Designing effective interventions to improve outcomes

How one leader used Whole Education’s curriculum leadership programme to design an effective new intervention
…featuring David Crossley’s top tips for designing new interventions

Lindsay Johnson from Shevington High School reflects on how she engaged with Whole Education’s LMCC programme to drive a successful intervention to improve literacy with limited resource. The full case study and data from Lindsay’s LMCC project can be seen at the bottom of this page.

One of the priorities identified from our last Ofsted Inspection related to the strategic leadership of literacy and numeracy.  Newly promoted to SLT and embarking on the Whole Education LMCC project, I decided to design a curriculum change initiative linked to the leadership of literacy. Financial restraints had impacted on previous initiatives – I needed to find a way to use the literacy catch-up funding creatively and to create a curriculum change which would be successful with little resourcing in terms of staffing.

I had trialled the use of the IDL programme in the summer term 2017, and the results and levels of engagement with pupils looked promising.  However, given two 20 minute slots in a morning and large numbers of pupils who could benefit from being involved in this, how was this going to work?

The LMCC sessions provided time to think, time to reflect and opportunity to think carefully outside the school setting.  The ideas of abandonment, using a small pilot and believing in a project if it was value led and would improve the lives of even a small group of children provided powerful encouragement and ideas.

Within six months of starting the project, there was distinct evidence of success for the pupils involved.  I had identified a pilot group of pupils, moved from a weekly session to two a week, changed the member of staff overseeing the initiative and the results were clear.  The majority of pupils were engaged in the work, and 16 out of 21 had improved their reading age by 6 months or more, 12 had progressed by more than a year and 5 had progressed by two years.  There was also a momentum growing as pupils realised that making this kind of progression was within their grasp if they engaged and tried their best.

Encouragement from Whole Education to research planned leadership changes had supported the process. Engaging with research by the EEF and from the National Literacy Trust supported my thinking and led to the recognition of the project itself from the Literacy Trust.  Now we could proudly display the fact that we were: ‘Working with the Literacy Trust’ on our website. Next time the inspector calls, I will definitely have something to say about the leadership of literacy and I will be armed with some convincing evidence of progression.  Most importantly, the pupils involved are much more in control of their destiny as they have a much better grasp of their literacy skills! Involvement in LMCC has been key to this success, providing the support and challenge needed to get this project off the ground.

David Crossley’s 5 top tips for designing a successful intervention or change


  • Be values-led
    Know why what you’re doing matters and communicate it to those involved. Be confident of the moral purpose behind your actions- especially when the going gets tough. For example on last year’s LMCC Tim Brighouse gave us a powerful reminder of how powerful improving the literacy of students could transform their life chances.
  • …and impact focused
    Be clear about the impact you expect from your change before you begin, collect some baseline evidence to judge your success against
  • Think about what you will abandon or stop doing
    Doing things differently often demands abandonment and redeployment of resources. Before you try something new, ask what you or your team will give up or stop doing to free up capacity and resource to do it well
  • Focus on implementation
    Focus on the “hows” as well as the “whats”- as most things succeed or fail due to the quality of implementation rather than the idea
  • Pilot the change before you go take it to scale
    Adjust, test and get it right before you scale. The most powerful thing you can have after an intervention is other people asking to get involved!

David’s top tips are taken from his presentations at the Leading and Managing Curriculum Change course. New, improved courses in this leadership series will be running in 2018/9 in Bolton and Wigan (Leading to Impact) and nationally (Leading a Whole Education) for senior leaders with responsibility for curriculum and teaching & learning. Get in touch to learn more.

LMCC Impact Study – Lindsay Johnson by Whole Education on Scribd


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