Female tutor with female student Female tutor with female student

Woodfall Primary and Nursery School, Neston

Helen Hough is headteacher at Woodfall School in Neston, Cheshire. She shares why they chose to access tutoring from NTP Tuition Partner Teaching Personnel.

Context

Woodfall is located in Neston, Cheshire and we provide for children ages two through to eleven. We recently opened a nursery and lowered the age range, so now we have 500 children and 68 staff. We are a big semi-rural school in Cheshire West, right on the border with Wirral.

13 per cent of the children are on free school meals and we have 44 children across the whole school that are pupil premium eligible, but what makes us unique is our provision for SEND children. Inclusion and SEND provision has always been a strong feature of the school; we organise our staff in a different way from other schools and are still operating a unit for our most vulnerable SEND children within the school.

Our priority is high-quality teaching. All our staff are well trained and are brilliant at what they do and outcomes for all children are impressive. We received an ​‘Outstanding’ rating from our last Ofsted visit.

The tutoring my daughters were offered opened my eyes to the NTP offer for pupils and schools. I knew we needed to offer our oldest children one-to-one tuition from experienced teachers and we really didn’t want to delay this happening. So I went online and I was really impressed with the NTP website, it was really clear and very easy to navigate. I found Teaching Personnel and got in touch with them

Covid-19

One of the challenges of the first lockdown was reacting to the speed at which it happened. We were able to get packs out to children. We were worried we didn’t have a tight coherent strategy for remote learning for our children at that point, but we soon got Google Classroom up and running and we were ready for the first day back in September 2020 should a bubble need to isolate or if there was another ​‘lockdown’.

We have received much praise and recognition for our online provision from parents during this last lockdown; we haven’t had one complaint; a testament to the school’s strategic approach and it’s insightful governors – it has worked. It’s definitely a testament to the talent of the staff.

When we came out of the first lockdown (June and September 2020) we looked at the children’s wellbeing and analysed where they were academically. Unsurprisingly there was lots of variation; some hadn’t progressed, some had lost nothing. One girl came back with a very advanced reading age because she just loves to read and she had so much time with her parent who loves reading too.

There was a real rustiness with basic skills and our school management team really wanted those misconceptions addressed as quickly as possible.

Strong academic gains in any area were really an exception and we knew we needed to focus on ​‘basic skills’. We needed to give time in the curriculum for teachers to address their findings in their English and Maths lessons in order to close gaps and misconceptions. Our aim for the spring and summer term was to address the gaps within our broader curriculum.

In December when we were sharing our findings from our pupil progress meetings we had quite a list of pupil premium children who hadn’t flourished during lockdown, and these are children who need most support to flourish anyway.

NTP

My daughters, in their GCSE year, have found their studies difficult and their school offered them tutors via a ​‘Graduate’ scheme; and they both chose Biology and received tutoring from graduates. One felt she was better off using her own methods of revision, the other stuck with it, found it helpful and is now flying high.

The tutoring my daughters were offered opened my eyes to the NTP offer for pupils and schools. Staff in school have hitherto led one-to-one tutoring sessions for specific pupils; paid for by the school. I knew we needed to offer our oldest children one-to-one tuition from experienced teachers and we really didn’t want to delay this happening, even though we found ourselves in Lockdown 3 in January 2021.

The NTP made me think differently. It made me think about the number of children who needed support, the pressure on the staff, all within the wider context of Covid-19.

So I went online and I was really impressed with the NTP website, it was really clear and very easy to navigate. I found Teaching Personnel and got in touch with them, and they supported what I wanted for our children without any delay.

I was nervous about miscommunication, but the tutors had Zoom meetings with the school teachers and were working out what each child needed and how to support their learning. They all had meetings to agree what would be taught and the various quirks, obstacles and barriers each child was facing.

Teaching Personnel

I was quite clear with them what I wanted. Given we were in lockdown and the 8th March was looming, I wanted to work quite intensely with the children before schools returned. Teaching Personnel reassured me in terms of the costs to the school given we had the money coming in for catch up. We quickly got support from the parents, without even a quibble.

We liaised with a team of seven experienced teachers from Teaching Personnel to design the programme and the process worked really well. Teaching Personnel listened really carefully, right from the start, and matched their staff with the specific needs of the pupils. They reassured me that their tutors were confident working with young people and had worked in school with disadvantaged children needing support.

Tutor/​teacher collaboration

I was really nervous that there was going to be miscommunication, people don’t always read their emails. But the tutors were liaising with our school staff and within a week, the tutors had had Zoom meetings with the school teachers and were working out what each child needed and how to support their learning. They all had meetings to agree what would be taught and the various quirks, obstacles and barriers each child was facing.

So first week, not one issue. Early feedback was that the online tutoring was going really, really well. Second week, feedback from the children, their parents and the tutors informed me that the learning was going really, really well. By the third week the school teachers, who were delivering online lessons daily as we were still in lockdown, noticed that the children being tutored were more attentive, confident and successful in their daily lessons.

One boy in year 4, has faced challenges and difficulties throughout his life. He has found returning to school after the lockdown last summer highly challenging and his behaviour has reflected this. Teaching Personnel really listened and matched him to a great tutor and it just worked. From the start those two have just clicked and the success has just motored.

Impact

One of our year 5 pupil premium pupils has just been below the radar since Year 1 for English and Maths. She has been subject to Child in Need plans and incredible hardship, even before Covid-19. Her teacher noticed a significant change and engagement since the one-to-one tuition started. She became more confident in answering questions and the positive feedback was gaining momentum. Once back in school after the third lockdown, she took a Renaissance Star adaptive Maths test and saw a 149 point increase in her scaled score points, the highest increase from one test to the next in the whole of our cohort. She is now comfortably achieving within her year group. We are absolutely thrilled.

Another boy, in year 4, has faced challenges and difficulties throughout his life, including bereavement. He has found returning to school after the lockdown last summer highly challenging and his behaviour has reflected this.Teaching Personnel really listened and matched him to a great tutor and it just worked. From the start those two have just clicked and the success has just motored. He did his test today and his scaled score has increased by 66 points. We feel that this new link he has with a new person is reinforcing the fact that he is a learner, that he is a clever child and that he is successful. We are looking at moving him up into the top set because that’s the right thing for him in Maths now.

We have agreed to extend the tutoring, at the school’s cost, for an additional seven hours because it is going so incredibly well. The feedback from parents has been great and they are happy for it to continue for another seven weeks.

Recently, I spoke with a child who I would have described as ​‘invisible’; avoids the limelight, doesn’t want attention, doesn’t have a voice. She has been receiving the tutoring and she was looking me in the eye and beaming today. The teacher had already told her that she was doing really well at Maths and that the teacher had noticed her progress. She was absolutely buzzing. She had already been told but it was clear that she was feeling the success and it has made such a difference to her.

The combination of our teachers, the Teaching Personnel tutors and team (Daniel and Danielle), the catch-up funding and the NTP show there are positive opportunities for schools to take in order for more pupils to thrive, following the disruption to learning in the last 12 months.

We have agreed to extend the tutoring, at the school’s cost, for an additional seven hours because it is going so incredibly well. The feedback from parents has been great and they are happy for it to continue for another seven weeks.

Advice

If asked for advice from other heads, I would say be confident about what you want as an outcome. I was worried about giving the children more screen time during lockdown, but the children have been looking forward to the sessions and the parents have been really positive and practical and have ensured their children are having enough time away from the screen.

Woodfall Primary and Nursery School is in Neston, Cheshire. They are accessing tutoring from NTP Tuition Partner Teaching Personnel.

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