The Senior Leader Perspective – the how, what, where and why of evidence informed leadership

6 July 2018

Author: Jo Ashcroft

Jo Ashcroft, Director of Education for the Aspire Educational Trust explains how the EEF guidance reports are supporting her designing strategic responses to the challenges faced in 3 schools in Cheshire.

Preparing For Literacy – Accelerating the Progress of Disadvantaged Pupils In the Early Years

I am currently undertaking the NPQEL programme (National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders) and part of the assessment process is completion of a Peer Challenge Group school improvement task, where implementation is led by a group of Executive Leaders and takes place across a group of schools. One of the biggest passions and drivers in my educational leadership is gaining equity for all pupils, with disadvantaged pupils being given the very best opportunities and highest quality education so that they can achieve in line with their peers, so it was very important to me that the assessed task should impact upon disadvantaged pupils. We decided upon ‘Improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in the early years, via bespoke early intervention strategies’ as the title, with the aim of narrowing the disadvantage gap in the early years, before it becomes any wider. Upon analysis of the data for all schools in the group, it became clear that the widest gaps for disadvantaged pupils were in the areas of Listening and Attention, Understanding, Speaking and Reading/Writing, so they became the areas for acceleration through the project with oracy and communication strategies, metacognition and self-regulation and making the best use of adults identified as three potential foci. In order for the intervention approach chosen to be evidence informed, we turned to the EEF for the research and were excited to find the new Preparing For Literacy report, especially to see ‘prioritise the development of communication and language’ as the first recommendation, to be used to underpin pupil’s development of early reading and writing skills. All schools involved in the project are keen to review how they plan for language acquisition (using a tiered approach for vocabulary), and to explore how they will measure the impact of this. There is also a desire, across the schools, to explore how the recommendation about self-regulation can be implemented, in line with the recommendations from the recent EEF Metacognition guidance report.
The EEF Report – Guide to Effective Implementation, provides a clear staged implementation approach, on which we have planned this task: setting the foundations for good implementation across all schools involved in the project; explore – defining the problem and exploring the solutions (based on evidence and research); prepare – getting everything ready for implementation (sourcing training, planning for follow on support, audit and sharing of resources, staff timetabling etc); deliver – delivering the recommendations from September 2018; sustain – planning how to sustain the intervention as well as how to upscale it to all of the schools within all of our trusts.
The project is currently in the Prepare stage (with an occasional visit back to the explore stage too); I look forward to updating you with the impact at various milestones during the deliver phase.

Posted on 6 July 2018
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