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#389 Implementing Learning by Questions to improve KS2 outcomes – Springfield Juniors

Victoria Wilson

What did we do?

I implemented interventions that targeted disadvantaged pupils across all KS2 classes. The structured interventions were high quality, short, sharp bursts which lasted 30 minutes and ran 3 times a week. A highly resourced programme called ‘Learning by Questions’ was used for the interventions. Initially, the interventions were chosen and set by class teachers in each year group and then implemented by a teaching assistant who had been trained in using the ‘Learning by Questions’ programme. Later, identification of learning goals to be focused on during the interventions happened through a joint discussion with the class teacher and teaching assistant. A Google document, detailing the intervention sessions, allowed for clear communication between staff enabling the interventions to be targeted to each child’s individual needs. Identification of pupils for the LbQ intervention took place at the beginning of November 2021. Disadvantaged pupils who were currently achieving BLW/WTS in writing were selected to take part in the programme to support them in achieving EXS. The writing interventions focussed on grammar and punctuation from previous year groups to cover gaps in learning and then moved on to the current year group’s objectives. A varied programme enabled the pupils to revisit the same skill if they were still not secure. Tracking the children’s progress during each session, using the LbQ programme, enabled staff to identify gaps in learning and therefore plan future interventions accordingly.

‘We talked about the questions with the teaching assistant and this really helped when we were stuck.’

Summary of impact

Responses from a staff survey sent out at the end of Spring 2022 revealed positive outcomes across KS2. Overall, staff feel children are more engaged in the classroom: children join in during class/group discussions and are keen to learn. The survey also showed that all of the children enjoy using the LbQ programme to help them with their learning. This is also clearly evident when conducting learning walks during the interventions and speaking with the children. Staff feel that the children made most progress in grammar and punctuation since beginning LbQ interventions in November. When comparing the baseline data with data collected in March 2022, I can see that the results support the feedback given by staff. The data revealed that 66% of pupils scored higher on the grammar paper and 100% of pupils made fewer grammatical and punctuation mistakes in their independent writing. Teacher assessments carried out in April 2022 indicated that 50% of the pupils had now reached EXS in writing. This data, alongside pupil voice and staff feedback, provides a positive picture of how the LbQ programme successfully supported pupils in making accelerated progress in writing. Using a richly resourced programme, regular short structured interventions and providing TAs with training and support has enabled the project to be a success. TAs now feel confident in delivering and accessing future LbQ interventions and are able to continue using the programme to support different groups of pupils throughout the rest of the school year. Communication between TAs and teachers worked well because all staff members had access to the same Google Document detailing the pupils’ progress. In the future, teachers will need further training on how they could use LbQ in the classroom to support other groups of children to make accelerated progress.

Steps taken

Firstly, I looked at what needed to change across the school in terms of attainment and identified a key problem. After a discussion with the headteacher, we decided the project should focus on maximising the impact of interventions for disadvantaged pupils in literacy to enable these pupils to make accelerated progress. This decision was made because the KS2 July 2021 data highlighted that attainment in literacy and numeracy for disadvantaged children is low. It also showed an attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils at Springfield Junior School. Alongside the data, discussions and observations of the current interventions being implemented across the school highlighted that diagnostics and interventions were weak, identification of why children were struggling lacked precise diagnosis and choice of interventions didn’t always reflect the need of individual pupils. Many of the interventions were unstructured and low-quality resources were being used. Lack of communication between teachers and TAs and lack of connection between out-of-class learning in the intervention and classroom teaching affected the effectiveness of the interventions. Using these observations, and current research detailing how to ensure interventions are effective in enabling pupils to make progress, I developed a list of ‘active ingredients’ which were essential to the success of the project. These active ingredients formed the basis of the project and included: structured interventions, empowered staff, effective leadership, supported pupils and monitoring and evaluating. After identifying the essential ‘active ingredients’ of the project, I planned out the activities which needed to be implemented. Firstly, whole staff training took place in September – the training sessions focused on how to use the LbQ programme as an intervention tool, how to choose the learning goals targeted to each individual child’s needs and how staff would monitor the impact of the intervention. Devising monitoring activities was the next vital component as it provided TAs with an area to evaluate sessions and share this information with class teachers. As the Implementation Lead, I regularly completed learning walks and discussed with staff how the interventions were going, whether there were any problems and how these could be solved. Pupils were given regular opportunities, throughout the project, to share their thoughts about the LbQ programme which provided me with a detailed insight into their viewpoints. Finally, a staff survey and data analysis comparing previous data was completed in March/April 2022 providing me with feedback on the overall effectiveness of the project.

What would we do differently

Completing this project presented several barriers which affected the success of the project. These barriers included: staff absence due to illness/Covid-19, attendance of the child, initial teething problems using the programme, staff leaving, technology and time. Although the project was faced with these barriers, as a team we worked together to overcome them. If I was to carry out this project again, I would have additional TAs running the interventions to enable groups of children who are BLW and WTS to work in separate groups to ensure they are given the best possible chance to make accelerated progress. Often, a TAs time was given over to the pupils who were BLW in the group, which meant that the children who were WTS had less adult input. The original selection criteria was disadvantaged children WTS in writing however due to other clubs and uptake for the morning interventions the criteria was widened to include disadvantaged children working BLW in writing.


As a school, we had already bought into the ‘Learning by Questions’ programme – this programme was used to identify, plan and implement the targeted intervention learning goals. The LbQ training took place during the school day so teaching assistants weren’t required to stay in school beyond their contracted hours. Year group leads were asked to release their teaching assistants for an hour on a selected day so that they could attend the training. The training was led by the LbQ Educational Lead – the training was free but I was required to give over my time to attend progress meetings which I appreciated undertaking as the team were also able to resolve any problems which had occurred with the programme as well as offer their expertise. Teaching assistants were given planned time to complete the monitoring forms and year group leads spent time discussing the pupil’s performance with them. The £2000 funding was used to pay teaching assistants overtime who were running the interventions before school.

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Springfield Junior School

Victoria Wilson