Posted on: 11/10/2022
Janine is a Deputy Headteacher and Language, Literacy and Communication Lead in Bridgend. Her main area of interest is communication through written and oral forms that helps children to share their views, become confident individuals and have a voice. Janine is also a Literacy Tree Lead Teacher.
When we first began researching a change for our current practices in Literacy, we stumbled across Literacy Tree. Upon reading the home page of the website, I recognised that this was what had been missing from our curriculum. Creativity, imagination, progressive knowledge and skills intertwined with engaging experiences. Finding Literacy Tree early on in our research journey supported us to compare and contrast similar programmes to ensure that our teachers were fully invested in the teaching of literacy and our pupils were excited by engaging in an array of fascinating texts. Having a programme that embodies high-quality texts from a range of genres, integrates spellings and whole-class reading has given us the confidence to provide a high-quality education to all of our pupils. Although there are many explicit links to the curriculum in England, it has been pleasing to explore the relationship between planning sequences, spellings and whole-class reading to the Curriculum for Wales. It is evident that the cross-over of skills, knowledge and experience also explicitly link with the Welsh agenda for education.
We are a large primary school in the semi-urban town of Bridgend, central to Cardiff and Swansea. Our pupils are from a wide range of backgrounds and have had varying experiences. Following the introduction of the Curriculum for Wales we deliver a concept-based curriculum, exploring concepts such as ‘identity’, ‘conflict’, ‘equality’, ‘perspective’ and ‘communication’ across all Areas of Learning and Experience. Literacy Tree has allowed us to relate high-quality texts to concepts as a continuation of learning across the curriculum.
Our previous planning for Literacy focused on knowledge and used short texts to teach snippets of writing and key skills, such as punctuation, phonics and grammar. Although the knowledge-rich curriculum offered pupils the opportunity to develop key skills, it limited extended and creative writing opportunities, something which our teachers love to teach! As part of our research, we visited a flagship school in London and worked closely with another member of the Literary Curriculum in Wales. Seeing Literacy Tree in practice and hearing teachers and pupils talk about the curriculum in such a positive way solidified our decision to take the curriculum on board within our school.
The move to Literacy Tree has allowed us to plan using high-quality texts while creating fun, engaging and challenging writing opportunities that allow our pupils to become immersed in the literary world.
Things we love about using Literacy Tree...
➔ The books! The books that Literacy Tree offer are books that we wouldn’t have necessarily thought about using before. The illustrations within the books create beautiful imagery within our pupil’s minds and allow them to transport to a new and different world.
➔ We really love that the Spelling Seeds relate to the texts that we are reading. This enables all of our pupils to read tricky words within context rather than learning words that they will not use regularly.
➔ Whole-class reading using captivating texts allows our pupils to transport themselves to different, new and exciting places. By engaging in written and discussion based activities about the book, pupils are able to create deeper learning.
The focus of assessment within our school is on day-to-day assessment and responsive teaching to move learning forward. Literacy Tree allows teachers the opportunity to create a learning sequence that can be adapted to suit the needs of the children within the classroom. The planning is progressive and provides teachers with the confidence to teach skills and knowledge in a robust and coherent way. The structure of lessons builds on previous skills and knowledge and puts these into different contexts, allowing children to practice skills and apply knowledge.
Literacy Tree has provided our teachers with the skills to plan meaningful learning experiences that engage all of our pupils. For example, Wolves, taught in Year 2 has enabled children to engage in library visits and The Last Garden,taught in Year 3 has seen children plant seeds and create a ‘garden of hope’. All of these experiences mean that children have engaged with their learning and are able to deepen their understanding by taking part in exciting experiences.
In addition to providing meaningful learning within planning sequences and whole-class reading, the programme also offers the opportunity to deepen children’s understanding across all Areas of Learning and Experience. When exploring concepts such as ‘identity’, ‘perspective’ and ‘conflict’, Literacy Tree planning has supported us to delve deeper into the concepts using a different context and supports our whole-school approach.
Supports national priorities
At Oldcastle Primary School, we believe that every child should have the opportunity to access a high-quality, rich and meaningful education that will enable them to develop into successful citizens of the world. We also believe that no matter the background, experiences or societal influences, all children must achieve their potential.
Within Wales, the national priorities place an emphasis on reducing the impact of poverty and ensuring that all children achieve their full potential. Literacy Tree ensures that every child within our school can access a range of skills, knowledge and experiences that widen their horizons, build on prior learning and allow them to explore places they have never been before. By engaging children in a multi-sensory approach, through discussion and oracy based activities and developing children’s confidence to enjoy reading, Literacy Tree supports our pupils to become confident, informed citizens.
What our pupils say...
“Our class is engaging and talking about the work a lot more in literacy!” Year 5 pupil
“The book is based on real-life situations and that makes it more meaningful for us to learn about. It also includes lots of drama!” Year 6 pupil
“The book helps us to understand our learning as it relates to us. I really like learning all of the different vocabulary at the start of the unit and that helps to understand the tricky words.” Year 5 pupil
What our teachers say...
“The varied approaches to the scheme are great as it diversifies the learning for the learners, keeping them engaged. It also focuses on certain techniques during one session, which is helpful in hopefully embedding understanding.” Year 6 Teacher
“Our current planning sequence focuses on non-fiction, and children are excited to find out more and are interested in the topic.” Year 3 Teacher
“Literacy Tree engages our most disengaged pupils. They love learning all about the facts included in the book and really developing their narrative and fiction writing skills.” Year 2 Teacher
Janine is one of our Lead Teachers for 2022/23. She is a Deputy Headteacher and Language, Literacy and Communication Lead in Bridgend. Her main area of interest is communication through written and oral forms that helps children to share their views, become confident individuals and have a voice. She has always loved reading and exploring society through literary worlds. She enjoys creative writing and exploring how word choices and vocabulary change and enhance communication. One of her (many) favourite books is The Boy with Two Hearts by Hamed Amiri.
KS: Lower KS2
Year Group: Year 4
KS: R & KS1
Year Group: Year 1
KS: R & KS1
Year Group: Year 1