DHS focus on language development to help them achieve the best possible outcomes for the students they teach. They use Bedrock to support that focus.
In conversation with Suzie Johnson, Director of English
How does Bedrock tie into your priorities as a school?
From an exam perspective, obviously the demands of the new GCSE means that all of our students have got to cope with 20th century non fiction, 19th century non fiction, 21st century fiction etc and the vocabulary is quite demanding, and so we see an improvement in their understanding of that, which also ties into our starter activities because we’re trying to expose them to lots of little chunks of text so they can see lots of different text types. But then we realised as well that the vocabulary demands of History and Geography have gone up massively as well, but they didn’t really know what to do about it, so we feel like we’re underpinning and helping the whole curriculum as well.
In terms of thinking about the individual student, one of our whole school priorities is to create students that can function successfully in a global society so again, language is access to all of those things, being a great communicator is crucial and because we’re in a rural part of Norfolk as well…so by giving them that language, hopefully it’s going to make them more ambitious and aspirational and see what’s happening beyond their local community as well.
How do you implement Bedrock?
We use Bedrock in lots of different ways. Bedrock is now used in Year 7 and 8 tutor time one morning a week. That’s been really good for students to see that it’s not just something that is isolated to English and it’s got staff from across the curriculum aware of what Bedrock does as well. We also do it as a homework because we’re saying that roughly it takes 15 minutes to do one lesson, so the target is to do two lessons a week and then we follow that up in lessons.
In addition to that, we’ve now got three literacy groups, year 8, 9 and 10. And so Bedrock is used to structure part of that lesson as well, whether it be the start of a lesson or the end of the lesson, just because the focus is on improving their spelling, punctuation and grammar so in my opinion, the more exposure they can have to a range of texts from different genres and different topics, it’s crucial in getting them to recognise how language is used in those different contexts.
What does Bedrock offer you as a department head?
What I liked about Bedrock straight away is you’re really personal so we can just send an email to you and you kind of get a really nice reply that feels like it’s just for you and not a bog standard sentence starter where you’ve just changed the end! So I like the fact that you don’t mind us emailing you about an issue, no matter how big, how small.
I really like the charts that you send to us so we can monitor the usage of students in all year groups. What’s been particularly useful have been the reports that you’ve done at the drop of a hat for us, when we’ve had governors meetings or Ofsted coming in, where you’ve looked particularly at groups, like Looked After Children, Pupil Premium children, SEN children and you’ve been able to break the data down about how it’s actually impacted their learning.
What do you think about Bedrock?
Varda, Year 9, EAL student: They have a lot of words that we can meet in our usual life, like they have, if you don’t understand the word or the definition, you can look at the picture and this is really helpful because you can understand what’s happening and they have examples, like how to use this word, it’s really useful. It’s very helpful because it has a lot of exercises, like in different ways, like putting words in one sentence, you have to think about it, and it’s helpful.
In conversation with Dr Jan Hunt, Headteacher
There’s an old adage of ‘Words give you power’ isn’t there, and that’s something I believe in. It’s not just about passing exams, it’s about youngsters using words to communicate what’s going on inside.
Bedrock works because it gives an immediate sense of progress to students. It’s something that’s just for them, it’s private to them. I believe Bedrock is effective because it is empowering them to experience vocabulary they wouldn’t have done before.
This has become something that really works in our school, we know it’s working for our students. I’ve never recommended a tech product before, but we’re happy to recommend Bedrock.