Initiatives to promote literacy across early years settings and schools.

Literacy  is an essential building block for learning. Pupils who achieve high standards in literacy are more likely to succeed at school, achieve good qualifications, and subsequently progress to a rewarding career.

Poor standards of literacy make individuals and communities more vulnerable to inequality, increasing the risk of social exclusion and undermining social mobility.


At age five, the proportion of children in Hastings achieving communication and language goals is above the national average, but from age six, children in Hastings start to fall behind their peers nationally with disadvantaged pupils falling behind the most.

In 2016, pupils made less progress in reading between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 than their peers across England, with 54% of disadvantaged pupils (54%) leaving primary school with a reading level below the expected standard.


In 2016 at secondary school, 65% of pupils in Hastings achieved a grade C or above in English in 2016, dropping to 48% amongst disadvantaged pupils. This compares to 75% of pupils nationally .

The challenges facing our schools are best understood by the teachers and staff at the schools themselves. For this reason, we launched a literacy fund of £250k which all early years providers, schools and colleges are able to apply for, to implement evidence based approaches to improve literacy.

So far we have commissioned seven projects:

1) Destination Reader

Destination Reader is a programme developed by Hackney Learning Trust to improve the teaching of reading. Feedback from over 100 schools currently using Destination Reader has shown dramatic improvement in the quality of reading lessons at key stage two. Children read with greater understanding, independence and, above all, enjoy reading more.

This programme is currently being rolled out to pupils in the following schools;  The Baird Primary Academy, Churchwood Primary Academy, Hollington Primary Academy, Robsack Wood Primary Academy and Silverdale Primary Academy.  Other schools in Hastings are already using this programme, and All Saints CE Junior School is a partner school for the programme.

The goals are to:

  • Raise attainment and progress in reading so that more pupils overall reach the expected standard and acquire greater depth in reading
  • Close the gaps in reading attainment and progress between disadvantaged pupils and their peers nationally

2) Easy Peasy

EasyPeasy is a parenting app for parents and carers of 2-6 year old children that encourages positive play and interaction at home through game ideas. The project aims to improve children’s self-regulation and communication and language skills. The project will:

  • Launch the free app in each of the eight primaries (below)
  • Provide parents with training workshops on how to use and interact with the app
  • Offer parents further home learning activities that will support language and communication development
  • Schools will offer ‘stay and play’ afternoons, inviting parents to play with their child in the structured environment whilst receiving advice and guidance from teaching staff.

This project aims to raise attainment in communication, language and self-regulation skills in 3 – 6 year olds at Ark Castledown Primary Academy, Ark Blacklands Primary Academy, Ark Little Ridge Primary Academy, The Baird Primary Academy, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, St Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School, Robsack Wood Primary Academy, Torfield School, West St Leonard’s Primary Academy, Silverdale Primary Academy and Dudley Infant Academy.

3) Mind the (word) gap

Children that have a reduced vocabulary – a ‘word gap’ – can struggle to achieve success in school and beyond. The aim of the project is to reduce the attainment gap in reading at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 by improving vocabulary skills through a teacher research group approach. The group will review the research on this issue and develop approaches to improve pupils’ vocabulary.

Children will be actively supported, through quality teaching, to improve their comprehension skills and fluency. This will enable them to become more confident readers and to access better the wider curriculum.

The ultimate aim of this project is to improve the pupils vocabulary and literacy at Sandown Primary School, Ore Village Primary Academy, The Hastings Academy and St Paul’s CE Primary Academy.

4.) Teacher training inset day

We have funded teachers from across Hasting’s primary schools to attend an inset day  to support them to increase children’s engagement and attainment in reading across reception and key stage one. Teachers attending the course learnt how to improve children’s fluency in reading and their comprehensive of challenging texts. They alsolearnt about how to support children to develop into confident, competent and motivated readers. Training was delivered by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education

5.) Teaching assistant comprehension training

Teaching Assistants from across Hastings, also took part in a oneday reading comprehension training event. The aims of the training were to build teaching assistants knowledge and skills to teach reading comprehension for children and young people with SEND. Training wasdelivered by the Driver Youth Trust.

6.) Real Creative

REAL Creative is a programme designed to Raise Early Achievement in Literacy (REAL). ift. Trained practitioners from local cultural organisations work will work with eight early years organisations and small groups of children and parents.

REAL Creative builds on the work of the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) REAL programme, an evidence based to approach developed by academics at the University of Sheffield and is being delivered by Culture Shift and FSN. The programme supports parents and children to work together to develop early literacy.  The programme includes two home visits, a library visit and a series of creative events, delivered in partnership with the programme’s four arts practitioners: Ed Boxall, Anne Colvin, Kevin Graal and Rebecca Fifield and cultural venues, Hastings Museum, De La Warr Pavilion and Jerwood Gallery. All involved have been trained in the REAL approach by the National Children’s Bureau and are familiar with the four strands of early literacy at the heart of the programme: oral language, early mark making, a love of books and environmental print. All the events are structured around creating opportunities for parents and carers to interact with their children and recognise and support these early steps in literacy.

The project is running in  Silverdale Nursery, St Leonards, St Nick’s Nursery, St Leonards Ore Church Mice Pre-school, In2Play Nursery at The Bridge in Ore, Jigsaw Nursery at the YMCA St Leonards and Greenways Nursery in Hastings Town Centre.

7.Communication for Learning: SEND’

The aim of this project is to produce high quality resources to support teachers to meet the needs of SEN children with additional speech and language needs.

The project will:  

  •       Provide support through a training programme and the development of resources to enable staff from Torfield and Saxon Mount Schools and staff from participating schools to effectively meet the needs of pupils with communication difficulties.
  •       Support the development of web based resources that embed training and teaching materials which will be accessible to participating schools and ultimately to all schools in the opportunity area.

Class teachers and TAs in participating schools will access teaching, assessment and tracking resources and training to enable them to deliver and review Speech and Language support through class teaching and interventions.   Participating schools in the project are Torfield, Ark Castledown, Little Ridge and Blacklands, Ark Helenswood and William Parker, Churchwood and Hollington.