Wordblaze case study from Brickhouse Primary School

About your school
Brickhouse is a primary school in Sandwell, educating a large number of disadvantaged children.  We have approximately 200 children on roll (Nursery to Year 6). We used the programme with the whole class Year 4.

Your role
Deputy Headteacher and leader of English,Curriculum, Attendance and Behaviour.

When did your school start using WordBlaze?
We started using WordBlaze in the Spring term 2015 with the whole Year 4 class.
We wanted to improve the spelling abilities of the class, and to get boys more engaged as data showed their writing / spelling was below that of girls.

How do you use WordBlaze?
It was used as a trial in the year 4 class. We adapted the start book due to the children being above the Year 3 start age. A challenge was fitting it in the timetable on a daily basis as the curriculum is so packed, at times we only managed three times weekly but that was consistent with more slots used as available.

What are the benefits of using WordBlaze?
Children have enjoyed using the programme from the start.
Spelling can be seen to have improved in everyday work, and the Hodder spelling test shows that 68% of the class made some or good progress with 10% of the class making good progress.

The resources are well planned and easy to follow. They are colourful and the pupils enjoyed using them.

The teacher handbook describes activities well, although as a key stage 2 teacher and not a teacher of phonics some tasks were more tricky, highlighting our need to train KS2 staff in this area. It clearly takes you through the activities, reducing work load in preparing the session. The CD of resources was really useful, saving staff hours of resource making and linking in well with the activities. It also meant that the resources were well received by the children, consistent in looks and style.

The pace of the process was fast going, and some children struggled to keep up with this as the programme went on.

What did the children think and how did it impact on their learning?
On asking the children their thoughts, the majority thought it was “really fun” and that they enjoyed the content “something different”, and “I like writing a different story”. When asked for a specific like, a child said “I am proud to have my own book to take care of, it’s shinier than my other books” – they enjoyed the professional finish to the texts.

How effective do you think WordBlaze has been in raising reading and spelling attainment in your school and if so why?
65% of the children made some progress in spelling with 10% making good progress.
82% made progress with their reading according to Salford testing, however this cannot be solely attributed to the word blaze system due to other interventions and processes introduced.

Helen Debney, Deputy headteacher Brickhouse Primary School
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