Evidence of improvement in learners’ achievements, retention and progression
The teacher perceived a large improvement in appetite towards spelling. The learners became keener, as the weeks progressed, to attempt to spell words. They actively prepared to participate by asking what the letter of the week was, or for wipe-boards and pens, so they were ready. Learners who initially refused to try became more readily involved and started writing words on the wipe-boards. This was because of the positive learning environment and attitude of all staff involved, as the emphasis was on trying rather than spelling a word correctly first time. Also, repetition of spelling practice improved students’ confidence and aided retention though required flexibility of approach and phonics knowledge, from staff, to ensure understanding. So improved spelling, however minimal, was a by-product.
Support staff perspective
All four support staff who were involved supported the teacher view and noted observation of an improvement of the students’ confidence, mindset and appetite towards spelling.
In addition, support staff felt that they were able to allow these students more independence to complete the work themselves as the weeks progressed, as prior knowledge was being retained and used.
Overall reflective feedback from students who participated was very positive and all responded that they felt more confident about trying to spell. For a closer inspection of improvement three students were selected as case studies.
Findings showed that students with prior knowledge of basic phonics were better able to take on board Post-16 Phonics and progress. The project identified those with gaps in basic phonics code and allowed practices and approaches to be amended to allow all students to have the option for progression.
In addition, using a reflective approach encompassing all involved (students, support staff, teacher) enabled a greater buy-in from all parties as it increased value in the learning environment and an improved mindset towards spelling.