Team Solutions

Accelerating Learning in Literacy case study - Hampton Hill School

As a foundational skill in the modern world, literacy has a huge impact on students' academic and future career prospects. As a result supporting students who are struggling to hit important literacy milestones is a vital task.

Hampton Hill School has recently completed its third year working with Team Solutions facilitators on the Accelerating Learning in Literacy (ALL) professional development. Through this work, progress has been made in developing its teachers' ability to identify and accelerate struggling students, as well as creating a self-sustaining process of collaborative improvement among its teachers.

Four Hampton Hill School students working together at a computer.
Since the early 2010s Hampton Hill School students have been involved in a literacy acceleration programme designed to boost their rate of progress and bring them up to the level of their peers.

What is Accelerating Learning in Literacy?

Accelerating Learning in Literacy is a Ministry of Education school intervention programme. It is designed to support teachers to examine their teaching methods and try new approaches to accelerate their students' literacy progress.

Teachers in the programme are supported through a short 15-week intervention to develop the necessary skills and approaches to accelerate small groups of students who are below, or well-below the National Standards for reading and/or writing. They then share what they've learned with their colleagues, and in doing so, create a positive process of change in practice that spreads across the entire school.

In 2015 Team Solutions facilitators ran Acccelerating Learning in Literacy programmes across four regions in New Zealand's - Tai Tokerau, Auckland, Taranaki-Wanganui-Manawatu and Wellington, covering a total of 1684 students across 139 schools.

For more information on Accelerating Literacy for Learning programmes, click here.


Developing cycles of improvement among educators

A whiteboard covered in Post-It notes of staff ideas on acceleration.
Thinking at discussion groups was considered to be draft and was represented on post it notes until agreed on, where it was then recorded and laminated and added to the staff room wall.

Right from the start the school's leadership decided that it was important for the intervention programme's success that educators across the school had a shared understanding of what acceleration meant - enabling everyone to work together effectively on a shared goal.

Team Solutions facilitators ran a series of deep constructive talk sessions with teachers delving into what was meant by acceleration. This resulted in a shared understanding of the concept and a wealth of ideas forming about how to achieve it. As time went on, the talk sessions evolved into collaborative discussions focusing on what changes were needed, if they were working, under what circumstances and with whom. 

Principal at the time, Kelly O'Leary, noted that Team Solutions facilitator Julie Beattie assisted Hampton Hill School leaders in changing their focus, helping them to analyse and re-evaluate their existing practices.

"Julie gave us new ideas and asked questions that made us stop and say ‘Wow we hadn’t considered that’... It’s amazing when you stop and focus, what a difference you can make instead of focusing on the day to day running of things,” Kelly said.

For more information about how Team Solutions facilitators worked with Hampton Hill School leaders to develop cycles of improvement among HHS educators, click here.


Techniques employed in the Hampton Hill School ALL intervention

A wide variety of approaches are employed in the Hampton Hill School ALL intervention. The video clips below explain these approaches and provide guiding questions for you to consider how to apply these techniques to your own situation.

Cultivating shared beliefs

A key feature of the success of ALL at Hampton Hill School is the instructional leadership exhibited by principal Kelly O’Leary. Teachers were encouraged and given time to reflect on the beliefs that drive their practice. This is a prerequisite for building towards a collective and shared vision within a team. 

These sessions often centre around unpacking a relevant professional reading which provides a focus for the discussion. The leader’s role is to be an active participant in the discussion, while allowing others to express their views and then guiding the group to come to a working consensus.

In this video, Kelly O’Leary, principal of Hampton Hill School, describes how she went about this process with her staff..

Questions to consider:


Classroomn observation and practice analysis

By putting in place self-reflective systems such as classroom observations followed up by focused feedback and feed forward, teacher practice can be honed to improve outcomes for both teachers and learners.

When school leaders demonstrate that they value this process, through providing time and resources, teachers are more likely to commit to de-privatising their practice and learning from each other.

This process helps to create collective understandings of goals and concepts and allows effective practice to be spread across the school.

In this video, you will learn about the systems and processes that have been put in place for practice analysis at Hampton Hill School.

Do you want to find out more about practice analysis

We recommend this paper by the University of Auckland’s Helen Timperley: Timperley, H. (2014). Developing teacher effectiveness through professional conversations. In O. Tan (Ed.), International perspectives on policy and practice for building new teacher competencies (pp. 189-208): Cengage.


Professional learning groups

Focused use of professional learning time is key. Building an atmosphere where professional learning time is centred around the goal of collective responsibility is a powerful step in creating a moral imperative within a school.

In this video, notice how Kelly has identified the roles and responsibilities of different participants within the professional learning group in the school.

Questions to consider:

  • Can you describe the roles and responsibilities of different participants in an effective professional learning group?
  • How did the classroom observations and practice analysis contribute to the effectiveness of the professional learning group?
  • How were ideas of best practice collated, analysed and synthesised by the group?


Accelerating learning for target learners

Acceleration of learning for students who are not reading or writing as well as can be expected is a key concept that needs to be understood by leaders and teachers.

The Accelerating Learning in Literacy contract has been framed to allow leaders and teachers to explore how student learning can be accelerated through an inquiry process.

In the first year on the ALL contract the inquiry question is, “What is acceleration and how do we achieve it?”

In the second and third/final years, the inquiry question widens; “How do we develop effective systems of support that sustain student acceleration and ensure intervention coherence at a school-wide level?”

Notice how the staff in this school work together, over time, to establish a shared understanding of acceleration

Questions to consider

  • What is the difference between remediation and acceleration?
  • What are the strategies employed by the principal and teachers to accelerate learning and literacy for their students?


Teaching as Inquiry

In this video you'll see how having a common focus and using a conceptual framework to guide the thinking process helps all participants are able to interact more effectively.

Questions to consider:

  • What actions are required of leaders and teachers to create the necessary conditions for collaborative inquiry to occur?
  • Can you identify elements in the inquiry process that were effective for this school?

Accelerating achievement at Hampton Hill School

A Hampton Hill School teacher working with a table of students.
Over the three years Hampton Hill School took part in the ALL programme they expanded the interventions from a single class out across the entire school.

Hampton Hill School is a decile six school of 180 students located in Tawa, Wellington. Team Solutions facilitators began working with the school in 2014 to run an ALL intervention across a single class. As the school continued with the programme across a second and third year in 2015 and 2016 it has progressively broadened the scope of the intervention  to help students across a greater number of classes.

At the same time Hampton Hill School teachers also worked with a Team Solutions facilitator to develop a suite of techniques for identifying struggling students and planning their own interventions.

The results so far have been very pleasing: within the 25 target students in 2015, 13 made accelerated progress (progress exceeding the expected level for the time period) within the intervention and were meeting or exceeding the expected means for their year level in writing. The remaining 12 students made accelerated progress but still achieved mean results lower than what was the expected for their year level.

For more information on how Team Solutions facilitators worked with Hampton Hill School leaders to find and engage target students, click here.


Get started at your own school

If you’d like more information about our Accelerating Learning in Literacy programme, or you would like to know how Team Solutions could work with your school to help boost literacy outcomes, email us at