6 October 2022

The Birkenhead Park School has spent two years working with Cradle to Career on an initiative that supports our local Community, and works with schools to improve literacy, amongst other areas. This is an essential life skill as literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively with each other. We use these skills all the time, and it has been proven that reading everyday plays a huge part in increasing literacy, which is why we are delighted to be part of this programme.

Literacy is at the heart of our academic achievement, and the school-wide literacy programme helps raise aspirations amongst students, with sixth form and then university education becoming achievable targets for the vast majority of those that leave us after GCSEs. When students join us from primary school, they all have varying levels of literacy, and our programme is designed to ensure that all students progress upwards. The findings of the report support the impact literacy programme, where various activities and actions contribute to elevating students’ reading ages

Our students have made more than double the literacy progress of the national average, according to their latest report.

The Cradle to Career report concluded that over two years at the Birkenhead Park School, students make outstanding progress measured as +7.1 points, with a progress rate of +3 points being considered as ‘significant’ – making it more than double the nationally notable score.

Students with greater literacy capability are better able to succeed in the full spectrum of the curriculum, from Maths to History or English to Drama, and more likely to be engaged in lessons. This means that they make more academic progress and achieve better qualifications to access the next steps after Year 11.

Assistant Headteacher, Miss Dawes, said: “There is school-wide recognition that reading and vocabulary are the key to academic success and that it is everyone's priority. Our teachers are experienced experts in the field of raising literacy ability across the full range of students’ starting points. If students join us from primary school with a deficiency in reading ability, their skills increase with us; if they join us with excellent reading ability, that increases even further.

“We make it a level playing field for all students, no matter their primary school experience. Everyone is given the chance to be successful in their high school journey.” 

The Literacy Programme includes unique initiatives such as The Big Read, which involves a dedicated 30 minutes’ reading every school day for each student in form time, with books especially selected for every year group with their interests and reading ability in mind.

Other activities are the ‘Word of the Week’ vocabulary introduced in every subject, reading homework and reading tasks set across the curriculum, culminating in an enhanced literacy age for students, which in turn makes them more able to achieve top grades in all of their courses.

Headteacher at The Birkenhead Park School, Mrs Johnson, said: “The Cradle to Career report is gratifying confirmation that what we do here increases the life opportunities for our students, even more so than much of the country. We are in the job of raising aspirations for our students and our goal is the success of every young person that leaves us after GCSEs, whatever path that may be.

“We are passionate about instilling strong literacy in every student, and the innovative programmes we have in place have been demonstrated to be successful. This is clearly pleasing to see from a teacher’s point of view, but most importantly, due to the success of the programmes, the students can access futures that they may not have though possible.

“More than 80% of our students exceeded expected progress through our Literacy Programme, resulting in a huge increase in reading ability significantly above the national reading average. We saw a 53% increase in reading ability that was notably higher than the national reading age standard. Both our staff and students deserve a lot of credit.”