“Studying vocabulary explicitly is helping to increase attainment in reading”
Within just two months of joining us, Queen’s Church of England Academy, a primary in Nuneaton, had already made such progress that for October 2020 it had the highest progress figures for any UK Bedrock primary school – meaning it is truly building the foundations for a sustained contribution to closing the vocabulary gap.
During that month it achieved a very impressive average progress score (the improvement between pre- and post tests) of 52%, while students eligible for pupil premium funding made gains of an astonishing 218%.
Keen to share the good news, Tom Kidd – the Y6 teacher, English subject lead and driving force behind the school’s successful implementation discussed – spoke to us about their Bedrock experience so far…
What prompted you to choose Bedrock?
Our headteacher’s daughter uses it at secondary school and during lockdown, she saw her daughter using it and thought it would be a great idea for the school.
It appears that a blended approach to implementation works for you…
We have used Bedrock in a two-pronged system: in the classroom and as part of our homework provision. We have one of our daily reading lessons per week dedicated to quizzing – and use this time to ensure children have the opportunity to complete one of their Bedrock lessons. This takes the pressure off at home and the children can make the connections between reading and vocabulary.
It is great to see Bedrock is helping Queen’s to become a language-rich community, while simultaneously narrowing persistent gaps within such a short space of time…
As the [Bedrock] results have shown, our children desperately needed some explicit vocabulary teaching as we have a high proportion of EAL and deprivation – meaning that a wide range of vocabulary is not always easily accessible for our children. I have read the research and know that higher levels of vocabulary directly correlates to higher levels of reading and writing, so I recognise how important it is for our school to become a language-rich community.
It is clear that you are following the Education Endowment Fund’s recommendations for primary schools for a data-driven approach to literacy improvement. In what ways does Bedrock Vocabulary contribute to students’ reading and vocabulary development across Queen’s?
The fact that children study vocabulary explicitly is helping to increase attainment in reading. Our whole-class reading lessons have a vocabulary focus and children are able to make connections between words that they have been explicitly taught in Bedrock and those they are coming across in their reading. They are starting to see the connections between root words and vocabulary families/trees that are widening their range of Tier 2 vocabulary.
How does the explicit teaching of Tier 2 vocabulary within the context of aspirational and challenging non-fiction and fiction texts help students’ writing and oracy development?
In our reading lessons, we decode vocabulary from the reading texts we study. In a Year 6 class, one of the words they were asked to decode had been a word they had studied on Bedrock. As a result, the progress that could be seen and the links between the learning was clear for all to see!
This focus on vocabulary encourages children to use Tier 2 vocabulary in their writing by using word mats in our writing lessons. This also feeds into the oracy side of our curriculum and in speaking and listening activities such as debates, we are beginning to see that some children are using more sophisticated vocabulary during these activities.
As we see improvement in our children, we are able to use the data on the vocabulary that our children have learned to encourage them to use them in writing and speaking and listening activities. As a leader, I can correlate the improvements in vocabulary to the reading attainment and progress across the upper key stage and spot trends in their learning. This means I am able to talk about progress confidently to other leaders, teachers, external organisations and governors.
I understand our Customer Success Manager, Cameron Tricker has been working to ensure your needs and goals are met…
Yes, Cameron has been great at helping with set-up and going through reports. He has made it easy to understand the reports and how to use them. As a result, I have been able to closely monitor progress from a leader’s point of view but also show teachers how to use the reports to support their monitoring in class.
The only challenge has been the amount of ICT equipment that we have in the school and how the bubble systems have made it more difficult to share, but this is an internal issue. There have been no difficulties with the system at all.
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