How to improve literacy in KS2: embedding the Education Endowment Fund guidance

Tips for whole-school literacy strategies in primary school

Literacy impacts success in every subject, so developing a curriculum-wide approach to literacy has a proven impact. If you’re a primary school lead looking for support in drafting a literacy strategy, the Education Endowment Fund’s report into Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 is a good place to start. Here, we summarise its seven recommendations for improving literacy and tell you how each can be achieved in practice.

Improve literacy in your school

How to improve literacy in your primary school

Every whole-school literacy strategy is unique. Yours will be informed by your school’s own distinct characteristics. However, there are some guiding principles to consider:

Involve all teachers and support staff. Ensure they’re engaged in using language to promote learning in every subject
Identify the particular needs of all students, across all three domains of literacy – oracy, reading, and writing
Build strong links between school and home
Plan for the longer term, emphasising the integral relationship between language and effective teaching in all subjects.

 

How to embed the Education Endowment Fund guidance

The EEF’s guidance isn’t meant to be comprehensive. Its recommendations are ‘lever points’, allowing evidence about literacy teaching to make a significant impact on students’ learning.

Tech can play a valuable role in any literacy strategy, complementing in-class teaching. So alongside each recommendation, we suggest how our online curriculum, Bedrock Vocabulary, can support your school.

The report also emphasises the importance of parental engagement, especially at primary level. Read our article How parents can support your school’s literacy strategy to find out more.

 

EEF recommendation

Overview of EEF recommendation

How to apply using Bedrock

1. Develop students’ language capability to support their reading and writing. Speaking and listening activities develop language and provide foundations for thinking and communication. Pre-teaching key vocabulary, modelling key terms in action and giving students the opportunity to orally rehearse their ideas improves language capability and prepares students for reading and writing. Bedrock Vocabulary is human narrated. It exposes students to new words and structured activities, developing reading comprehension.
2. Support students to develop fluent reading capabilities. Fluent readers focus on comprehending the text rather than word recognition. Fluency can be developed by guided reading instruction

Prioritise reading and provide regular opportunities for students to read, or be read, a wide range of texts.

Bedrock’s human narration provides guided reading. Our algorithm ensures students’ learning matches their ability, maximising progress.
3. Teach reading comprehension strategies through modelling and supported practice. Students apply strategies to aid comprehension, such as prediction, questioning, summarising, inference and activating prior knowledge. Every Bedrock Vocabulary lesson has at least three reading comprehension activities. Pre-writing activities then give students the opportunity to practise using the new vocabulary in different contexts.
4. Teach writing composition strategies through modelling and supporting practice. Students need a reason to write and someone to write for. Model the process an expert writer goes through, including planning, drafting and editing. ‘I do – we do – you do’ can be a useful strategy to use. Students apply their new vocabulary knowledge to independent writing that their teacher reviews.
5. Develop students’ transcription and sentence construction skills through extensive practice. Regularly encourage students to focus on the big picture rather than getting caught up with a granular focus on spelling, handwriting and sentence construction. It will help with their writing fluency. Make time to focus on those other aspects explicitly. Independent writing tasks in each lesson enable students to practise composition skills.
6. Target teaching and support by accurately assessing student needs. Use high-quality assessment and diagnosis to target and adapt teaching to students’ needs. Before starting Bedrock, students take an assessment to put them at the right level. Our algorithm adapts to ensure they’re always at the right level to ensure maximum progress. Usage and progress data is visible to teachers at an individual and cohort level.
7. Use high-quality structured interventions to help students who are struggling with their literacy Focus initially should be on core strategies that benefit the whole class and so decrease the need for additional support. For students still struggling, structured interventions should be put in place, with diagnosis matching them to these. Many schools use Bedrock as part of their intervention strategies, as well as at a whole-school level. Read schools’ success stories.

For more information, read the EEF Improving Literacy in KS2 – full report and its poster-format summary of recommendations.

Alongside this guidance for KS2, the EEF has also issued separate guidance for secondary schools. Our article has suggestions on embedding the EEF guidance at KS3-4.

Develop strong literacy and confident voices in your school

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