An exploration of how schools with significant numbers of disadvantaged children achieve high literacy results – FINAL UPDATE

DfE COMPARE SCHOOLS PERFORMANCE 2017, 2018, 2019 SATs 2 Reading

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. When phonic foundations are secure, combined with a strong book culture, schools with deprived intake often compare very favourably with those with a largely middle-class intake. Minimum reading score in 2019 is set at 110 (the average score for the 20,000+ primary schools is 104). Selection has been limited to schools with a minimum of 20 pupils in Year 6. There are also very large schools in deprived areas gaining impressive results, e.g. Elmhurst, Newham (Read Write Inc) with over 1000 pupils and 30+ first languages, that fall just below the arbitrary cut off score of 110.

Nearly all schools listed use one of three synthetic phonics programmes – Letters and Sounds, Jolly Phonics, Read Write Inc. Two have chosen controversial teaching approaches; although occasionally effective there is overwhelming evidence-based research – including the fall in literacy rates in the US and NZ – that failure is a far more common outcome than reading success for Reading Recovery. It contravenes Synthetic Phonics instruction and is extremely expensive. However, the headquarters of Reading Recovery are based at the Institute of Education; until that anomaly is confronted head-on, young students will continue to be trained by means of this largely Whole Language approach. It is a major contributor in the US to the ‘fourth grade slump’. Discovery Learning – ‘holistic’ and progressive methods of teaching – has also been the choice of one school. It can, in rare cases, be successful but needs to be treated with great caution.

New City Primary, Newham, London. Yr6 88 pupils. Disadvantaged 27. Reading Scores 107, 110, 112 (By end KS2 disadvantaged children in top 20%.)

Programmes: Jolly Phonics, augmented by Bug Club online programme, Letters & Sounds, PhonicsPlay.

Letter_to_parents_and_carers_about_online_phonics_lessons.pdf

‘Phonics is the way we teach children to recognise the sounds in words. It helps your child to learn to read and is an essential part of your child’s education. During the summer term, you will be able to access for your child a daily phonics lesson by clicking on Letters and Sounds for home and school.’ Covid19 homeschooling

Boutcher, Southwark, London. Yr6 31 pupils. Disadvantaged 7. Reading Scores 112, 110, 111

Programme: Jolly Phonics. Excellent book list for Reception. Much emphasis on reading to children

Vickerstown, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Yr6 25 pupils. Disadvantaged 8. Reading Scores 109, 110, 111

Programmes inc: Oxford Reading Tree, Ros Wilson Big Writing.

Where possible, English skills taught within a meaningful context.’

St Antony’s RC, Newham, London. Yr6 62 pupils. Disadvantaged 17. Reading Scores 114, 113, 114

Programme: Read Write Inc.

St Thomas a Becket RC, Greenwich, London. Yr6 29 pupils. Disadvantaged 11. Reading Scores 109, 109, 114.

Programme: Read Write Inc. ‘Books changed 3 times a week.’

Perry Court, Bristol. Yr6 47 pupils. Disadvantaged 29. Reading Scores 104, 107, 111

Programme inc. Letters and Sounds + BRP for SEN literacy.

‘From worst school in Bristol to best in 2 years.’

Lea Forest, Birmingham. Yr6 60 pupils. Disadvantaged 44. Reading Scores 101, 106, 110

Programme: Letters and Sounds + Bug Club, Accelerated Reader.

Librarian (req. ‘Log in’). Info re phonics & PSC for parents.

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

Henderson Green, Norfolk. Yr6 30 pupils. Disadvantaged 15. Reading Scores 94, 104, 110

‘Parent support advisor working full-time. Coffee room, drop in.’

Marshfield, Bradford, Yorks. Yr6 60 pupils. Disadvantaged 20. Reading Scores 101, 105, 110

Website not available (Domain name for sale).

Bill Quay, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Yr6 31 pupils. Disadvantaged 8. Reading Scores 108, 106, 112

Programme: Read Write Inc.

‘Promote love of reading throughout school.’

Wainstalls, Halifax, Yorks. Yr6 26 pupils. Disadvantaged 5. Reading Scores 110, 110, 111

Programme: Letters and Sounds augmented by Read Write Inc.

Top School in Calderdale at KS2.

[Berkswich CE, Stafford. Yr6 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.]

[The Russell School, Rickmansworth, Herts. Yr6 22 pupils. Disadvantaged 0. Reading Scores 109, 110, 115

Programmes: Letters and Sounds, LCP, Phonics Play: + ‘materials drawn from wide range of schemes inc. Rigby Star, and ORT.’

‘Tables show that out of all the schools in Hertfordshire (481 schools), we are: 

1st for reading progress1st 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.’]

New Horizons Ch. Academy, Chatham, Kent. Yr6 37 pupils. Reading Scores -, -, 112

Programme: Letters and Sounds with Monster Phonics, Oxford Banded Books, a ‘Thinking School’ inc. DeBono’s Thinking Hats etc.

Orchard School, Streatham, London. Yr6 25 pupils (Muslim), Disadvantaged 15. Reading Scores 108, 106, 112

No information on website re phonics programme etc.

Nailsworth, Stroud, Glos. Yr6 25 pupils. Disadvantaged 8. Reading Scores 110, 110, 112

Programme: Letters and Sounds + Forest School. Guided Reading daily.

Top 1% for progress

Silloth, Wigton, Cumbria. Yr6 20 pupils. Disadvantaged 8. Reading Scores 107, 107, 112

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. Yr6 29 pupils. Disadvantaged 16. Reading Scores 112, 111, 111

Programme: Jolly Phonics with Pearson Bug Club. Noted for high quality, ambitious reading programmes throughout the school.

Outstandingly informative website.

Applegarth, Croydon. Yr6 61 pupils. Disadvantaged 46. Reading Scores 106, 113, 110

Programme: Success for All (SFA) grouped by ability, assessed every 2-3 weeks. Stated expectations, clearly laid out, detailed description.

St Joseph’s RC, Yr6 25 pupils. Disadvantaged 8. Reading Scores 107, 106, 112

Programmes: Letters and Sounds, Rigby Star, Big Cat Phonics, KS2 Destination Reader.

Holmleigh, Hackney. Yr6 30 pupils. Disadvantaged 12. Reading Scores 103, 108, 111

Programme: ? Difficult to locate relevant information with exception of ‘regular theme days’ and Bug Club Home Reading Programme.

Riverley, Walton Forest, London. Yr6 55 pupils. Disadvantaged 20. Reading Scores 107, 109, 111

Programmes: no information about phonics programme (?)

Ofsted report: ‘One of the many improvements has been in the teaching of reading. Senior and middle leaders have put in place a well-organised programme of phonics to ensure that pupils are able to use the sounds that letters make to read increasingly difficult words. Consequently, pupils in Years 1 and 2 are making brisk progress with their reading.’ A very positive report giving the impression of an extremely dynamic school.

Bailey Green, North Tyneside, Yr6 64 pupils. Disadvantaged 17. Reading Scores 106, 103, 111

Programme: Jolly Phonics with ORT.

St Mark’s CE, Stockton-on-Tees. Yr6 45 pupils. Disadvantaged 14. Reading Scores 104, 109, 110

Scant information on Phonics. ‘Read 2 decodable books a week’ and choose a ‘challenging reader’.

Newcomen, Redcar and Cleveland. Yr6 46 pupils. Disadvantaged 15. Reading Scores 108, 107, 111

Programme: Letters and Sounds. ‘Children are also taught to engage with texts and to focus on comprehension.

Our aim is that all children have a true passion for books and reading which develops their love of books and continues into adulthood.

We are extremely proud of our library.’ 

The Orion School, London NW7. Yr6 91 pupils. Reading Scores 107, 108, 111

Website: nothing relevant except ‘read at least 10 mins a day’ with parent.

Iqra, Brixton, London. Yr6 29 pupils. 16 disadvantaged. Reading Scores 110, 110, 111

Muslim Affiliation.

Programme. Letters and Sounds.

Comprehensive website information including:

 ‘In Key Stage 1 Reading and Writing skills are delivered through the specific area of English and enhanced in cross – curricular activities. We use a Power of Reading approach -immersing our pupils in high quality age appropriate texts and using these as a basis to promote drama, discussion, develop a rich vocabulary and foster a love of reading and of books. Teachers provide activities which are interesting and motivating and provide the best context for increasing children’s knowledge about the English language. Stage 1 Reading and Writing skills are delivered through the specific area of English and enhanced in cross – pupils curricular activities. We use a Power of Reading approach – immersing our pupils in high quality age appropriate texts and using these as a basis to promote drama, discussion, develop a rich vocabulary and foster a love of reading and of books. Teachers provide activities which are interesting and motivating and provide the best context for increasing children’s knowledge about the English language. It is also necessary to focus separately on aspects of knowledge about the language such as phonics and grammar so that children learn what they need to know in a systematic way. We plan English sessions flexibly and ensure that the appropriate balance of whole class, group and individual teaching is retained. Some more time in the week is set aside for guided reading, independent reading and writing across the curriculum. We make clear to children the qualities and success criteria we are looking for in their work. In Key Stage 1 children also have individual literacy targets in their books…It is also necessary to focus separately on aspects of knowledge about the language such as phonics and grammar so that children learn what they need to know in a systematic way. We plan English sessions flexibly and ensure that the appropriate balance of whole class, group and individual teaching is retained. Some more time in the week is set aside for guided reading, independent reading and writing across the curriculum. We make clear to children the qualities and success criteria we are looking for in their work. In Key Stage 1 children also have individual literacy targets in their books

Mayflower School, Tower Hamlets, London. Yr6 50 Pupils. 30 disadvantaged. 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. Yr6 26 pupils. Disadvantaged 9. Reading Scores 106, 102, 110

Programme: Letters & Sounds.

‘Teachers use a variety of teaching styles to engage your children and develop their motivation so they become successful and avid readers and authors.’

‘We place a strong emphasis on Phonics in the early years of learning to read because we believe this lays the foundations for successful reading and writing… All teachers have been trained on using L&S and receive regular updates and support from the Literacy Subject Leader.’ Book lists for all year groups recommended by Pie Corbett.

Staindrop CoE, Darlington. Yr6 28 pupils. Disadvantaged 6. Reading Scores 110, 111, 113

Programme: Read Write Inc.

I have quoted at length from their website as it provides the clearest example of how well a school can achieve with a strong book culture.

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and we ensure our English curriculum gets children into books right from the start. From the important foundations using our systematic and structured Phonics program to our wizarding Library, Giant reading bed, playground Book Nook and stunning class reading corners- we make sure our school oozes books at every turn. Our Staindrop Book Awards excited staff, pupils and authors alike. Reading whole class quality texts as a basis for literacy and many other subjects makes sure that children are exposed to the best in children’s literature and a full range of genres. Many books studied are the first in a series in order to encourage children to develop reading on for pleasure. Poetry, non-fiction, digital texts and picture books feature through the English syllabus from EYFS to Year 6.

‘Children are taught to apply their phonics skills and improve fluency through the Readwrite story books used during these sessions.

‘All staff receive training and regular updates and development days to ensure continuity and increase staff confidence in delivering these sessions.

‘Children’s progress in phonics is closely tracked and children are regularly assessed and regrouped as appropriate. The Reading leader tracks progress and identifies children who require 1:1 intervention which is then implemented in order for children to catch up.’

KS2 Independent Reading Books

‘From KS2 onwards, children use the Accelerated Reader program to track progress and encourage them to read. Online Star tests identify children’s current reading levels and guide children to choosing books at an appropriate level. On completing books children take a short comprehension quiz and aim to score 100%. Various incentives run throughout the year where children can collect tickets for each 100% scored and win cinema trips, easter eggs or special experiences. This helps to incentivise reading and keeps children motivated to read and quiz.

‘Books can be chosen from our well stocked library, class reading corners, teacher VIP book shelves or books from home. Children keep a record of their own progress in their reading record books where they note down scores and write book reviews.

When children have read a million words this is celebrated with a special certificate and a £5 book voucher.’

Guided Reading

‘We use a whole class approach to guided reading in KS2. Whole class sets of books sourced from Durham Learning Resources are used. Texts are carefully mapped to link to books studied in Literacy lesson by genre, theme or Author. Several sessions a week are given over to reading the book and class discussion. One session a week is planned to teach a particular reading skill:

‘Vocabulary, Inference, prediction, evaluation, retrieval or summarising known in school as VIPERS. These lessons consist of a model question and practise questions for children to complete. Other written tasks may be used to further their understanding of the text. On a weekly basis VIPERS activities are used based on film clips, adverts, picture or text extracts as additional independent practise of these skills.’

Literacy Teaching

‘Reading as a fundamental part of literacy lessons and units of Literacy work are planned around and based on a quality text. Texts are mapped out across school to link with topics where appropriate and to ensure coverage of a range of genres, themes, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, authors, classical texts, new releases and best -selling authors. Contact with authors is encouraged and frequently classes tweet or email authors being studied and gain responses.’

Reading Spaces

‘The school is organised to promote reading and inspire children to read. We have a Harry Potter themed library where children can choose books for home reading and non fiction books for research during lessons. Our playground Book Nook provides a sheltered place where children can go to be quiet and read at playtimes. We also host story times for the younger children read by the older pupils. In classrooms appealing reading areas provide a place to sit or choose a book and are often themed around the texts being studied in school. Every teacher has a special VIP book shelf where they keep their latests books and lend them out to children to create a sense of awe and wonder around books. Often teachers will order new books specifically requested by children and we have been known to have these delivered to children’s homes in the holidays. Our KS1 book gallery displays the books being read in classes to encourage discussions between staff and pupils. Reading is such a huge part of school life that teachers have even set up their own books clubs outside of school’.

 Celebrating Reading

‘We celebrate reading through our now yearly book awards. We start by taking pupils to our local book shop to choose the shortlisted books, followed by whole school readings of the books. Children and staff then vote for the winners. We contact the authors and are excited for their responses. Children write book reviews and share the awards via social media. World Book Day is celebrated every year in a variety of ways such as door decorating competitions, chair creating activities, a giant reading bed and dressing up. Author visits enhance the work we do in school.’

Bevington, London W10. Yr6 44 pupils. Disadvantaged 26. Reading Scores 114, 111, 113

Programme: Letters and Sounds/Read Write Inc. 15 mins daily. ORT reading + ‘real books’.

Egglescliffe CoE, Durham. Yr6 29 pupils. Disadvantaged 5. Reading Scores 104, 109, 110

Programme: detailed phonics teaching but no specific information (?) on programme adoptedORT book scheme + 13 other decodable schemes.

Redesdale, Wallsend, N.Tyneside Yr6 25 pupils. Disadvantaged 5. Reading Scores 106, 101, 110

Programme: Read Write Inc. ‘In school we have reading stages from Stage 1 to 14 then children move onto free readers. The scheme is a mix of Oxford Reading Tree books and real books to give the children a wide range of reading material.’

New Seaham Academy, Durham. Yr 6 37 pupils. Disadvantaged 7. Reading Scores 108, 109, 110

Programme: Read Write Inc. With wide range of decodable books inc. ORT, Songbirds, Rigby Star, Project X.

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