The Year 2 Network was set up in order to improve the quality of teacher knowledge, skills and understanding in year 2. By doing so we hoped to raise attainment and identify elements of good practice in our schools. The idea of the network was to provide teachers with an opportunity to work with their peers to provide mutual support for each other and express any concerns in a safe environment. This is the first year the network has operated and we hope to expand and improve it in the future.
At the beginning of the year, colleagues got together and identified a focus for the group. We choose to look at the development of reading as this had been an issue raised in previous year’s data. We would look at best practice in each school in order to identify strengths and implement elements into teaching and identified things that worked well. Our aim was to achieve 5% above national average in our reading data.
Overall the majority of schools achieved this target and for the schools who did not achieve this, one school saw a significant increase of 20% from their previous year whilst the other school had a high mobility rate of 60%.
Within the alliance’s geographical location, the five challenges facing schools outlined by Blatchford’s (2013) research are very real issues which teachers must address when aspiring to provide high quality provision.
- Schools in the locality face 30-40% casual admissions, with 20% of children in Redbridge alone, 11,000, living in poverty.
- 40-60%+ Children with English as an Additional Language, 50%+ Language other than English.
- Teachers struggle to afford housing, placing pressures on recruitment.
- Diversity, there exists a wide range of schools, including the UK’s Largest schools, some up to seven times the average size of England (2011)
- London schools are amongst the highest performing in the UK, with the most amount of outstanding schools. While international data is indicating that if London on its own was placed into PISA rankings it would outperform the UK by 14 places, and that children from social and economically disadvantaged backgrounds living in London outperform similar children across the UK, there still remain 170,0 00 children in grade 3 and 4 schools.
Gearies Primary School
Gearies is a three/four form entry primary school in Gants Hill. Most pupils live a short distance from the school. There has been a steady rise in the percentage of pupils with statements/EHC plans over the past 5 years. There has also been a steady fall in the percentage of pupils with SEN without statements. With regards to ‘Free School Meals’ there has been some fluctuation in this data over the past 5 years, this has always been considerably lower than Redbridge and national averages. 79% of our pupils are from Asian heritage, we only have 5 pupils classed as White UK (0.9%), and the largest groups are the Bangladeshi (22.5%) and Indian communities (22.2%). 94% of pupils on roll are registered as EAL. There are over 40 languages now spoken in school. There are 90 children currently in Year 2, with 4 registered as SEN and 2 Recent Arrivals. Attainment in Reading this year was 87% achieving the Secure threshold or above.
SS Peter and Paul’s Catholic Primary School
SS Peter and Paul’s is a two-form entry Catholic Primary school in Ilford.
70% of the intake are Catholic. There are 58 children in Year 2, with a 22% shift in mobility taking place over the course of the academic year.
Attainment in reading stood at 70% for KS1 in 2015/16, this has risen to 79% for 2016/17.
Eastbury Primary School
Eastbury Primary is a 4-form entry school situation in the borough of Barking and Dagenham with 944 children on roll. Almost all pupils are from a wide range of minority ethnic backgrounds. Eastbury Primary School is an academy converter school and the lead primary school under the management of Partnership Learning, a local multi-academy trust who also manage other primary and secondary schools in Barking and Dagenham.
Year 2 have 119 children on roll, 7 SEN children, 29 pupil premium children and __ EAL children. This year, there has been a significant improvement in the KS1 results. As a school, we were moderated in KS1 last year and again this year. Last year there were some judgements in moderation not agreed by the moderators and the KS1 results were significantly below the national. However, this year the results have made a significant improvement and the moderation process was extremely successful with all judgements agreed. 74% of pupils achieved National Expected Standard for reading, a 20% increase.
Fairlop Primary School
Fairlop Primary School is a community school situated in the north of the London Borough of Redbridge, near Barkingside and Hainault on the borders of Essex. It is a three form entry school with over 700 pupils starting from Nursery to Year 6. Just over two thirds of the pupils belong to minority ethnic groups and just under half of the pupils speak English as an additional language. These proportions are above the national average.
There are currently 89 children on role in Year 2. 8 pupils joined in year 2 (2 started in summer term) ,13 pupils joined in KS1.During the current summer term, 2 pupils have joined the cohort, who both are working at below national expected standard and these replaced 2 pupils who were working at least at the expected standard in each subject. (This equates to 2.3% of the cohort.)
This cohort has 13 disadvantaged pupils which makes 15% of the cohort. Attainment of the disadvantaged group in each subject is greater than the national average for 2016 and an increase from the school’s 2016 attainment. Both the attainment of boys and girls in each subject is greater than the national 2016 and school 2016. 76% of children achieved National Standard at Reading in 2017
Highlands is a larger than average school with 720 pupils, predominately of Pakistani origin with a large percentage of EAL children. FSM children account for 9%, with 10% eligible for pupil premium. Almost all children have English as an additional languages and are from minority ethnic backgrounds (School Ofsted report 2014). This year their Reading attainment was 81%.
Cranbrook is a much larger than average primary school in Ilford. The school is housed in a new build, with a large nursery (52 FTE) and 4 classes per year group, except in Year 5, where there are 5 classes. In September 2016 Cranbrook Primary opened its doors to a new Additional Resource Provision (CUBE – Communication and Understanding of Behaviour in Education). There are currently approximately 976 pupils on roll, with a significantly high proportion of those from ethnic minority groups (98.3%), largely being Muslim from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. The percentage of pupils with EAL is significantly higher than national (84.3%). Attainment on entry to the school is below the national average, but end of EY attainment and progress is well above Redbridge and national.
There are 119 children currently in Year 2, in this cohort 116 have EAL. 34 pupils are Pupil Premium, 3 pupils in the cohort have ECHPs and 18 pupils receive SEN support. This year 85% of the pupils in year 2 reached age related expectations in reading.
Ray Lodge is a large primary school with three classes in each year group. Pupils in the school come from a diverse range of cultural background and three quarters have English as an additional language. Many of the children join the school at times other than those usually expected. Also a third are eligible for free school meals and the proportion of pupils with SEND are above national average. Since starting in reception, the current Year 2 cohort have had mobility of around 60 percent, often these children are new to the country.
Simple view of reading
The Simple View of Reading was adopted by the Rose Report and forms a central part of the Primary National Strategy’s view of literacy learning (Rose, 2006; DfES, 2006). It was initially developed by Gough and Tunmer (1986) and suggests that reading comprises two key skills; listening comprehension and word recognition.
Reading has 2 components
Word Recognition (phonics)
- The ability to recognise words presented in and out of context.
- The ability to apply phonic rules – blending phonemes to decode.
- High quality phonics work – prime approach for beginners in learning to decode and encode.
- The process by which word information, sentences and discourse are interpreted.
- The same processes underlie comprehension of both oral and written language.
The Simple View formula makes clear that strong reading comprehension cannot occur unless both decoding skills and language comprehension abilities are strong. As educators we must teach pupils to decode expertly as early as possible. When they can decode expertly, their reading comprehension capabilities equal their language comprehension abilities.
As a result of this we decided to focus on phonics and the development of comprehension in our schools to identify elements of good practice.
The Year 2 network decided to observe phonics lessons in Ray Lodge Primary School, focusing on supporting EAL learners as many of the schools had children with these specific needs. The aim was to look at implementing Phase 6 phonics with Phase 5 sounds. In previous years Phonics has been set according to ability, findings from this showed that children understood and knew Phase 5 sounds but were not using them correctly, if at all in their writing. It was evident that their writing also lacked the correct grammatical features to show that children were working at a Year 2 standard.
Due to this, it was decided that the children would no longer set and Phase 6 Phonics would be taught in class. The children who did not pass the Phonics Screening had additional support outside of these Phonics sessions.
The Phonics lessons followed the suggested structure of Letters and Sounds. The process of revisit, teach, practise and apply. This was taught through a mixture of carpet and group activities, differentiated according to needs. The observed session was deemed useful as a range of activities were used that all learners could access. Due to the tasks being interactive, fun and engaging but also open ended it allowed children to extend their learning when needed. One activity that stood out during the session was the ‘Mystery Box’ used during the revisit section. Children would pick out different words and they would have set tasks in which they would explain the meaning of the word, how they would use it and then apply it in a sentence. This proved useful because it allowed children to show an understanding of previous teaching and learning as well as the children continuing to revise grammatical terms that linked to national curriculum targets i.e. contractions, suffixes and so on.
Read Write Inc
Read Write Inc is a programme developed to improve Literacy skills in all areas. It is not just a phonics programme as it also integrates comprehension, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and handwriting. It engages all children by using partner work, role-play and drama. RWI have a range of resources that engage the children and make learning fun, including a wide variety of books, flash cards and detailed plans. It follows a teaching style of praise, pace, purpose, passion and participation. The training provided by RWI is particularly useful and inspirational.
The approach for RWI is to set across KS1 into small ability groups. All staff (teachers, TAs, support staff) are trained on delivering RWI and all teach a group at a set time on a daily basis. Every child is assessed on a half termly basis and their progress is tracked. Any children who do not make the expected progress then have RWI interventions in the afternoon.
The Reciprocal Reading Approach
Reciprocal Reading is a group approach to reading used to encourage the use of dialogue and inference when reading. It can be used in a guided reading style session, to help cultivate confidence when using a range of reading strategies. The teacher can demonstrate and model the approach and how they can make a prediction or find the answer to questions.
The Fischer Trust describes the wide ranging benefits of the approach as:
‘shared reading where Adopting reciprocal reading strategies as a common approach allows a school to ensure that children develop a language for talking about and investigating texts and sorting out difficulties. It is also potentially very useful as a consistent approach to support children’s reading in different curriculum areas.’
We observed a whole-class reciprocal reading session, and identified the following examples of approaches and tasks that we could implement to our own practise.
- Using buddies for peer support when completing reading tasks.
- Recording answers to oral comprehension questions to support the development of written answers to reading comprehension question.
- Using a journal for reading activities provides pride, purpose and evidence of attainment.
- Getting children to generate their own questions and ask the teacher gives them ownership, engages and challenges.
- Tasks to be purposeful linked to assessment criteria.
- Consider if pre-reads are always appropriate when using reciprocal reading.
Whole Class Comprehension
Within the Year 2 Network we observed a whole class comprehension session based on an English text. The text used was a picture book which contained a deeper message. This enabled all ability readers to engage and access the text. The more able were challenged to look deeper into the text to address higher order questions. Children worked in mixed ability pairings which provided support and encouraged discussion. The more able pupils were used as good role models to develop discussion, questioning and vocabulary. Working in mixed ability pairings allowed for the more able to aid with decoding and thus children were not hindered by their level of decoding when answering comprehension questions. (Mokhtari & Reichard, 2002) ‘Comprehension will therefore fail if a child cannot decode, whilst a focus on decoding at the expense of reading for meaning is a sign of a beginning or less skilled, reader’. All children were engaged and actively participating. As well as orally rehearsing answers children provided a written response to prepare children in writing written responses to comprehension questions. A good range of questions were used (e.g. retrieval and inference questions). Children were encouraged to refer to the text to provide supporting evidence and to justify their reasoning.
Implications for practice
From our findings it clear that children need to be confident in using the correct terminology when teaching phonics. Interactive resources should be used to support learners. Children should be given the opportunity think and apply their knowledge of phonemes in context. Teachers should be pre-empt misconceptions in order to address the needs of all pupils and EAL pupils should also be considered and planned for.
Whole class texts can be useful to support the development of comprehension. Pupils should be encouraged to record their responses to comprehension questions so as to develop their ability to answer written comprehension questions. Using buddies is an effective way to supports peers within the classroom. Getting children to generate their own questions give them ownership, engages and challenges pupils. Teachers to consider if pre-reads are always appropriate and ensure tasks are purposeful.
Other outcomes of the network
Our second meeting was held on Thursday 19th January 2017 at Gearies. We were first given a briefing on the moderation process this year by Pat Ward and had the opportunity to ask questions to clarify any concerns or queries that we had. This enabled us to have a more secure understanding of the types of evidence needed for the moderation and assessment of pupils against the ITAFs.
Moderation allows teachers to come together to share practice, resulting in greater consistency of judgment, and focused teaching. The purpose of moderation is to share overall expectations of learning, and progression of learning.
In light of the change in curriculum expectations and the continuation of the interim framework the Year 2 network felt it was important to meet to discuss the implications of this on teaching and learning. Each school bought a range of writing books to share.
We began by discussing the features of the interim framework and what they would look like in a piece of writing. This was a very helpful part of the process as it enabled us to gain a consistent approach before moderating one another’s books. We then chose a level to focus on i.e. S2W, and shared our children’s books with one another. This opened up a very rich discussion about the similarities and differences between the different pieces of writing.
Working from an interim checklist we ticked off the elements which were covered and spoke to one another about potential targets for each child and strategies to close the gap. We were also able to identify the different requirements for each standard and begin to understand which areas require more focus in order to move a child from one stage to the next.
Over the session it became clearer what was required within each stage and misconceptions were addressed such as exclamation sentences needing to include a verb, which for many came as a surprise. This finding meant that we went back to our respective schools and retaught this concept. From moderation we also were able to identify gaps in coverage and gained clarity in terms of the benchmark levels within each stage i.e. working at expected is a S2W-S2A.
Moderating across the Gants Hill Partnership meant that we gained a consistent approach to the teaching and learning of writing with an overall objective to raising standards. This partnership model means that you do not feel alone but supported, in a safe environment where you can share your concerns. And above all an opportunity to share and take away good practice.