LITERACY: OPENING MINDS: REMOVING BARRIERS
The school had an OFSTED full inspection in December 2008 and a literacy subject visit in October 2009. In order to be outstanding a school needs to reflect fully on the needs of the individuals and the needs of the community. Tapping into our local community and recognising where we fit in is essential.
What are the strengths of our community? How can they support what we are trying to do?
What are the values of our community? Do they match ours? If not, what values do we need to further promote in our school? What messages must we communicate to our families?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BARRIERS FACING OUR LEARNERS IN LITERACY?
Life experience: Many families do not leave their immediate community.
We do not have a desire to change their strong communities but we strive to extend and enrich what they already have.
English as an additional language
Many of our families have the amazing talent of being able to speak in many different languages. This shows a real strength and desire to communicate. Whilst we recognise that this is also an aid for our children who excel at communicating in more than one language, it also poses as a barrier for some learners and for the school.
· New culture having to settle in an already established community
· Issues of community cohesion
Socio-economic issues (Based on statistical data)
· Around half of the adult population have no qualifications
· Most of the employed adults are in low skilled or unskilled work.
· The area also suffers from high levels of crime and great fear of crime (concerning prostitution, sale of drugs, high levels of vandalism and theft)
· Office of National Statistics: 25% of the population are likely to be obese
What might some families face?
· Low self-esteem, lack of motivation, lack of role models re qualifications, poor resources to support learning, high levels of support required from the children (young carers, translators), high levels of illness and stress.
HOW WE BREAK DOWN BARRIERS TO LEARNING
High Expectation of All
Staff: The school has highly motivated staff who work diligently to promote and support the school ethos
"The school takes as its central aim the achievement of the highest possible standards by all children within a secure and caring environment where everyone is valued and encouraged to reach their full potential." Nelson Mandela Community School Mission Statement
Getting Behind the Statistics
Recognizing that a school can change statistical trends through commitment, perseverance and belief in achievement at all levels. Whilst the catchment area and data present incredibly challenging and difficult socio-economic circumstances, the children at Nelson Mandela have high expectations and an enjoyment of learning and they succeed in their endeavours. We recognize that our children have very real challenges before they even enter the classroom and we strive to provide a nurturing environment where children feel safe and emotionally ready to learn. Nelson Mandela Community School has worked since its creation to work with the community to provide opportunities for children and their families to achieve beyond statistical trends. Many of our families have high aspirations for their families and aspire for their children becoming Doctors, businessmen, lawyers or achieving positions of status. It is our mission to ensure the children leave with the skills that will take them forward in a fast changing world by enabling them to be independent, fair, resourceful, quick thinking and with an attitude of optimism and perseverance.
Ensuring that our curriculum extends life experience for children as well as their families
1. We extend literacy through providing links with the wider curriculum, local and global.
2. We realise children need to talk through ideas and experiences before becoming successful writers. For this reason, school budget supports many trips and visits, providing experiences to feed imagination and ideas for writing.
3. The school strives to provide opportunities which value the lives of our children outside school hours whilst also challenging the barriers that may hinder progress. Learning at Nelson Mandela is further enriched through carefully planned visits, visiting groups and cross-curricular learning.
4. Families are encouraged to attend nursery visits so that they may experience the learning opportunities too.
Lifelong learning and high academic aspirations
The school’s commitment to valuing education has led to many families retaining their link with the school. Many families have attended the school themselves. Our Nursery baseline is showing that many of our children are having a higher level of literacy levels as a result.
Early expectations of independent learning leads to high self esteem
From Nursery onwards, children are trusted with opportunities to make decisions and choices about their learning. Planning always includes activities which can develop skills of independent learning.
The Curriculum : Language
We share a passionate belief that speaking a second language is a huge benefit to life, rather than a detriment to be overcome. We recognise that our children have a specific intelligence that we might not have. This is very much celebrated at our school.
- Structured and strong emphasis on the teaching of phonics whilst maintaining creative methods of phonic exploration and play.
- An emphasis on speaking and listening
- Ensuring that the entitlement curriculum has an emphasis on developing the core skills within the framework of Excellence and Enjoyment and ECM
- Our balance between entitlement and continued high achievements in our determination to promote literacy and numeracy skills is a philosophy which has led to high achievements from the beginning.
- Our well established pathway to reading is based on children’s self interest and recognises the importance of their lives outside school as a hook for learning and family involvement.
· Early entry ( after 8.10 ) time used to develop aspects of literacy
Children are not asked to wait outside at the beginning of the day. Since the school opened, children have been allowed to come in to their classrooms any time after 8.10 am. They are trusted to use this time constructively, practicing handwriting (Early Bird), reading, practicing spellings, finishing work or involving themselves in other literacy based activities. Anybody who breaks this trust is denied early access.
· Individual reads to ensure all children have one to one coaching
Opportunities to do this are supported by the extra teacher in each team and time to follow through is identified through rigorous routines throughout the day. We value the emotional effect of one to one work, particularly for children who might not experience sharing reading at home.
· Routines ERIC / Early Bird / Big Book/ support eg 2.40 reads
Well developed literacy routines are rigorously applied. This benefits children and staff and ensures continuity of practice. The “2.40” support system sees TAs leave the afternoon activities and share reading with lower ability readers who have been identified as needing extra time.
Assessment is rigorous and has a high impact upon achievement
Setting is used as a tool throughout the school to support children in small groups and regular assessments enable children to be targeted within these groups and for children to move within groups as appropriate.
High quality teaching and learning through staffing and resources
The school recognises that the best learning requires high quality staff with clear expectations regarding high expectations of outcomes as well as delivery. We invest in sharing of staff expertise to ensure equal opportunities for all staff and children. Many of our TAs have valuable insight into cultural attitudes and beliefs of our different communities which further supports our planning and wider curriculum opportunities. Their input is also essential in maintaining the high levels of routine literacy support for lower ability children.
Literacy is taught in a fully integrated way, even when a core skill is taught. A full range of genre writing is covered with group reads planned to support the genre work for the week.
Topic based planning has been a route through the many writing genres children are introduced to at Mandela for many years. Since then, time has allowed us to develop topic boxes of resources relevant to each study area from Early Years to Year 6. We have a high status library and resource manager.
Working in collaboration with families
As a school, we fully recognise the importance of home school study support and have already held many successful parent workshops on many curriculum matters. Workshops for parents are held on a regular basis, not always with a literacy focus, but always providing another opportunity for children to see the value of good working relationships between teachers and parents.
Spelling is saved to the website through Spell Anywhere, usually focussed on spelling families, but also including essential vocabulary needed for the children’s writing each week.
The Young Teacher’s Club was formed many years ago and provides an opportunity for older siblings to be trained as learning mentors for younger family members.
Parents are also encouraged to take advantage of our early morning starts by sitting together sharing books etc before school starts.
Our TAs provide a vital link between school and the community. They have access to most community languages enabling closer contact with parents whilst also being fully committed to safeguarding and matters of confidentiality. .
Nelson Mandela School