Oxford High Prep School

'We started looking into using Literacy Tree plans about 3 years ago. We wanted to adopt a book basked approach throughout the school and ensure there was consistency in what we were teaching. We began by trialling it in Year 3, using the book ‘The Heart and the Bottle’ by Oliver Jeffers. Right from day one of teaching this sequence the girls were captivated, and so motivated to write. One of the first things we noticed was how their vocabulary and sentence structure improved. At the end of this sequence the girls ‘published’ their own books and we invited our headteacher to a ‘book launch’ where she came and signed each one. There was a real buzz of excitement in the room and you could see how proud each of them were of their writing. 

We introduced the planning sequences and started embedding them into our Medium Term Planning in the Summer Term, where possible also linking it to humanities topics. Staff were excited to choose which texts they would use in the next academic year. One of the things I very quickly noticed was the high quality of the texts, they have clearly been chosen carefully and not only elicit a love of reading but also often convey an important message. 

Our INSET day, run by Lynn, was fantastic and teachers are now confidently embedding the teaching of grammar into their lessons and making use of working walls. We have also had a consultancy day where each year group had time to plan their next text, with a focus on differentiation, this has helped us to ensure we are getting the best out of each individual child.

We are now two years in to using the Literacy Tree plans. Planning sequences are simple to follow, full of innovative ideas and often come with resources attached. The quality of writing in school has significantly improved, and the plans support our creative yet academic culture. Not only has our girls’ work improved but the ethos of English teaching has changed in school. Teachers can readily see the importance, and benefits, of embedding the teaching of grammar into teaching through a text. Pupils are writing creatively, independently and are inspired by the range of books they are reading whilst also having a secure knowledge of the relevant grammar. On a learning walk last year, I noted how reading comprehension was happening on a daily basis through in depth conversations and brilliant questioning from teachers.

The range of writing outcomes is fantastic to see, I recently taught my Reception class ‘Hairy Maclary’ and they loved it! Phonics is embedded throughout the Reception sequences and the quality of the girls writing is like nothing I have seen before. 

We have also shared our love of Literacy Tree with other Girls Day School Trust Schools, a few of whom have since also adopted the approach.'

Molly Aylward, Head of EYFS and previous Head of English at Oxford High Prep School

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