To raise expectations of achievement and narrow the achievement gap by increasing literacy levels, then expanding beyond English to “Challenge for all” aiming for outstanding learning at all times.
Students arrived with very different achievement levels from different primaries.
For all students in Year 7, the teaching body was challenged to recognise the high level that students were achieving in Year 6 – the ‘Year 6 best work’ in all exercise books to remind students and teachers that progress should be from that starting point. Visits to all main partner primaries by the headteacher and SLT with responsibility for transition occurred and a vision for effective academic transition and high expectations agreed. At the same time the English department began reshaping its curriculum to better reflect higher levels of achievement at Key Stage 2. This improved engagement and raised expectation and achievement for all.
Primary liaison increased and the English team made significant changes to their schemes of learning to increase the level of challenge. Changes in primary leadership successfully tackled the lower literacy levels. Working with these new colleagues on a more progressive approach became apposite.
Years 3 & 4
“Challenge for all” became the mantra on which all development work was based. Differentiated learning outcomes as a requirement became non-negotiable for all lessons. Cross-curricular development was integral in all Joint Professional learning; sharing good practice from the dramatic improvements in core subjects to humanities subjects led to an increase in achievement in those subjects too.
Learning walks, staff feedback, student voice, exam results
Learning walks were summarised and reported termly, these showed the strengths in learning and teaching in English and humanities. Student feedback revealed that English was often a favourite subject where students knew they would be challenged and supported to achieve. Exam results improved in English and humanities.
For this project we needed to be flexible and adapt. The initial project was helpful in addressing a number of issues. Change to “Challenge for all” brought the project more in line with the needs of the academy as our overall improvement journey took place. A good lesson learned by senior team colleagues is that we must be mobile in leadership to respond to situations within or to adapt long term plans as required. Challenges we faced (and continue to) are with the liaison with our primary partners.
Rachel Cave, email@example.com