Revolutionary school improvement programmes hit secondary schools

Thanks to a £1m grant from The JJ Charitable Trust, The National Literacy Trust has today announced the launch of brand new school improvement programmes which take a revolutionary whole-school approach, aiming to improve secondary school attainment by changing school culture and embedding literacy throughout the curriculum.

The National Literacy Trust’s new set of programmes has been designed by the charity in response to the growing need for literacy support in secondary schools nationally:

  • A significantly lower proportion of children reach the expected level in their GCSEs than at the end of primary school (55.9% vs. 78% in 2014)
  • National Literacy Trust research shows that children’s attitudes to literacy become more negative when they reach secondary school.
  • Department for Education figures show that 52.6% of pupils in England gained five A*-C grades this year, down from the 59.2% last year.
  • Disadvantaged pupils were hit the hardest, with just 34% of pupils gaining five good GCSEs in deprived boroughs of the UK.

To address these issues, The JJ Charitable Trust has granted £1m over 3 years to the National Literacy Trust to implement the “Academies Programme” with the Aldridge Foundation and Ormiston Academies Trust academy chains. The Programme will provide a framework to improve literacy by working through five steps from diagnostic to leadership and skills assessment, and the approach will draw on community resources, families and students’ passions and interests.

The National Literacy Trust has also been commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council to work with a cluster of secondary schools over two years, as the “Oxfordshire Gaining Momentum Campaign”. The Campaign seeks to address the county’s above average gap in attainment between disadvantaged and other pupils, with a focus on students in Years 7 and 8.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust says: “We are delighted to be launching our new school improvement programmes which will enable us to achieve our ambitious vision for secondary school improvement. Thanks to The JJ Charitable Trust and Oxfordshire County Council we will work with secondary schools to embed literacy as the driver for improving attainment at GCSE level.”

Mark Woodruff, Executive of The JJ Charitable Trust says: “Literacy is one of The JJ Charitable Trust’s main concerns and for years we have worked with charities to prevent and overcome poor access to literacy that too often sees children and young people fall prey to low educational attainment, low employment chances and even homelessness and prison.

“We have turned to the National Literacy Trust for a creative new approach to young people’s inclusion in literacy that gives them a powerful place at the heart of their own education. With schools able to provide bespoke literacy support they will be making the most of all that teachers and their skills, with young people’s families and peers have to offer.

“We are delighted to be working to develop this new capacity with National Literacy Trust, its extensive school networks, and their partners in the Aldridge Foundation and Ormiston Academies Trust groups of academies.”

Honor Wilson Fletcher of the Aldridge Foundation says: ”The National Literacy Trust is being really smart; understand how academies work as a whole and you have the chance to embed lasting, effective strategies for literacy in their DNA.  Aldridge Foundation is proud to be part of this ground-breaking national partnership.  Our schools have made huge progress in improving literacy outcomes for our students, but we always want to do more.  Out of a forest of initiatives, our Trustees and our academies have therefore seized on the opportunity to participate in this ambitious, strategic piece of research.”

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