The Literacy Leaders’ Project at Whitefield School

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Whitefield School is a unique and exciting school and one of the most improved schools in the country with a global student body that speaks over 70 different languages. As an Academy and the first Full Service Extended School in Barnet they are renowned for their community links. Staff and students have spoken at national conferences about their community outreach work and in December 2009 they achieved the Cultural Diversity Quality Standard Gold Award.

English Leaders and Fronter – The Literacy Leaders’ Project
The project was created to celebrate the success of high achieving English students in year 11 and to promote literacy across the school. There were two types of responsibilities given to the English leaders; the first was pairing them up with year 7 students who had been identified as having low reading ages, but were receiving no intervention other than what was happening in the classroom. Each week, the year 11 and year 7 students would meet in the library where, in their pairs, they would have a guided reading session with the aim of developing word level and whole text comprehension. The second responsibility was for an English Help Forum; any students from year 7 could pose an English based question on the forum and the English leaders were then responsible for answering it accurately.

Role of Fronter in supporting the project
It was on Fronter that the forum was created. All students had access in (at the very least) and out of school, so questions could be asked and answered at any time.

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Impact
The English Help Forum has been a surprising success. The English leaders reported that they found it extremely helpful when answering these questions; they said that, in order to ensure accuracy, they first had to understand the skills fully. This often involved reference to their notes or independent research and proved beneficial, because the skills that discussed are those that will be present in their exams. They also had to adapt their language to suit their audience. This, again, is a skill on which they are examined . The year 7 students produced better homework; there was greater care in what was being produced and accuracy in their responses, because they had independently sought out what they needed. Using the forum as a mode of communication encouraged reluctant learners to problem solve and develop their own learning, in turn boosting their confidence, and fostered a sense of pride and confidence, particularly with the year 11s, in the answers they were giving and the acknowledgement of their expertise.

“The English Help Forum has been so successful that, from next year, it will be rolled out for the entire school (and teachers)!” 
Clare Thompson
Director for English

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