I have been a teacher for 30 years, a Headteacher for 15 years and, at the age of 53, this much I know about an inept attempt to improve students’ literacy skills.
Implementation rules! About seven years ago we had a concerted effort to improve our students’ literacy skills. We scatter-gunned a number of different interventions, without an implementation plan or any idea how we were going to evaluate the impact of our interventions. One of the interventions was to provide a set of dictionaries for every single teaching room. The SENCO and I ostentatiously visited every teaching room, during lesson time, to deliver the small set of dictionaries per room. It had to be helpful, surely? The next day the Design Technology department saw the dictionaries as an opportunity to tailor-make a mini-bookshelf for each room, to accommodate the five sets of dictionaries they had been gifted. Seven years on, this very afternoon I took photographs of the pristine mini-bookshelves with their pristine, unopened dictionaries. I can’t remember what the dictionaries cost, but we have a lot of classrooms at Huntington, the biggest school in York. What I do know is the impact they had on our students’ literacy skills…

Just doing stuff is not enough. If you want to learn how to implement school improvement strategies effectively, click on the image below of the Education Endowment Foundation’s Putting Evidence to Work – A School’s Guide to Implementation. You just might help your students make better progress and save yourself a ton of money!


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This post has 3 Comments

  1. As a teacher of 40 years experience, I remember the set of dictionaries in my ‘Boro classroom being used for Friday afternoon competitions, word races, definition derbies, spellcheckers, any number of rowdy learning games we made up. Kids loved it. The dictionaries were the most battered and dog-eared items in the room, which was crammed with book boxes of all sorts. It’s not the kids, or the teachers that lie behind the failure of this kind of intervention, it’s the malign influence of the crammed curriculum, time pressures and the ‘race to results’, at the expense of fun, word-play and the instilling of a love of literacy.

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