UKLA is proud to announce the 2017-18 recipient of our prestigious award for schools. St. Anthony’s Primary School, Renfrewshire is the 2017-18 Literacy School of the year: A school where literacy thrives. UKLA President Tracy Parvin, said “This award recognises those schools which place literacy and literature right at the heart of children’s learning. It is more than a celebration of creative, enthusiastic and engaging teaching; it is a kite mark for excellence. This year’s winning school has left a lasting impression on our assessors: St Anthony’s Primary School is most definitely a school where literacy thrives.”
Jacquie McBurnie, headteacher of St. Anthony’s Primary School commented, “I am absolutely, delighted for our staff and children in receiving this prestigious award. It is testimony to all their hard work and unlimited enthusiasm for learning. The journey of St. Anthony’s Primary was supported by the Renfrewshire Literacy Approach, which resulted in changes being made through a process of co-production between school professionals and university academics. The staff in St Anthony’s Primary embraced the programme with enthusiasm and determination that we would improve our knowledge of literacy, increase our understanding of how poverty impacts on literacy attainment and of how to intervene to promote equality. Our children deserve the very best and in St. Anthony’s we strive to be excellent in every way, every day to achieve this.”
St. Anthony’s Primary School is a one form entry primary school in Johnstone, which has an attached unit for children with communication difficulties. The school serves an area of deprivation; the headteacher and her staff are committed to improving the life chances of the children who attend through a range of inclusive strategies and a determination to work with parents and the local community. The outstanding leadership of the headteacher has led to a transformation in the teaching of literacy at St. Anthony’s and has proved inspirational to other schools in the Local Authority.
The assessors who visited the school were most impressed by the way the professional development undertaken by the school has made an impact on children’s literacy development and progress. The school took part in a local authority wide project with Strathclyde University, “The Renfrewshire Literacy Approach”. St. Anthony’s participation led to a transformation in the way the teachers approached literacy teaching, placing children’s experiences and high quality children’s literature at the heart of the curriculum. Inspired by their work on this project over two years, fourteen of the seventeen teachers at the school have gone on to study for masters level modules. The school has now embarked on further training to improve children’s writing, as well as setting up a teachers’ book group to keep up-to-date with the best of children’s books. The headteacher has taken part in all of this training, inspiring and leading her staff in a determined effort to improve reading and writing outcomes for her pupils. The expertise in the school is now providing leadership in literacy development to other schools.
Both staff and pupils at St. Anthony’s can speak eloquently about the books they enjoy. Each classroom is generously resourced with a wide range of books, and these are imaginatively displayed, with comfortable reading areas for children to choose books and to enjoy stories being read to them. The school’s commitment to inclusion has resulted in impressive opportunities for the children with communication difficulties to share in this love of books and reading; a group of children from the unit had visited BBC Scotland to meet an author, which was celebrated by the whole school. The assessors were particularly impressed by a group of the youngest children engaging in questioning, debate and deep discussion about the picture book their teacher shared with them. Across the school, children have the opportunity to discuss the books they love in Reading Cafes, and parents are very appreciative of the opportunities for them to choose books and share them at home. The school is about to be refurbished, and the building plans include a library, with community access, at the centre of the school. In addition to a wealth of print resources, children have the opportunity to learn using laptops, digital cameras and tablets.
St. Anthony’s success reflects the determination of the headteacher and her staff to make a lasting difference to the children in their care, and their families. The school has made a significant investment in its literacy curriculum, through professional development and the purchase of a wide range of high quality children’s books. The work achieved through participation in the Renfrewshire Literacy Approach, because of the enthusiastic and reflective staff at St. Anthony’s, will continue to bear fruit in the years to come.
Tracy Parvin, UKLA President, visited the school on Tuesday 6thMarch 2018 to present the award to the school. UKLA has also invited the headteacher and her team to share their good practice at a seminar at the UKLA International Conference in July 2018, when they will also receive recognition of their award at the wine reception before the gala dinner.