For primary-aged children research shows it’s what happens at home that has by far the biggest impact on children’s learning. Up to 5-times whatever happens in school in fact - it’s truly astonishing.
Traditional educational thinking has focussed almost exclusively on in-school activities, partly because until Learning Ladders there were no systems to support home-school collaboration around learning itself (old style VLE’s were great, but they’re empty portals, and what teacher has time to create all that content?!).
This was the experience of Matt, our founder, who was teaching in inner-London schools and finding that by publishing online each week short tutorials for parents, each explaining what had been taught and exactly how to help at home, the children in his class were flourishing.
Children’s progress was exceptional, parents were encouraging and involved, and this was the case across the whole parent community (no mean feat in Camden!).
So Matt left teaching, remortgaged his house, and set about recruiting a team of exceptional teachers to write short ‘teacher tips’ style tutorials, breaking down the whole primary curriculum and explaining to parents exactly how to support learning at home for each part and putting these online.
This database of resources is now our Parent Portal - Ladders at Home.
The second biggest influence on student outcomes is what happens in class, but the traditional systems dominating how schools assessed were designed to audit learning, rather than support it. These ‘trackers’ were popular but were (and still are) based on flawed logic like linear progress and predictive ‘flight paths’.
Again this was our experience as teachers - hours wasted entering data at the end of term into unwieldy tracking software, which would then aggregate it into graphs which would sit in a file waiting for Ofsted, but have no value to us as teachers. This wasn’t improving learning, helping us, or our students.
Responsive teaching (or ‘Assessment for Learning’) had been usurped by tracking for reporting.
So we set about developing a new approach, based heavily on research into what works in this area (notably Hattie et al) but married with what’s practical to implement in classes.
We were fortunate at this time to join forces with Sam Hunter and the team from Hiltingbury School, who were addressing the same problem in the same way.
Learning Ladders curriculum design and formative assessment were born, and it quickly won the UK Department for Education’s ‘Assessment Innovation’ competition to find the best approach to teaching and assessing the new English Primary Curriculum.
Since then the system has evolved enormously and been shortlisted for multiple awards, including “Best Whole School Aid for Teaching & Learning” at the global BETT Awards every year since launch.
But everything we do comes back to these simple insights - what works in real classrooms, and how can Tech help improve the Ed outcomes?
The full Learning Ladders story is available as a book ‘Life after Levels’ on Amazon.
"I like all the new additions, they certainly enhance the site especially the Gap Analysis and ability to print grids. The Grids look a really manageable way to work with children and parents"
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