Fen Edge 4

Case study school to school support to improve writing

This case study seeks to demonstrate a model of school-to-school support, which has ensured four Cambridgeshire schools, worked collaboratively at headteacher, subject leader and teacher level to impact on improvements in writing. The structure of the case study is as follows:

1. Introductory Context

2. Outline of the Project

3. Baseline

4. CPD for headteachers

5. CPD for subject leaders

6. CPD for teachers

7. Developing monitoring and evaluation approaches

8. Impact

The Annex to this case study provides exemplar tools that were used in the project, research summaries.

1.Introductory context

Four Cambridgeshire primary schools – ‘The Fen Edge Four’ identified the continued issue of improving writing as a common priority.

The four schools include one small school, which has been judged Outstanding and is the lead school in the Teaching School alliance, and three other schools, which have been judged good. The schools are situated in rural village settings in East Cambridgeshire. They commissioned the support of an external consultant to facilitate a writing project, which would involve all four schools in a school-to-school support framework. The project was planned to run for the spring and summer terms of 2015.

2.Outline of the project

Stage One: January -  Initial CPD meeting with Headteachers

Set up of programme and expected outcomes, research evidence, summary of strategies that work for improving writing based on research evidence, sharing strengths and areas for development. Identification of current strengths and areas for development for school to school support.  Baselines: current baseline established for each school. Expectations and target setting for each year group/teacher. Confidence schedules to be used with teachers Self Evaluation: Audit tool provided for self evaluation to be completed by each school

Stage 2: February - one day CPD for subject leaders

Progress review of baseline data, audit and self evaluation, teacher confidence schedules, targets set for improvement. Strategies to improve boys writing unpacked. Support for Action Planning for leading the work in school.  Plans for developing portfolio of writing samples for end of year expectations. Plans for the April PD day each school sharing an element of good practice development linked to the key strategies decided upon by the school

Stage 3: April - PD day for teachers from all 4 schools

Focused on supporting teachers with the key strategies for improving writing input from external consultant. Good practice development presentations from each schools linked to one of the 5 key strategies. Shared Writing/Guided writing and Improving feedback to boys priority for the summer term for every teacher. Individual teacher plans/ pledges made at the end of the session for short, medium and long term

Stage 4: June CPD half day Subject Leaders

Developing the monitoring and evaluation role focusing  on the role of the subject leader in monitoring and evaluating impact in one another’s’ schools in pairs in early July: CPD to support subject leaders in review of the action plan, lesson observations and feedback and  book scrutiny. Discussions with pupils and teachers- use of confidence schedules again. Writing a summary report for each school  and samples of writing to be shared for portfolio of writing

Stage 5 July Headteachers meeting to review impact

Evaluation review of each schools impact report, lessons learned, collation of portfolio of writing and early impact data


3.Baseline context

The four headteachers came together to openly share their performance data specifically in writing and to identify common priorities across the schools. The detailed outline they provided is included in the annex to this case study.

Analysis of data highlighted specific targeted year groups for each school and commonly boys as target groups.

School 1: Attainment and progress in writing in all year groups was above national but attainment in writing at the end of EYFS was a concern

School 2 and 3:  Attainment in writing close to national at the end of Y6.Attainment and progress in Year 2 was highlighted as an area for improvement and specifically to improve the numbers of children attaining a secure L2b+

School 4:  Attainment at the end of EYFS and KS1 strong but attainment at the end of KS2 in 2014 was well below national. Year 5/6 identified as a priority


4.CPD meeting for Headteachers

 In January the Headteachers attended a CPD session to review current research in improving writing and to agree on the use of evidenced based approaches to improving writing. (The research reviews they considered are included in the annex to this report) The Headteachers agreed that in the context of moving to assessment without levels developing a portfolio of samples of writing linked to expectations in the new curriculum of every year group would be a positive outcome of the project.

Five key evidenced approaches were chosen by the headteachers as possible areas of focus for the schools:

Audit tool and teacher questionnaires

The headteachers were provided with a common audit tool for their subject leaders to use in self-evaluating the current context for teaching writing in their schools. They were also provided with a teacher questionnaire to gauge teacher confidence in specific aspects of teaching writing. (Exemplar tools are included in the annex to this case study)

Findings from the audit tool and questionnaires

Analysis of the audits and questionnaires identified some interesting areas for further follow up across the schools. The exemplar audit tool is included in the annex to this case study)

5. CPD support for subject leaders

 In February with the data analysis and self-evaluation exercises complete the subject leaders met for a joint CPD session led by the Consultant to develop action plans for improvement for each school.  This was underpinned by input from the external consultant who provided detailed background on effective strategies for improving writing. Accountability for the subject leaders was heightened by the commitment that they would be sharing their developing work with all four schools at an April PD day in four workshop session.

6.CPD session for teachers of all four schools: Collaborative CPD session sharing effective practice

In April the half-day PD session was developed between the external consultant and the subject leaders. Teachers from all 4 schools were encouraged to sit with colleagues from the same year group to ensure greater cross-school collaboration. An introductory session was given by the external consultant to all staff unpacking for them the detail behind the 5-evidenced based strategies. Each subject leader presented an effective practice case study linked to their chosen areas

The workshop sessions were in all cases focused and highly interactive and were well received by teachers. At the end of the morning all teachers were asked to complete pledges of follow up activity. Each subject leader agreed to share their workshop materials through an online section of the Teaching School website

7.Developing monitoring and evaluation:

The role of subject leaders in leading monitoring and evaluation in their own schools and across the schools.In June the subject leaders attended a CPD session led by the external consultant to support them in their monitoring and evaluation of the writing project both in their own school and in one another’s schools. The subject leaders were provided with templates for a monitoring visit. Each subject leader was to work with a partner subject leader from another school on a one-day monitoring visit of their own school and their partner school. They were also expected to work collaboratively on developing a summary feedback report to be presented to the head teacher at the end of the day. (These tools are included in the Annex to this case study). The monitoring visits were planned for later in the summer term. The subject leaders also collated a range of writing samples from each year group to represent end of year expectations for specific year groups linked to the expectations of the new curriculum. This provided an excellent resource to all 4 schools to support the moderating of writing.

The role of the headteachers in evaluating impact - In July the headteachers met to review:

Each school again shared their data transparently and also the feedback reports from each of the school monitoring visits

The Headteachers had the opportunity to collaboratively reflect on lessons learned from the project and to consider possibilities for extending the project further in the next academic year.