Three years ago, Literacy Tree struck a chord for us. As an infant school our academic standards were good. However, with a changing demographic and decline in on entry standards, particularly around vocabulary, we recognised a need to revise our approach to delivering the English curriculum. We wanted to help all our children become enthusiastic and confident whilst enthusing our staff with a fresh approach.
Funds were limited but enthusiasm was high. I and the newly appointed Deputy and English Lead attended 1 days CPD. We were hooked! One of each of the books per year group were purchased along with a membership to the Literacy Tree website. Back in school we shared our vision with staff, then encouraged them to explore the books and planning and have a go at implementing it.
So, what happened next?
- The books and engaging starting points in EYFS and Year 1 captivated the children and staff immediately. Pupils went home talking about the texts, activities and their writing adventures.
- Year 2 staff found some of the suggested tasks too ambitious for a few of our children so needed to make significant adaptations.
- The explicit focus on oral language enhanced the confidence of ALL children, resulting in ambitious vocabulary choices quickly becoming evident in their discussions and over the year, in their writing.
We have been using this approach for three years now and have seen the full impact on entire cohort from Reception through to Year 2.
- Year 2 staff saw greater impact during their second year of delivering the curriculum. They also embraced the Literary Leaves and are suitably impressed!
- Transition from EYFS to Year 1 became seamless with the continued focus on exciting new books, oracy, role play and a clear focus on writing. A parent governor commented “I guess the jump to Year 1 is not such a big deal after all?”.
- We and KS1 moderators noted the strong vocabulary choices, very strong composition skills as well as the stamina and enthusiasm for writing.
- Staff subject knowledge of the English curriculum has been strengthened and workload has reduced for staff. It is heartening to hear staff share the books and clear plans with any new staff and see how delighted they are with the learning journey being clearly mapped out.
- Moderation of writing is clear. Monitoring of progression is evident and assessing outcomes simple.
So, what’s next on our journey?
- Literacy Tree continues to be the backbone of our wider curriculum. For September, we have adapted our plans and will be introducing some of the newer texts. For staff that’s refreshing and exciting! For the children, there is greater diversity in our book choices.
- We have galvanized the support of our families (whose children continue to enthuse about Where the Wild Things Are, the Naughty Bus antics and Goldilocks’ adventures in Year 2). They have supported our fund raising for more books to enhance book corners. We have selected books recommended by Literacy Tree to support our wider curriculum and support reading for pleasure.
- We are investing in further CPD from the Literacy Tree team to further support staff and ensure we are getting the best out of their approach.
And the best bit so far? That morning, when a class of Year 2’s came into school to find their writing around The Dragon Machine on display in their cloakroom. All 30 of them stood together to read and celebrate their own and each other’s writing and art work - even before hanging up their coats! They were so enthusiastic and proud.
Literacy Tree. Ask anyone here. Best decision we ever made!