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Kirkcaldy West Primary School, Fife

Here is story from Fife Council about how they are using quality improvement, through the Raising Attainment for All Programme to improve learning outcomes. 

Description of our work and improvement aim

Raising attainment for children and young people at Kirkcaldy West Primary, through empowering practitioners to lead change and improvement. 90% of learners at Kirkcaldy West achieving expected learning outcomes and developmental milestones by June 2016.

What did we do?

Kirkcaldy West has a population of 20 per cent that derive English as an Additional Language (EAL), which means there can be barriers to family and learner engagement. At one point in the last three years, there was approximately 26 different first languages within the learner population. Three datazones which form part of the school catchment (CPAG 2012) show Child Poverty are above 35 per cent. 

In December 2014, with the inception of the Raising Attainment for All programme, Kirkcaldy West embarked on a journey to embed Quality Improvement as part of everyday business. This started with training and development for practitioners and latterly monthly ‘Test of Change’ meetings. Every practitioner was encouraged and supported to adopt a ‘Test of Change’ approach to their daily practice. Two Learning Support Teachers within the school completed the eight-month quality improvement mentors programme.

The focus of improvement activity was of each relevant to each individual context, with mainly looking to increase family engagement through more inclusive, co-productive and accessible approaches.

Improvement Activities included:

  • Paired literacy activities
  • Daily vocabulary practice support EAL learners
  • Lego Therapy
  • Walking Bus for vulnerable learners
  • Parent/Child shared reading using dual language talking pens
  • Improving fine motor skill activities
  • Inclusive pedagogy approach

The progress of four improvement projects demonstrating co-produced QI are highlighted below.

Walking Bus

The Walking Bus started small with one vulnerable learner who was not coming to school on a regular basis. Staff met this learner in a neutral place before school to encourage their attendance at school. This brought quick success within a month and increased attendance significantly, then through peer requests and the school seeing it as an opportunity to engage similar individuals it was spread to other areas. Two years on the Walking Bus is now embedded as everyday business at Kirkcaldy West and is spreading to other schools across in Fife based on its success.

Talking Pen

A small test was develop aiming to give learners of bi-lingual more opportunities to be involve in their child’s learning This meant families could read a story using the Talking Pen to translate from English to their native language. This also enabled reading materials to be more interactive and participative. The learning was tested with other families is being used with other learners in Kirkcaldy West, and is also being spread to other areas locally and nationally. Parental feedback has been extremely positive demonstrating increased engagement in children’s learning.

Lego Therapy

Lego Therapy was one of the first tests of change to improve and develop effective communication and collaboration between children with social interaction difficulties. Starting small, this was used with one child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to develop positive friendships and promote positive well-being. Part of this was to test ways which this individual to positively interact with peers. Feedback from teaching practitioners and family has been positive about the progress made, which referenced the Lego Therapy work. This work is now a Continuing Professional Development course offered to practitioners working across Education & Children’s Services, not just teaching. Lego Therapy is now used commonly to support children with wider additional support needs. In addition a support pack has been developed for Children’s Services practitioners and parents.

Learning Support

As part of completing an eight-month Quality Improvement practitioner programme, a Learning Support teacher used the Model for Improvement to test changes to harness Inclusive Pedagogy at Kirkcaldy West Primary School. An improvement project tested ways to increase staff knowledge and change practice, empower learners to increase their ownership of learning and building capacity of the school to reduce the instances of learners being removed from class for learning support. Increasing the use of Digital Technologies built capacity of the children to promote more independent learning. Feedback from teaching practitioners has highlighted ownership from pupils to their learning. Confidence of practitioners within the school and learners accessing learning support has also increased.


The work at Kirkcaldy West has sought to increase the engagement of parents and families through innovative approaches and adopting what works and abandoning what doesn’t. As demonstrated, a number of the improvement projects have spread beyond the school, the team now use quality improvement tools as part of its annual school improvement planning and practitioners feel empowered to lead change and improvement activities based on their respective work and need.

With a catchment population facing significant barriers to engaging in their child’s learning, this school is demonstrating how this can be achieved without having to radically change practice. More importantly, these projects demonstrate a commitment to coproduce improvement to improve outcomes. The Walking Bus, Lego Therapy and Talking Pens all demonstrate inclusive approaches to facilitating quality improvement in collaboration with the local community for the benefits of learners and families.

See Kirkcaldy West's Driver Diagram.