For the past year, colleagues from across the Northern Alliance have been working collaboratively on an evaluation of Emerging Literacy, with the final report published during October 2020.

Emerging Literacy, developed in 2015, was designed to help practitioners and families improve children’s early literacy skills from the start of ELC to the end of Primary One. It is a multiagency collaborative approach involving Early Years settings, schools, Educational Psychologists and Allied Health Professionals.

By June 2019 almost four thousand Primary One children across the Northern Alliance had been taught in classrooms using elements of Emerging Literacy.

“The most relevant measures for Emerging Literacy are those relative to its purpose, which is to enable teachers easily to differentiate and individualise learning in literacy according to developmentally based criteria.” James McTaggart, Educational Psychologist, Highland.

The evaluation sought to discover if the approach had been fully implemented across the RIC. Where are we now and where do we want to be? With developments such as refreshed National Practice Guidance for Early Years, Realising the Ambition and Allied Health professionals, Ready to Act, was there scope to change and improve the approach?

We knew from a sound base of evidence that the approach could make a difference to our youngest children and ultimately to our efforts to close the poverty- related attainment gap across the Northern Alliance.

We wanted to know the extent of the implementation across the RIC – what were the challenges and opportunities?

How acceptable was the approach? Did practitioners like it and feel that it made a difference? Was it easy to implement? Did they have a strong understanding of the rationale?

The views of education and health practitioners were taken into account. Primary one teachers, managers and Head Teachers, education officers, Allied Health Professionals and system leaders completed case studies for the evaluation. 

A survey monkey questionnaire was created and generated 79 responses to the Primary 1 survey of whom 55 further responded as practitioners, with 23 responses to the AHPS survey.

An audit of Education Scotland inspection reports identified statements relating to quality indicators 1.3 Leadership of Change,2.3 Learning Teaching and Assessment and 3.2 Raising Attainment and Achievement.

The working group identified key drivers of successful implementation as

  • Strong leadership at all levels including a shared, holistic vision of the approach
  • Shared understanding of pedagogy and curriculum
  • Partnership working
  • An accessible and streamlined CLPL offer
  • Monitoring scale and spread across the system to ensure outcomes for children

These formed the basis of the recommendations to the Directors who fully agreed and endorsed the evaluation during October.

What next? With the publication of the evaluation report (which can be accessed on our website) the Emerging Literacy working group are collaborating to develop a refreshed offer across all eight authorities which aims to be in place in early 2021 to support children, families and practitioners.

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