The importance of equity
The Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust (the LAAT) consists of 21 schools across the Lincolnshire Diocese, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Our LAAT motto has always been three words: excellence, exploration and encouragement, but since the pandemic, we have been increasingly drawn to the word equity.
Being an Educational Development Adviser in the Trust, who also leads on Pupil Premium, equity is very much at the centre of our decision making in order to ensure all our children (and staff) flourish no matter what their background or challenges they face.
External visitors to schools, often refer to a group of children as ‘the lowest 20%’; as a Trust we have made a conscious decision to use the term ‘First 20%’. These are the children that are facing barriers to achieving good outcomes, and some of these children could well achieve the higher standard if their needs are met – there are no ‘capped ceilings’ within our schools, hence the term ‘First’ and not ‘lowest’.
Every year, to ensure that our schools maximise the use of the Pupil Premium Funding, a Pupil Premium workshop is held to give senior leaders and business and operations partners up to date research, practical advice, and an opportunity to network.
A new solution
Our Trust data for the academic year 2023 identified that we were narrowing the gap between children in receipt of Pupil Premium compared to their peers in phonics and at the end of Key Stage Two in writing and maths. Children in receipt of Pupil premium obtaining the higher standard in reading, writing and maths were also closing well.
However, reading remained a stubborn gap and engagement of parents was also a Trust-wide issue. It was time to think outside the box on how to address this. I learned about the charity Learning with Parents through some online research and considered it to be a possibility that might bridge the gap we were looking for in both our areas. To this end, Maeve, a representative from the charity came to share the online learning platform at our workshop. This does away with the tatty home reading record logs that get chewed up by the dog, misplaced or covered in juice!
Instead, it is an online interactive reading system. It is parent friendly because they can log onto any device, including mobile phones and it is a secure site without them having to remember usernames and passwords.
They can use their device to record an audio or video of their child reading while they are washing the pots or taking a car ride. Uploading it is quick and very simple. It also reduces teacher workload as they can see on one screen who has read/not read at home without chasing record books or having a TA sign off each one. This allows them to prioritise children who need to read at school, so no child slips through the net because their reading record is misplaced.
Increased engagement from parents
Schools trialing this have already reported an increased engagement from parents and children more enthusiastic about reading at home. Surprisingly, those children conscious of their reading feel less conscious about reading aloud when there is an audio recording of them instead of having to read aloud to the teacher at school. This allows the teacher to still hear the progress a child is making in their reading without having to listen to them directly.
There are also other elements to the learning platform that provides fun Maths and English activities to carry out at home with parents using every-day items. Something to explore in the next academic year.
Following the success of the Pupil Premium workshop, Learning with Parents also came to our LAAT Conference entitled Powered by Equity: Making Learning Count For All. We had four amazing speakers and a thriving marketplace consisting of eighteen stalls in total, all of which supported our theme of equity.
I am delighted that our Trust has begun this partnership with Learning with Parents and can only see it going from strength to strength. Thank goodness for charities such as these who have the same desire to ensure all children flourish.
School Development Advisor