Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Site map Arabic Urdu Slovenian Farsi Chinese French

Agenda item

'Once upon a School Project'

-       Presentation by Deborah Bullivant


Deborah Bullivent, Inspire, gave the following presentation:-


Facts about Literacy in Rotherham

Key Stage 2 attainment 2012:

        In Yorkshire, 6% of schools were performing below floor targets

        Reading – 81% of Rotherham and 82% of Sheffield children, against the national average of 86%, attained Level 4 or above

        Writing - 77% of Rotherham, 79% Sheffield children achieved Level 4 against the national average of 81%

        The gap was significantly greater for those families classed as being in the 10% most disadvantaged areas, and increasing each year (apart from the period of RDA project)


Difference made by Inspire projects on 10% most deprived

        11.4% improvement in English at KS2 across the board

        11.8% improvement in level 4+ reading for boys

        11% improvement in level 4+ writing for boys

        22.6% improvement in reading at level 4+ for EAL pupils


Where is the Rotherham’s literacy strategy placed in Rotherham’s planning in 2013

        Build a literacy volunteer framework

        Read/Write for Pleasure Ambassadors

        Invest in the quality of interactions children had inside and outside the home in relation to print and books

        Ensure there were spaces for literacy which were engaging and conducive to inspiring the thirst for literacy learning

        Ensure children and young people could experience something radically different, something inspirational which injected some energy into the learning

        Enable shared experiences across year groups (older children mentoring)

        Break the cycle of low aspirations in families

        A development of outreach learning programmes which reached families who were often marginalised

        Family Learning Strategy

        Parent involvement

        Extend the reach of literacy – in terms of space, developing new imaginative spaces where children and young people’s skills could be extended


Once Upon a School


Story Festival 2013

        Was there an appetite for this in Rotherham?

        Awards for All Lottery funding and now with volunteers as funding was complete

        36 sessions of learning since February half term

        Hardly any advertising so far

        All children received a Children’s University passport

        209 family members had engaged in at least 3 hours of learning since the Festival began

        129 children had undertaken from 3 hours to 27 hours (9 different sessions) of learning each so far

        36 volunteers (75% of these were out of work adults) had signed up

        Feedback was good to outstanding – “Rotherham children need something like this”, “it doesn’t feel like learning but it is”, “my son said this was the best day of his life, and I agree with him”.

        Children were writing stories in their own time as a choice.


Discussion ensued with the following issues raised/clarified:-


-          Ministry of Stories was the shop in London, hoped to be replicated in Rotherham


-          The project was thriving – the work was all free even to schools by bringing in outside funding and selling products in the shop which were designed and contained stories written by the children


-          The Ministry of Stories had advertised for franchises of which Rotherham had been successful


-          Each franchise had a different theme – Manchester=superheros – Bristol=inventors – Blackpool=sea creatures – Brighton=weird and strange.  Rotherham=magical creatures


-          Initially Magical Creatures Supply Co. (Rotherham) had occupied shop premises on Corporation Street but would be relocating to first floor premises temporarily


-          The children would come via community engagement, local engagement, referrals from Children’s Services and other agencies.  The facility would also accommodate/work with children with mental health problems


-          Important to stress family learning to encourage parents to read to their children


-          The project wanted to support the Town Centre but was difficult to find a property which also had outdoor space.  If that was not possible there was the opportunity to have “pop ups” that could be taken to other spaces.  The design company had suggested creating a room in the building that was an enchanted forest so the outside could be brought inside


-          Needed to draw schools’ attention to the project


-          Imagination Library to be built into the project


Deborah was thanked for her presentation.


Resolved:-  That Karen Smith draw attention to the project at the Learning Communities meeting and request that it be included on the agenda of the Joint Heads meeting.