13 January 2017

Kerpow! Superhero leaders join forces to boost writing skills at fantastic four primaries

Illustration by Lauren Bull of Stockland Green School

“Our schools are not led by superheroes,” an ATLP leader once said. While there’s no doubt that the MAT’s strength lies in teamwork, these pictures unmask the powerful forces across the partnership.

Superheroes blasted into schools on a crusade to deliver even greater teaching to classrooms. Senior leaders from across the ATLP masterminded a dedicated writing day across all four of the primaries., designed to promote a love of writing and support English provision.

Led by the Fantastic Four: Kerriann Dyson, deputy headteacher of Slade, Stuart Lackenby, assistant headteacher at Hill West, Anna Trigg, deputy at Brookvale and Mere Green’s assessment leader, Suzy Glasgow, the project was supported by Dr. Beth Clarke, headteacher of Hill West Primary School.

Kerriann, a senior subject leader in english, explains: “We got together and thought: ‘how can we support each other?’  We wanted to form an assessment group across the primaries, so we looked at where we have a common thread and decided on a writing group focus.

“As a partnership, we have a wealth of talent in this area, such as our excellent results in phonics. The plan is to distribute that knowledge and replicate that success in our schools.”

The team worked closely to harness their expertise to lead and inspire others. They began with an INSET training day for primary school teachers and teaching assistants, where senior leaders delivered workshops and writing sessions, with middle leaders running smaller groups.


Kerriann says: Throughout the process we were constantly learning, with teachers working with colleagues from partner schools. There was so much energy – it was amazing!”

Stuart Lackenby adds: ”The workshops re-invigorated the passion our staff for the teaching of creative writing and also allowed for the sharing of best practice and collaboration, in its truest sense, among colleagues.

“By the end of the day, I think there was a real sense of excitement within our teams and a clear understanding of our collective responsibility in raising standards within and across our schools through both aspirational, and indeed inspirational, teaching.”

Hill West year 1 teaching assistant, Jenny Swain, says: “The children were really excited about coming into school dressed as their superhero.  This is turn, inspired them to produce some fantastic writing.”

The pen is mightier than the laser beam

In November, all four ATLP primary schools took part in a specialist writing day. Mini marvels, aged between three and 11, whizzed into school dressed as their favourite character or superhero.  Their mission was to learn creatively and have some fun in the process.

In addition to the popular choice of superhero, themes for the day included space and remembrance.

Children took part in a number of activities – from designing outfits from a range of household materials, such as bin bags and cardboard – to “Wow! Factor” lessons, looking at characteristics and vocabulary – what would those characters say and do and how would they act?

Kerriann says: “We wanted to empower the children – to inspire them to write, to really fire their imaginations. Staff also absorbed so much from the day and came away with the satisfaction that they had made a difference.”

Stuart adds:

“It was a privilege to be part of a collective focus on improving the outcomes in writing for our pupils across our partnership schools.”

Transforming destinies

The impact on staff is equally powerful: following the training, teachers set up an email group where they communicate regularly.

Kerriann says: “We’re building up a bank of evidence and resources that can be shared across the partnership.

“It’s our great responsibility to ensure that our children develop a lifelong love of writing and that they benefit from the advantages this brings.

“Our staff are rising to the challenge – not as stand-alone super heroes – but as teams of committed people with an extraordinary vision and drive to transform destinies. Because, when it comes to learning, our children are invincible – if we can give them the best start, then the future really is theirs to conquer.”