Ambitious project sees young children in South Yorkshire receive specialist literacy support in their own homes

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An ambitious project in South Yorkshire will see young children given specialist support with reading and writing in their own homes.

Nursery children joining four primary schools in Doncaster, Sheffield and Thurnscoe, will be first to benefit from the home literacy programme, which is being funded by SHINE.

Thanks to a grant of almost £100,000, early years practitioners will work with nursery new starters and their families in their homes.

Evidence suggests that working with families in their homes has many positive effects. It raises children’s attainment; increases parents’ knowledge about learning and literacy; and strengthens home-to-school relationships.

Supporting families at home will benefit children’s literacy for years to come.

Dr Helen Rafferty Interim CEO, SHINE

During four home visits, over the course of a year, children and their parents will engage in every-day family literacy activities such as writing shopping lists, sharing books, and singing nursery rhymes together.

The project aims to increase the children’s enjoyment of books, leading to higher literacy skills when they start Reception next year. Each visit will be planned to the child’s individual needs.

The exciting programme is being led by the Astrea Academy Trust and the first schools to take part are Intake Primary School, Sheffield, Kingfisher Primary, Doncaster, The Hill Primary Academy, Rotherham and Astrea Academy, Sheffield.

In the project’s pilot stage, eight new nursery starters from each school will take part.

Then, over the following three years, the programme will be rolled out to a further 10 primary schools.

The practitioners taking part will share their experiences with peers across the trust to build professional learning communities and embed early years literacy expertise.

Eventually it is hoped the scheme could be replicated in schools across South Yorkshire.

Dr Helen Rafferty, SHINE’s interim CEO, said: “SHINE are delighted to be supporting the development of this critically important work with children and families in South Yorkshire. Supporting families at home will benefit children’s literacy for years to come, and we’re excited to learn about the expansion of this programme over the course of our partnership.”

Deb Shorthouse, Project Lead, at the Astrea Academy Trust, said: “Giving children a strong start in reading and writing sets them up for success at school and in later life – and there’s no better place to build those foundations than in their homes, working alongside parents.

“We cannot wait to begin working in partnership with the families and to giving our youngest children the best possible start to their school journeys.”

Rowena Hackwood, CEO of the Astrea Academy Trust, added: “Literacy is an absolute priority across Astrea Academy Trust. We are committed to helping all our pupils develop the sound early skills in reading and writing we know to be critical for a successful education.

“As the pandemic has shown, children’s experiences and opportunities differ greatly. That is why I am incredibly grateful to SHINE for supporting this project and our ambition to ensure high literacy achievement in our schools.”

Throughout the three-year project, its impact on children’s development will be evaluated.

The baseline attainment of the children taking part will be measured before, during and after the implementation of the project. This will involve measuring children’s attainment against the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum and from other early literacy assessment tools. A control group will enable a comparison of attainment outcomes in order to demonstrate impact.

The views of parents, pupils and practitioners will be evaluated through regular interviews and questionnaires.

Practioners will keep reflective journals which will support them in the identification of further support and training.

Based on the learnings of the practitioners, the project lead will design and implement a training package, so that other schools can successfully replicate the programme.

The home-learning activities that the children will take part in are based around the Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Model (ORIM) framework (Hannon, 1995) and focus on adults’ roles as they provide opportunities, recognition, interaction and models for the four strands of early literacy development ­- environmental print, books, oral language and writing.

An ambitious project in South Yorkshire will see young children given specialist support with reading and writing in their own homes.

Nursery children joining four primary schools in Doncaster, Sheffield and Thurnscoe, will be first to benefit from the home literacy programme, which is being funded by SHINE.

Thanks to a grant of almost £100,000, early years practitioners will work with nursery new starters and their families in their homes.

Evidence suggests that working with families in their homes has many positive effects. It raises children’s attainment; increases parents’ knowledge about learning and literacy; and strengthens home-to-school relationships.

During four home visits, over the course of a year, children and their parents will engage in every-day family literacy activities such as writing shopping lists, sharing books, and singing nursery rhymes together.

The project aims to increase the children’s enjoyment of books, leading to higher literacy skills when they start Reception next year. Each visit will be planned to the child’s individual needs.

As the pandemic has shown, children’s experiences and opportunities differ greatly. That is why I am incredibly grateful to SHINE for supporting this project and our ambition to ensure high literacy achievement in our schools.

Rowena Hackwood CEO of the Astrea Academy Trust

The exciting programme is being led by the Astrea Academy Trust and the first schools to take part are Intake Primary School, Sheffield, Kingfisher Primary, Doncaster, The Hill Primary Academy, Rotherham and Astrea Academy, Sheffield.

In the project’s pilot stage, eight new nursery starters from each school will take part.

Then, over the following three years, the programme will be rolled out to a further 10 primary schools.

The practitioners taking part will share their experiences with peers across the trust to build professional learning communities and embed early years literacy expertise.

Eventually it is hoped the scheme could be replicated in schools across South Yorkshire.

Dr Helen Rafferty, SHINE’s interim CEO, said: “SHINE are delighted to be supporting the development of this critically important work with children and families in South Yorkshire. Supporting families at home will benefit children’s literacy for years to come, and we’re excited to learn about the expansion of this programme over the course of our partnership”

Deb Shorthouse, Project Lead, at the Astrea Academy Trust, said: “Giving children a strong start in reading and writing sets them up for success at school and in later life – and there’s no better place to build those foundations than in their homes, working alongside parents.

“We cannot wait to begin working in partnership with the families and to giving our youngest children the best possible start to their school journeys.”

Rowena Hackwood, CEO of the Astrea Academy Trust, added: “Literacy is an absolute priority across Astrea Academy Trust. We are committed to helping all our pupils develop the sound early skills in reading and writing we know to be critical for a successful education.

“As the pandemic has shown, children’s experiences and opportunities differ greatly. That is why I am incredibly grateful to SHINE for supporting this project and our ambition to ensure high literacy achievement in our schools.”

Throughout the three-year project, its impact on children’s development will be evaluated.

The baseline attainment of the children taking part will be measured before, during and after the implementation of the project. This will involve measuring children’s attainment against the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum and from other early literacy assessment tools. A control group will enable a comparison of attainment outcomes in order to demonstrate impact.

The views of parents, pupils and practitioners will be evaluated through regular interviews and questionnaires.

Practioners will keep reflective journals which will support them in the identification of further support and training.

Based on the learnings of the practitioners, the project lead will design and implement a training package, so that other schools can successfully replicate the programme.

The home-learning activities that the children will take part in are based around the Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction and Model (ORIM) framework (Hannon, 1995) and focus on adults’ roles as they provide opportunities, recognition, interaction and models for the four strands of early literacy development ­- environmental print, books, oral language and writing.