The UK Literacy Association is proud to announce the 2014 recipient of our new award for schools. High view School Plymouth is the 2014 UKLA Literacy School of the Year: A school where literacy thrives
UKLA is a registered charity, which has as its sole object the advancement of education in literacy and is committed to promoting good practice nationally and internationally. UKLA President David Reedy said “this award has become an aspirational and recognised kite mark for schools of excellence in literacy.”
Kim Dorian-Kemp, Headteacher explains; “Children, staff and the wider community are very excited and proud to have received this award. At the end of a gruelling day of close scrutiny of books, data and lesson observations by the judging panel, we were given the good news. The roar of excitment throughout the school when I announced it on the PA system was heartwarming. I would like to thank my wonderful teachers and TAs for their continuing hard work, and particularly Mrs. Landers, who co-ordinated the award process.”
High View School, Plymouth grew from the amalgamation of two neighbouring schools in September 2009 .The senior management worked with the team of architects to create a stunning environment for learning. The new primary school opened in 2011 and is a superb learning space. High View serves an an area with some social and economic difficulties and many of the children do not come from a language rich environment, but this serves as no barrier to success at High View. Through an inspiring environment and a language rich curriculum, children thrive as confident language users and by the end of their time at High View, reach the top 5% of all schools nationally for their literacy skills.
The assessors were most impressed by the way that literacy is placed at the heart of High View School’s curriculum. Key texts have been carefully chosen to illustrate and illuminate thematic learning in history, geography and science. Teachers are passionate about the books they choose, and determined that the children in their care will succeed. Throughout the school; in the entrance foyer, in classrooms and in the corridors, children’s writing is beautifully displayed, from the first mark making and story-maps from the youngest children in early years, to some very accomplished writing from the oldest children. Both staff and children take pride in the children’s learning outcomes. This is shared with both parents and the wider community, through the school’s website, where children have the chance to share their learning through a weekly blog, and through ambitious arts-based projects, such as Magic Hour, where their film-making is shared in a public forum.
One of the most striking features of the school was the consistency of the quality of teaching from all of the adults who were interacting with pupils. The school has used its resources to ensure that children are well supported by both teaching assistants and “apprentice teachers”, who are graduates gaining classroom experience before embarking on their own teacher training courses.
Oracy, with opportunities to introduce and consolidate new vocabulary, and many opportunities for the children to discuss their learning with a partner, in small groups or in whole class settings, ensures that the children are confident speakers. The children we met, in classrooms and focus groups, were very keen to tell us about their school and the opportunities it provides them to learn in a very wide range of contexts – in the classroom, through visitors to the school and visits to other settings, in the wider community, with opportunities for film-making and podcasting.
Children can and do read fluently and expressively, and are clearly knowledgeable about the books they read. Children are encouraged to read independently through a school-wide “Reading Champions” scheme, where they are rewarded by the headteacher in assembly for the amount of reading which they do. In the school holidays, the children also have the opportunity to read through the community library’s Summer Reading Challenge, and in 2013 were the Plymouth champions.
UKLA has invited Headteacher, Kim Dorian-Kemp and her team to present a seminar to share their good practice at the UKLA International Conference in July 2015, when they will also receive their Award.