How the programme works
Children aged 9-12 years old attend a weekly session online or in one of our pirate-themed learning centres in Hackney and Haringey. Our qualified teachers led a two hour session. They are joined by a community of volunteers who support reading practice as well as support the children to write stories that are published in exciting real-life publications like books, films and apps.
Through a relentlessly positive environment, adult support and a focus on reading and writing skills practice, we help children make 16 months progress in their reading age. For those children who have fallen behind this creates a crucial boost in skills and confidence so they can better succeed at school.
Our experience as teachers, and extensive research tells us that there are specific challenges faced by children who are quietly under-achieving and have fewer opportunities to catch up. These have been exacerbated by Covid 19.
Our programme is devised and led by teachers, informed by our experience and the evidence about what works. Below is the evidence behind the key activities that believe drive our impact.
Extra adult attention has positive impact on outcomes
Both small group and one to one tuition has an impact on attainment, according to Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)’s Teaching and Training Learning Toolkit review. This review features literacy interventions and highlights a particular impact for lower ability children receiving extra help outside of school hours and where the instructors are skilled teachers or well-trained volunteers.
[EEF, 2016 Teacher Toolkit “One-to-one” and “Small group tuition”]
Great learning takes place in an environment where mistakes can be made
John Hattie’s evidence-based review indicates that expert teachers are able to create an environment where mistakes can be made. According to the review, a good learning environment and challenging goals each have an effect of over half a year’s progress. Our teachers create a safe space for making mistakes and provide tangible challenges to work towards.
[Hattie, 2009: “Visible Learning”; Hattie, 2003: “Teachers make a difference”]
Including redrafting and feedback throughout the writing process improves outcomes and confidence
Reviews of writing interventions by the EEF, as well as the long-standing dialogue about writing process as begun by Donald Graves, shows that teaching the writing process in an active way helps children better understand and improve their own writing. Through our published projects children repeatedly partake in and reflect on all stages of the writing process.
[EEF and National Literacy Trust, 2013: “Transforming Writing”]
A focus on choice improves reading enjoyment
Our reading sessions include best practice for improving Reading for Pleasure, including talking about reading, creating an ethos that celebrates reading and providing the time to choose from high quality texts, all of which help to improve Reading for Pleasure.
[CLPE, 2018: “Reading for Pleasure, What we know works”]
Reading for Pleasure is a key factor in increasing reading frequency
The Department for Education (DfE) paper on Reading for Pleasure indicates that reading for pleasure has a positive impact on broader learning outcomes. The review links an increased reading enjoyment to improved test results and indicates that reading for pleasure is a stronger indicator of academic success than socio economic background.
[DfE, 2012: “Research evidence for reading for pleasure”]
Helping children think about how they learn has a high impact on progress
Metacognitive approaches are widely acknowledged as having large impact, with the EEF saying these approaches add on average 8 months progress. A significant part of metacognition is having a shared language for learning, which has been emphasized by Watkins as well as the EEF’s review of writing interventions. Through modelling, co-construction and guided reflection using tools such as the Pirate Log, we listen to and develop the learning voices of children we work with.
[EEF, 2016: “Metacognition and self regulation”; Watkins, 2010: “Learning, Performance and Improvement”]