding and Book Culture

DfE: COMPARE SCHOOLS PERFORMANCE (Reading) 2017, 2018, 2019

With a few exceptions, the list below is limited to top-performing schools in deprived areas of England, selected from the 100 best-performing schools in Year 6. Minimum reading score in 2019 is set here at 110 with the average for the 20,000+ primary schools being 105. Selection is limited to schools with a minimum of 20 pupils. Nearly all schools listed use one of three synthetic phonics programmes – Letters and Sounds, Jolly Phonics, Read Write Inc. Schools with a deprived intake often compare favourably with those with a largely middle-class intake.

Website information indicates that the overwhelming majority of schools listed have benefited from systematic synthetic phonics foundations. However, a minority have also included controversial teaching elements; in rare occasions it appears that outliers such as Reading Recovery or Discovery Learning can be effective. Overwhelming evidence-based research and the fall in literacy rates in the US, New Zealand, Finland and Wales, for instance, suggest that failure is a far more common outcome. ‘Holistic’ and progressive methods of teaching reading need to be treated with great caution.

New City Primary, Newham, London. Yr 6 88 pupils. Reading Scores 107, 110, 112
Programmes: Jolly Phonics, augmented by Bug Club online programme
By end KS2 disadvantaged children in top 20%

Boutcher, Southwark, London. Yr 6 31 pupils. Reading Scores 112, 110, 111
Programmes: Jolly Phonics and Letters and Sounds

Vickerstown, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Yr 6 25 pupils. Reading Scores 109, 110, 111
Programmes inc: Oxford Reading Tree, Ros Wilson Big Writing, Nelson Handwriting
‘Where possible, English skills taught within a meaningful context.’

St Antony’s RC, Newham, London. Yr 6 62 pupils, 17 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 114, 113, 114
Programme: Read Write Inc

St Thomas a Becket RC, Greenwich, London Yr 6 29 pupils, c.40% disadvantaged
Reading Scores 109, 109, 114
Programme: Read Write Inc, books changed 3 times a week

Perry Court, Bristol. Yr 6 47 pupils, 29 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 104, 107, 111
Programmes inc: Letters and Sounds + BRP for SEN literacy
‘From worst school in Bristol to best in 2 years’

Lea Forest, Birmingham. Yr 6 60 pupils, 44 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 101, 106, 110
Programme: Letters and Sounds + Bug Club, Accelerated Reader
Info re phonics & PSC for parents

‘Reading for pleasure is the single best indicator of a child’s academic success’ – OECD

Henderson Green, Norfolk. Yr 6 30 pupils, 15 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 94, 104, 110
‘Parent support advisor working full-time. Coffee room, drop in.’

Marshfield, Bradford, Yorks. Yr 6 60 pupils, 20 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 101, 105, 110
Website not responding

St Edmund’s, Tower Hamlets, London. Yr 6 25 pupils. Reading Scores 110, 112, 112
Website not responding

Bill Quay, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, Yr 6 31 pupils, 8 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 108, 106, 112
Programme: Read Write Inc
Promote love of reading throughout school

Wainstalls, Halifax, Yorks. Yr 6 26 pupils, 5 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 110, 110, 111
Programme: Letters and Sounds augmented by Read Write Inc
Top School in Calderdale at KS2

Berkswich CoE, Stafford. Yr 6 34 pupils, disadvantaged 0. Reading Scores 115, 112, 112
Programme: Letters and Sounds augmented by Jolly Phonics, and Big Cat Phonics
‘Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day, not only develop greater reading skills than those who do not, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.’ In addition to ensuring firm phonics foundations, school advises parents to ‘feel free to try reading different high-frequency words at home’ and encourages ‘tactile phonics’ learning in EY via ‘play-doh, pipe cleaners, writing on window, use a fly swat to splat words’ etc.
Recommended Reading

St Theresa’s RC, Oldham, Lancs. Yr 6 28 pupils, 17 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 101, 108, 110
Phonics Programme: Website ‘details to be added soon.’
‘The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) data suggests that the proportion of pupils living in the 10% most deprived LSOAs is substantially higher than the Oldham primary school average. In fact, based on the IMD data where 30.4% of Oldham Primary School pupils live in the 10% most deprived areas, 58.1% of pupils at St. Theresa’s R.C. live in similarly deprived areas.’

The Russell School, Rickmansworth, Herts. Yr 6 22 pupils. 0 disadvantaged.
Reading Scores 109, 110, 115
‘Tables show that out of all the schools in Hertfordshire (481 schools), we are: 1st for reading progress, 1st for maths progress, 1st for the percentage of our pupils achieving greater depth in reading, writing and maths combined, 1st in scaled scores for reading, maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling.’
Phonics Programmes: LCP/Letters and Sounds + ‘materials drawn from wide range of schemes inc. Rigby Star, and ORT.’

New Horizons Ch. Academy, Chatham, Kent. Yr 6 37 pupils. Reading Scores -, -, 112
Phonics Programme: Letters and Sounds with Monster Phonics, Oxford Banded Books, a ‘Thinking School’ inc. DeBono’s Thinking Hats etc

Orchard School, Streatham, London. Yr 6 25 pupils (Muslim), 15 disadvantaged.
Reading Scores 108, 106, 112

Nailsworth, Stroud, Glos. Yr 6 25 pupils. 8 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 110, 110, 112
Phonics Programme: Letters and Sounds +Forest School. Guided Reading daily.
Top 1% for progress

Silloth, Wigton, Cumbria. Yr 6 20 pupils, 4 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 107, 107, 112
Phonics Programme: Oxford Reading Tree, supplemented with banded books ‘to broaden experience’
Pupil Premium funds for ‘high quality Phonics training for all KS2 staff’

Thomas Jones, Kensington, London. Yr 6 29 pupils, 16 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 112, 111, 111
Phonics Programme: Jolly Phonics with Pearson Bug Club. Noted for high quality, ambitious reading programmes throughout school

Applegarth, Croydon. Yr 6 61 pupils. 46 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 106, 113, 110
Phonics Programme: Success for All (SFA) grouped by ability, assessed every 2-3 weeks. Stated expectations, clearly laid out, detailed description.

St Cuthbert’s RC, Windermere. Yr 6 28 pupils, 2 disadvantaged. Website in transition. Reading Scores 107, 112, 112

St Joseph’s RC, Yr 6 25 pupils, 8 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 107, 106, 112
Phonics Programmes: Letters and Sounds, Rigby Star, Big Cat Phonics, KS2 Destination Reader

Holmleigh, Hackney. Yr 6 30 pupils, Pupil Premium c.39%. Reading Scores 103, 108, 111
Phonics Programme: difficult to locate relevant information with exception of BugClub Home Reading Programme

Riverley, Walton Forest, London. Yr 6 55 pupils. 20 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 107, 109, 111
Phonics Programmes: information lacking on website

Bailey Green, North Tyneside. Yr 6 64 pupils. 17 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 106, 103, 111
Phonics Programme: Jolly Phonics with ORT

St Mark’s CE, Stockton-on-Tees. Yr 6 45 pupils, 14 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 104, 109, 110
Little information on Phonics: ‘read 2 decodable books a week’ and choose a ‘challenging reader’

Newcomen, Redcar and Cleveland. Yr 6 46 pupils. 15 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 108, 107, 111
No website

The Orion School, London NW7. Yr 6 91 pupils. Reading Scores 107, 108, 111
Website: nothing relevant on website except ‘read at least 10 mins a day’ with parent.

Iqra, Clapham, London. Yr 6 29 pupils, 16 disadvantaged, 26 EAL. Reading Scores 110, 110, 111
Muslim affiliation. No information on website.

Mayflower School, Tower Hamlets, London. Yr 6 50 pupils, 30 disadvantaged, 47 EAL.
Reading Scores 107, 114, 114
Literacy rich curriculum with storytelling ‘at the heart of the school. Children hear stories which are then learnt orally, deepened through a variety of creative activities. By time they leave pupils will know 48 stories really well.’ Author visits, book launches for parents. 2 Reading Recovery teachers. Accelerated reading. Teachers, TAs, local visiting business partners also give children 1-to-1 reading support. 97% pass rate in PSC.
Average score in England 2019 is 104. Mayflower, with over 60% disadvantaged children, has average score of 114.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Brent, London. Yr 6 26 pupils, 9 disadvantaged, 23 EAL. Reading Scores 106, 102, 110
Website: No information on phonics/further reading/literacy.

Staindrop CoE, Darlington, NE. Yr 6 28 pupils, 6 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 110, 111, 113
‘Reading daily using either flashcards or green/red words to practice. Books changed 3 times a week.’

Bevington, London W10. Yr 6 44 pupils, 26 disadvantaged, 27 EAL. Reading Scores 114, 111, 113
Phonics Programmes: Letters and Sounds and Read Write Inc, including modelling reading, guided reading, reading lists – more information

Redesdale, North Tyneside. Yr 6 25 pupils, 5 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 106, 101, 110
Phonics Programme: scant information, including Yrs 2-6 Read Write Inc Spelling 15 mins daily. ORT reading + ‘real books’

Egglescliffe CoE, Durham. Yr 6 29 pupils, 5 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 104, 109, 110
Phonics Programme: detailed phonics teaching but no information on specific programme adopted. ORT book scheme + 13 other decodable schemes

New Seaham Academy, Durham. Yr 6 37 pupils, 7 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 108, 109, 110
Phonics Programme: Read Write Inc. With wide range of decodable books inc ORT, Songbirds, Rigby Star, Project X

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