Successful implementation at Hellesdon High School

Secondary | MAT

Hellesdon High School

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School size


Bedrock users


Free School Meals


Bedrock partner since

May 2019

Why Bedrock?

Hellesdon High School identified a significant reading age gap between their Pupil Premium (PP) learners and their non-PP learners. Not content to allow this gap to widen, Hellesdon wanted to take action and find a curriculum that would bridge this gap. That’s where Bedrock came in.

Implementing Bedrock

Learners at Hellesdon are motivated to complete Bedrock through incentives and sanctions implemented based on the Bedrock points system. Monthly house group competitions keep learners' spirits high and give them a goal for their Bedrock lessons.


Closing the language gap at Hellesdon High School

Currently in their fifth year using Bedrock, Assistant Principal Jason Brand and Literacy Coordinator Nikki McNulty share their useful insights into how they have successfully implemented Bedrock to close the language gap at Hellesdon High School.

  • Praise, encourage and intervene as appropriate
  • Support staff and parents throughout their Bedrock journey
  • Consistency is key!

Why Bedrock?

Having identified a significant reading age gap between our Pupil Premium (PP) (Free School Meals) and non-PP learners, which posed a barrier to learning, we [at Hellesdon High School] were looking for a curriculum to help bridge the gap. That was when Bedrock came along and fitted nicely with the gap we had identified. At the beginning, our team at Hellesdon High School had a rocky start integrating Bedrock into our wider curriculum. We started with Year 7s in PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education), which didn’t turn out as expected. Since making it part of our tutor provision, it has been working well, as indicated by the increased traction.

1. For learners, praise, encourage and intervene as appropriate

We’re now using Bedrock with Year 7s and Year 8s as a provision that is mostly completed outside of school. All of our tutor groups spend a period in an ICT room once a fortnight, where learners complete their Bedrock lessons. To ensure learners engage on Bedrock, we follow a carrot-and-stick approach based on data from the Bedrock points system - it’s been really successful this year!

For learners who don’t complete enough Bedrock lessons (indicated by receiving red or grey on the Bedrock points analysis), there are 15-minute intervention sessions where they complete their Bedrock lessons with Nikki, our Literacy Coordinator - we ensure that it is supportive rather than punitive.

If learners receive an amber face [in the Bedrock smile system], we have a conversation with them to see if they’ve faced any challenges completing their Bedrock work, and agree on how they can achieve green the following week. If the face is green, the learner’s achievement is recorded in our behaviour and reward systems, where learners can earn merits and potentially prizes.

To keep spirits high among our tutor groups, we hold monthly competitions in conjunction with our house system - some of our tutor groups are really competitive! Each house includes two tutor groups per year which allows for a real focus on individuals or small groups of learners. We swap the theme or criteria for the competition every month: for example, the tutor group that “has the least number of greys and reds” or “has earned the most points” to “has the fewest non-engagers”. This gives tutors and heads of house a slightly different lever each month for encouraging engagement.

2. Support staff and parents proactively throughout the Bedrock journey

To ensure our Bedrock launch hit the ground running this year, we held a training for tutors which was facilitated by our previous Literacy Coordinator. This made sure that all tutors fully understood how Bedrock would work. A checklist for using Bedrock was sent out in advance. There are regular personal check-ins with our Literacy Coordinator, Nikki, to address any issues tutors encounter. For our new Year 7 learners, a letter was sent home to parents regarding our expectations for their children to complete two Bedrock lessons per week at the start of their Bedrock journey.

3. Consistency is key!

Literacy is a big thing for us as a school. However, improving literacy has always been a challenge due to our cohort’s varying backgrounds. Coming back after lockdown, one of our major goals as a school is to be really clear that literacy is not limited to English. Having a science specialist as our current Literacy Coordinator is a purposeful move to bring literacy into a wider focus across the curriculum.

Literacy is vital for success across all subjects, and is strongly correlated with learners’ success in their wider life. This message is integrated into other initiatives we have in place as part of our literacy improvement plan. Every time a learner takes a book out of the library, they get a “good attitude to reading” mark. We also promote literacy through Drop Everything And Read (DEAR). DEAR and our literacy updates are shared in our bulletin and on social media. Rather than just using one event, such as World Book Week, we aim to connect all of our efforts throughout the academic year.

Looking forward to the future…

Having used Bedrock Learning for nearly five years, we’re looking to continue with Bedrock as a tool to create a language-rich community and improve literacy across the curriculum. Our aim is to improve engagement on Bedrock, ensuring learners complete their work reliably and regularly. Integrating Bedrock with other subjects across the curriculum is also our upcoming focus.

To summarise, here are our main three takeaways for how you can improve your school’s implementation of Bedrock today:

  • Praise, encourage, intervene as appropriate to ensure learners’ engagement and motivation to complete Bedrock
  • Support staff and parents proactively throughout the Bedrock journey through regular check-ins and home communications
  • Prioritise literacy improvement across the curriculum to ensure that there is a consistent strategy and communication with learners about the value of literacy from classroom to classroom

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