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BLOG | Research focus: Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2
2 December 2021 (by admin)
Our in-house Evidence Lead In Education (ELE), Charlotte Hindley. introduces the newly updated Education Endowment Foundation's (EEF) Key Stage 2 Literacy guidance report. Published 26 November, 2021
Every child has an entitlement to literacy. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, primary literacy is a key priority for many schools on the road to educational recovery. Literacy development is vital for children to equip them with the skills to read, write and be effective communicators; it is also a core component in unlocking learning opportunities, by enabling pupils to access the wider curriculum. For the most disadvantaged in our communities, literacy not only provides an opportunity to close the attainment gap but also has the potential to provide socio-economic equity for pupils and their peers.
Building upon the evidence in the Preparing for Literacy and Improving Literacy in Key Stage One guidance reports, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a second edition of its Improving Literacy in Key Stage Two guidance report. Offering seven practical evidence-based recommendations, the guidance report takes into account the latest research and developments in evidence and exemplifies high-quality practice for teachers and leaders.
The core principle underpinning the updated guidance report is that the most effective literacy practice is founded upon high-quality teaching opportunities for all pupils, specifically the most disadvantaged and those who find literacy a struggle. The vignettes at the start of each recommendation spark professional debate and discussion and support teachers to reflect upon what constitutes effective practice in the classroom.
Literacy is a complex process: encompassing reading, writing plus pupils’ oral language development. It is important that we recognise that these skills work as connected components and contribute to pupils’ competencies and confidence in literacy.
The updated guidance report has been updated to include the ‘Reading Comprehension’ house (an adaptation of the model devised by Hogan, Bridge, Justice and Cain 2011). This model further develops our understanding of the dual dimensions of Reading: decoding and comprehension that we have seen illustrated in a more simplified form in the Simple View of Reading and Scarborough Reading Rope before. Reading Comprehension is now clearly illustrated as a complex process that is underpinned by two pillars: Word Reading and Language Comprehension. These in turn are supported by other building blocks that build upon one another and are connected.
For example, in addition to having phonological awareness (an understanding of the sound structures in language) pupils must also develop their Knowledge of Print (an understanding that sounds are represented in writing) to decode and eventually develop word reading skills. Pupils need to be explicitly taught to develop each of these skills to enable them to independently integrate them to be strategic readers.
Explicit modelling and regular opportunities for guided practice are essential in developing pupils’ literacy skills. Over time, support can be gradually withdrawn to enable pupils to self-regulate and apply their literacy skills independently, but it cannot be left to chance that pupils will use these skills instinctively. Some children may learn to read and develop literacy behaviours more naturally than others: those who don’t, benefit greatly from these strategies. High-quality teaching of literacy is essential to some, helpful to many and harmful to none.