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What the inspectors saw - Good practice spotted by Ofsted

Technology-driven English: Alwoodley Primary School

Technology-driven English: Alwoodley Primary School

In brief

Jane Langley, headteacher at Alwoodley Primary School, wanted to use technology to improve standards in English. Pupils are encouraged to experiment with different forms of communication, understand how language changes to meet specific demands and appreciate the importance of improving early drafts.

The project

The school invested in "high-quality hardware, software and human support," Langley says. There are 30 computers, and mini laptops for use in class and at home. Year 6 pupils also have access to 30 Apple Macs to "extend their creativity and provide extra challenge".

Year 4 pupils, for example, made leaflets about Whitby. The children used the internet to research a place few had been to, and computers to edit and refine the leaflets. Skills learned in ICT lessons helped them to improve their writing and target their audience more effectively.

Boys' range of reading is widened by combining stories they enjoy with graphics, games and animation. There is a strong emphasis on using ICT to develop speaking and listening skills, with cameras used from Reception upwards.

Younger pupils film their discussions and role plays and interview other pupils about their work. Older pupils study moving image texts and create their own: in one task, pupils read a picture book and the images were scanned and studied by other children who added sounds and words to create a different type of text.

Examples of other activities observed by Ofsted inspectors include:

Reception class children programming a "floor robot" to collect letters as they practise their phonic sounds and use the letters to form words.

Year 2 pupils watching a film about climate change and using a software package to make their own film.

Year 3 pupils creating their own animated calligrams - poems, phrases or words arranged to create an image of what they are describing.

Year 5 pupils comparing film, internet and poem versions of the story of Hercules - and creating their own version before redrafting, using a computer program.

Staff use ICT in English lessons only when it will enhance pupils' learning and make a clear distinction between teaching ICT and teaching with ICT. Langley says her question to staff is always: "Can we do this better without using ICT?"

Signs of success

In 2012, 89 per cent of boys and 92 per cent of girls achieved level 4 in English, and 36 per cent of boys and 54 per cent of girls achieved level 5 - both well above the national average. Some 93 per cent made expected progress in English, compared with a national average of 89 per cent. The school frequently hosts visiting teachers from other schools who have been keen to find out how they can improve their own use of ICT.

What the inspectors said

"ICT is closely integrated into all lessons as a way of helping pupils to develop their work in English across reading, writing, speaking and listening... there is a particularly positive picture in writing and the achievement of boys."

Read the full Ofsted case study report at bit.ly10h4NyU


Name: Alwoodley Primary School

Location: Leeds

Type: Mixed junior school and nursery

Age range: 3-11

Number of pupils: Around 500

Intake: Diverse, with half of pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds.

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