Whole-School Excellence Through Literacy Adventures
March 1, 2018 | 5years | Case Studies
In Estyn's 2013 inspection report, there were 355 pupils at St Philip Evans R.C. Primary School. The school is in an English-speaking part of South Wales. About 40% of pupils learn English as an additional language, and speak other languages at home. About a quarter of pupils are entitled to receive free school meals. The school identifies 17% of pupils as having additional learning needs, nearly all of whom have moderate learning difficulties. No pupil has a statement of special educational needs.
The school’s performance and prospects for improvement were rated ‘Excellent’. In September 2016, St Philip Evans R.C. Primary School set out to secure the very best practice in reading. The school leaders and staff embraced Giglets following the recommendation of a leading literacy expert in Welsh education, Helen Bowen.
The ChallengesThe staff at St Philip Evans R.C. Primary School wanted to raise attainment through improving pupil engagement and encouraging independence in reading. To accomplish those goals, pupils needed easy access to engaging, relevant and meaningful texts that offered a suitable level of challenge. In a very busy school, staff also hoped to save time and ensure consistent questioning around texts, all while keeping their budget in mind. This was to be done through using the interactive reading test questions and higher-order thinking questions that support each book on Giglets, which fit the school’s budget well. The school adopted a two-year rolling programme to get to grips with Giglets:
2016/17 - To get started, the staff chose first to focus on Giglets during Guided Group Reading and whole-class reading sessions, and also assigned books to read at home. The Giglets library is unlimited, and teachers can share as many copies as they need for reading in class and at home.
2017/18 - In the second year, staff introduced whole-class texts and tackled the rich, cross-curricular learning tasks.
ImplementationSince Giglets works across all major browsers and devices, no directly associated hardware expenditure nor other software expenditure was required from a budget point of view. The staff took a brilliant approach to implementing Giglets. They took time to select books with associated higher-order thinking skills questions, reading test question sets and rich literacy tasks for each year group. They then set those in a schedule to be followed throughout the year. In applying a consistent approach to planning, the staff ensured that pupils would build on previous learning as they moved through the school and developed their skills.
One year on, did things go as planned?Using Giglets in the 2016/2017 school year, staff at St Philip Evans R.C. Primary School in South Wales were able to:
- Challenge MAT pupils and improve their attainment in reading;
- Decrease the gender gap in boys’ and girls’ attainment by 17.5% since 2016; and
- Decrease the number of children reading below their chronological age (in KS2 Reading Tests), from 14% (September 2016) to 6% (July 2017).
Developing independence and a love of readingWhat the pupils say:
“I love Giglets because it helps me read at home and it makes me want to read more books. It helps everyone and it inspires more pupils in school to read. It is good for schools because the teachers want more children to be interested in reading different types of genres for example, mystery, fantasy, fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, realistic fiction. It is good to read!”
Danella, favourite book: Trees (an illustrated poem)
“I love Giglets because it is so fun and addictive. I’ve always loved reading, but I love it even more since we started using Giglets. It makes it really fun since you can use all sorts of tools. My personal favourite is the highlighter tool, because you can use it to mark interesting vocabulary.”
Carmelo, favourite book: The Flight of Icarus (an animated adapted classic story)
“The reason I love having Giglets as a platform for reading is because for me, it makes reading much easier. In Giglets, you can customise what you’re reading to have vibrant colours, which sustains my attention throughout the book. In addition, it is a platform that is easily accessible to most children nowadays. I believe Giglets is the best platform to use if you want to read!”
Leigha, favourite book: Alice in Wonderland (original classic story)
Catherine Power, Head Teacher at St Philip Evans R.C. Primary School (and 2013 Head Teacher of the Year in Wales) said:
"Giglets has engaged all pupils as the texts are stimulating, age appropriate and inter-active. It has improved standards in reading as the pupils are able to engage with a wide range of texts and are challenged through a range of higher order thinking skills ques-tions and literacy rich tasks. We have used Giglets from Nursery to Year 6 and it has had a positive impact on pupil engagement in all year groups."
Within the Giglets online book library, schools have access to an unlimited number of copies of each text. Since Giglets does not charge on a per-head or per-book basis, schools can budget for and feel confident that the service will deliver all that they need within a straightforward annual or multi-year budget. By purchasing Giglets for three years, it means that schools can plan ahead and truly invest in the future of their school library and literacy development.