Supporting Year 7 and Year 8 Students

Megan Silver works at Fulston Manor School – a large non-selective secondary school, in Kent. The students there range hugely in terms of their backgrounds, needs and literacy levels; Year 7’s reading ages when they start at the school can range from 7 years to 16 years, 6 months.

At the start of lockdown, school librarian Megan was given the additional role of Literacy Coordinator. Whilst shielding, she devoted her time to exploring a range of schemes and products to support literacy teaching and raise standards in reading and writing in her school. And that’s when she found LiteracyPlanet (more fondly known as LP). Read on to find out how Megan and her colleagues are using LP in their setting and the impact it’s having on students.

“When comparing LiteracyPlanet with other resources, what stood out, for me, was that the evidence and data were there to back up what the resource said it did. I wasn’t seeing that with a lot of the other products I looked into. But with LiteracyPlanet we felt confident as a school that this was a worthwhile investment.”

Prior to Using LiteracyPlanet

Megan realised how spelling, grammar and punctuation were being taught differently in her school, by different members of staff. SPaG books were being purchased for the students to work through, but these were being used to varying degrees – with varying success. She noticed that the students, on the whole, didn’t seem too enthused by these books, either. Megan felt that Fulston Manor needed a more consistent approach to SPaG, using a resource that would increase student engagement and motivation.

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Implementing LiteracyPlanet

LP was implemented in the school, in October 2021, at the start of Term 2. That second term was a period of teachers and students alike getting used to the platform and all its features. It didn’t take long at all for everyone to navigate their way around it and for the students be working through their personalised tasks and missions. Students access LP during their library sessions. It’s also set as their English homework. For any students who might have issues accessing LP from home, the school make sure they can use the computers in the library. One of the teachers also runs a weekly ‘LiteracyPlanet Lunchtime’, so that students have an opportunity to complete their weekly tasks then.

LP is also being used very successfully as an intervention with small groups of students who have very low reading ages. They work closely with a tutor on a weekly basis and go through an LP comprehension together, learning how to decode the text, explore the vocabulary and draw meaning from what they have read in order to answer questions about it. Students are set different levels on LP. This differentiation means that individuals are working at a level that’s right for them. This can be regularly reviewed and adjusted, using the different tracking and reporting tools.

“On a lesson-by-lesson basis, the students’ page that shows improvement is really useful for the teachers.”

Progress and Outcome

Every teacher and school wants to see their students engaged and motivated. As we all know, this aids progress hugely when coupled with high-quality teaching and the best
teaching resources. At the end of the first year of using LP, Megan buried herself in data and graphs! She tracked the students’ use of the platform and plotted it against reading assessment data. What she found was that those children who were doing a significant number of LP missions showed, on average, an accelerated reading age of three years! Vocabulary expansion is another key area that the staff have noticed progress in. Educators all around the country share the concern about the widening vocabulary gap between our advantaged and disadvantaged students. Staff at Fulston Manor noticed an improved vocabulary in students’ speaking and writing, in as little two to three months after starting LP. Teachers also report improved accuracy in spelling, punctuation and grammar in students’ written work.

“One Year 8 was so excited when she found out that the school were going to bring LiteracyPlanet back in Year 9, she came to see me especially to say that she was so happy that she’d be using it again next year, because she loves it!”

Moving Forward with LiteracyPlanet at Fulston Manor

The team will be focusing on making sure the students are interacting regularly with the platform in a way that aids their progress. This will include tracking students more closely by going into their pages and seeing how they are completing the tasks, and – in particular – checking their accuracy scores.

The students who find literacy more challenging will be further supported to use LP more confidently, as they are guided through each aspect of the different tasks. Megan says this has worked wonders for those students who have used it in this way, supported by the tutor in the small intervention groups. But even secondary school students benefit from a little hand-holding when first using a new resource, so they fully understand how to get the most out of it.


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