Bradford Hub boosts development with Early Language and Literacy Project

A joint early years project in Bradford has raised low development levels in reception-aged children.

The Early Language and Literacy Project was created by our Early Childhood Services and the National Literacy Trust’s Bradford Hub, in partnership with the Bradford Birth to 19 Teaching School Alliance and the Innovation Centre Bradford (TICB). The project was rolled out to eight Bradford primary schools, with children’s centres across the district also being invited to take part, which promoted opportunities for joint working and information sharing between them and the schools.

The programme had a significant impact on the eight Bradford schools who took part.

Across the eight schools:

  • The number of children achieving a Good Level of Development (GLD) score increased by an average of 9%, which is more than double the LA increase
  • The Good Level of Development scores across the eight schools increased by 12%
  • The gap between boys and girls achieving a Good Level of Development score narrowed by 18%

The programme was launched in response to the low GLD scores achieved by Bradford children, an issue which was particularly pronounced in schools in Bradford’s most deprived neighbourhoods. There was also a significant gap between genders, with boys achieving significantly lower GLD scores than girls.

The Early Language and Literacy Project is a three-strand approach which supports schools to address their low development levels. The three programme strands are focused on training and supporting teachers at eight different Bradford schools. The programme included:

  • An Early Writing CPD course for teachers, where they learnt about what encourages young children’s writing and developed strategies to build on that knowledge
  • Workshops on the ‘Sharing Stories Together’ initiative, which is a project aimed at building up parents’ skills as storytellers, which the teachers could then adapt for their classrooms
  • A Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) course, which is a course designed to look at how teachers and practitioners can better engage dads and male carers in children’s early literacy

Imran Hafeez, Manager of the National Literacy Trust’s Hub in Bradford, said:

“The results from the pilot are very encouraging and have demonstrated the value of partnership working. We were clear that we wanted a programme to support practitioners in the classroom and at the same time strengthen links with parents through tools like sharing stories and fathers reading to their children. This has encouraged schools to shine a positive light on the value of parental involvement in supporting reading and writing for enjoyment and develop stronger links as a result. In the next year we look forward to working with another 10 primary schools and presenting the programme to the education endowment fund”.

Chris Tolson, Head of Teaching and Learning at Bradford Birth to 19 Teaching School Alliance, said:

“This first phase of this project saw system leaders deployed to support class teachers and provide school-to-school support. This way of working proved very effective and was a key ingredient to the project’s success. It is a great example of partnership working and shows how leaders and teachers can support each other to improve outcomes for pupils across Bradford.”

Lynn Donohue, Early Years Strategic Manager at Bradford Council, said:

“As a result of our annual thorough analysis of pupil performance at the end of reception year it was clear that, although the performance of our 5 year-olds is improving strongly in Bradford, there was still some low pupil performance in reading and writing and for some groups of pupils.  We identified that the gap between the performance of boys and girls was increasing and the gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and non-free school meals was not closing. This piece of work has enabled us to really target resource and expertise in the design and development of this intervention through our delivery partners. The first pilot in 2015-16 has resulted in some early evidence of success and already delivered improved outcomes for our young children; as a result of this, we are engaging in a second year with our partners.’

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