Falkirk Council: Closing the Gap
A number of Falkirk Council schools are in the first phase of a Partnership Project that is funded by Education Scotland’s School Improvement Partnership Programmes (SIPP).
The SIPP is a collaborative school improvement strategy that promotes new ways of working across classroom, school and local authorities. Data and collaborative enquiry are used to innovate, test and refine new approaches to tackle the attainment gap.
Falkirk Council is currently one of 7 local authorities funded to work with the Robert Owen Centre, University of Glasgow. Projects across authorities are wide ranging and are very different but the main focus of each is to use collaboration and enquiry to tackle educational inequity and ‘Close the Gap’ for pupils.
Falkirk Council’s identified task is to pilot a staged intervention approach to low attainment in literacy in the upper primary, involving the building of family capacity in areas of relative deprivation.
This is an exciting joint initiative between Schools and Community Learning and Development. Seven primary schools within Falkirk and Grangemouth clusters have signed up for the project. These schools are using a systematic literacy intervention programme called High Five (Family Fischer trust) with small groups of pupils in P7 who have attained lower literacy scores. Alongside this, the Community Learning and Development team are providing additional opportunities for the pupils and their families to encourage motivation and ambition. Opportunities for enhanced transition to High School are also being explored.
The literacy intervention programme will run for a minimum of 20 weeks. Some parents have engaged with the process and have signed up for additional CLD activities.
Robust quantitative and qualitative data is being gathered and will be presented to SIPP, and pupil progress will be tracked from P7-S2.
So far, pupils are enjoying their experiences using age appropriate strategies and structured reading materials.
CLD is excited to be part of a couple of ground breaking pieces of work currently taking place within Falkirk, aimed at providing literacies support for both adults and young people.
One of these is through an Early Years Consortium ‘Test of Change’. This is where new or untried activities to increase literacies skills and opportunities are tried out and monitored to see if they work. P4 pupils from the Denny area, as well as Adult literacies learners from across Falkirk are currently taking part in a Visual Stress Test to identify if they have visual difficulties, which wouldn’t be picked up by a regular eye test, but which may contribute to reading difficulties. Those identified are taking part in further testing by the Caledonian University with the aim of identifying exercises or aids which could lessen the visual difficulty and so make the process of reading, or learning to read much easier. Hopefully all the testing will be completed by Christmas.
The second new piece of work to Falkirk is the Education Scotland funded initiative ‘Closing the Gap’. This is one of 7 projects across Scotland that are involved in action research to identify ways of reducing the inequality gap in Education. In Falkirk this project is targeting P7 pupils and their families with extra support and opportunities to work with CLD & school staff on small group or family work. Within schools work will be on ‘High Five’ interventions, and within the community on activities to increase families’ confidence with, and motivation for learning. This pilot is expected to take place until March 2015 but it is anticipated that funding will continue after this.
Both of these pieces of work will be evaluated on completion to identify if they make up a sustainable model for targeted and holistic intervention in literacy, with the objective that ‘no child is left behind.’
On top of this our core adult literacy classes (15 classes) and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) classes (16 classes) continue to take place in local accommodation, Falkirk wide. In these classes adults build on their skills in areas that are relevant to them, and in ways that they are comfortable with. Qualifications are optional, although there are increasing opportunities for adults to gain their Communication and Numeracy SQA’s in other more mainstream CLD classes, for example work clubs and healthy cookery classes.
Find out about all of these opportunities and more in the what’s on where newsletter