Driving up standards in literacy teaching across the North West

Jan 10, 2024

The Childer Thornton English Hub has created an online hub to help improve phonics and early reading teaching in over 1500 schools.

Key Outcomes

• Improved teacher training to raise standards of phonics and early reading in schools
• An online focal point where literacy experts can communicate and collaborate
• Instant remote access to support and training materials for improving literacy
• Time saved that can be focused on supporting children’s reading progress
• Consistent delivery of quality support and services to over 1500 schools
• Expanding effective literacy teaching across the North West

Background

A firm grasp of phonics and early reading are the essential foundations a child needs to develop a lifelong love of learning and succeed in school.

As one of 34 primary schools funded by the government to help improve standards of literacy across England, the Childer Thornton English Hub offers specialist support and training to over 1500 schools across the North West.

From its base at Childer Thornton Primary School in Cheshire, the hub co-ordinates a 20-strong team of teachers and literacy specialists who are brought in to schools across Liverpool, Wirral, Cheshire West, Warrington and Halton to deliver bespoke phonics and literacy teaching expertise.

“With our teams working remotely over a large geographical area, we wanted to simplify communication and make it easier to ensure the support we provide to schools is consistent,” says Julian Tegg, Hub Lead at Childer Thornton English Hub.

The hub adopted Schoot to achieve this, a subscription based online platform designed for the education sector, which provides a one-stop-shop to access on-demand training, manage communication, collaborate in real time and store and share information.

Tailored support for schools

Each school the Childer Thornton English Hub supports faces its own unique challenges in raising literacy standards. One school might struggle to embed phonics consistently, another may have a large number of disadvantaged pupils with reading difficulties or staff who need help to close learning gaps.

Whatever the barriers preventing children from making progress, a team with the expertise needed to address them is parachuted in to work directly with senior leaders and teachers to deliver change.

Communicating with teams could be a challenge, as Julian Tegg explains. “The wide range of tailored support we offer schools generates a significant amount of paperwork. If we update our training materials or make changes to the way we track the impact we’re having in schools, we previously used email to share the revised versions of any related documents with our teams. But we had no way of knowing if emails had been picked up or if people were using the correct documentation.

“As the number of schools we support grows, so does the email traffic into inboxes so we wanted a more efficient way to stay in touch with our teams and cut the time they had to spend manually searching for information.”

The introduction of Schoot has created a focal point for all communication and document sharing across the hub. Now, team members working remotely in schools can stay in contact through a secure messaging portal and access the latest documentation whenever and wherever they need to.

“Having everything in one place has transformed the way we work and helped us to deliver more consistent support to schools. It was easy to set up private online spaces our people can use to send and receive messages or locate documents. This has eliminated time-consuming manual email searches.”

Working collaboratively

Geographical distance can get in the way of collaborative working, stifle creativity and increase isolation for people working remotely.

 Bringing people together on the Schoot platform gives them the opportunity to work together to help schools improve outcomes for their pupils. Private virtual meeting spaces allow team members to discuss effective strategies for teaching phonics or shape successful schemes to encourage boys to read. Collaborating online opens up opportunities to share best practice and individuals can join sessions from wherever they are working, including in schools.

 “Our teams have an online focal point they can use to work together to improve literacy standards in schools. We simply didn’t have that capability before,” says Julian.

 “Sessions are automatically recorded and shared with anyone who was unable to attend. There’s no need to make calls or send emails to catch up on what was missed. I recently ran a session to talk through some changes we were making to our reporting template and I just added a link to the new version in the chat. It couldn’t have been simpler.”  

 Schoot members can also use the platform to create their own networks or join other groups to tap into subject specialists nationally and internationally.

Reaching more schools

Using Schoot has resulted in a significant reduction in the volume of emails being generated across the hub. “Email requests for the latest video training resource or reporting template have dried up completely because everything is stored centrally,” says Julian.

Childer Thornton is now looking at how the solution can help consolidate the training and events being delivered in five English hubs across the North West. “Our aim is to ramp up the support and services available and reach more schools to raise standards of literacy.

“With Schoot, we can expand what we do without diluting the quality of support or the positive impact in the classroom. That’s a really powerful way to ensure we improve outcomes for children in the area.”

“Having everything in one place has transformed the way we work and helped us to deliver more consistent support to schools.”

Julian Tegg, Hub Lead at Childer Thornton English Hub

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