In the 2012 school year, Hollyfield Primary School received £48,024 of Pupil Premium funding. One of the key things we wanted to achieve with the funding was to help those pupils who struggle with reading and writing to improve their literacy skills and confidence. So, we decided to invest some of this money in Crick Software’s literacy support tool Clicker.
We chose Clicker because it is recommended in the ICT Scheme of Work that the school follows. Having seen it in action, we realised that it had potential not only to help us in ICT lessons, but to support writing across the curriculum.
We have been primarily using Clicker with a group of 15 reluctant / struggling writers in Year 4, and I'm really pleased with the progress they have been making. It has enabled those who are held back by the process of writing to write without worrying so much or becoming preoccupied with the neatness of their handwriting.
I’m finally seeing these children write what I knew they were capable of writing – it gives them the tools they need to independently achieve their potential.
My pupils’ favourite thing about Clicker is definitely the way in which it reads back their sentences to them. Many of these children struggle with sentence construction and this ability to listen back to their work enables them to make much more sense of what they are trying to put together. They also love the vocabulary banks we are able to provide them with – it really helps them to get past that dreaded blank page syndrome! For my part, I have seen how these banks have broadened the pupils’ vocabulary knowledge and encouraged them to use a wider selection of relevant topic or descriptive words in their writing.
I would have to say that my favourite thing about Clicker is that I’m finally seeing these children write what I knew they were capable of writing – it gives them the tools they need to independently achieve their potential. The children are producing so much more work than they were able to with a pencil and paper, and whilst their progress was previously limited by the difficulties they experienced with handwriting, spelling etc., they are now able to record their ideas and understanding to an extent that was previously beyond them.
The way in which Clicker engages these pupils is also vital. Those that had been finding writing difficult had started to actively dislike writing, which was having a knock-on effect on their behaviour in class. With Clicker they are genuinely happy and excited to write, and as a result are both working and behaving better.
Ben* is a great example of the difference Clicker has been making in our school. Ben was an extremely reluctant writer – even with support he would only be able to write a sentence per lesson, and this was a painful process. He got very frustrated by the way his handwriting looked, and disheartened by getting things wrong. He had really great ideas, but just couldn’t get them down on the page. Now that he is using Clicker he is producing paragraphs of work, is much more confident and his progress levels have greatly improved.
I would strongly recommend that other schools take a look at Clicker. We are planning on extending the use of Clicker now that we are more familiar with the software and recognise its potential to raise the literacy standards of not only our struggling writers, but pupils of all abilities. Its flexibility makes it a really cost-effective way to develop reading and writing skills across the school.
*Name has been changed