Gavin Williamson MP

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

Learners First English Hub @ Whiston Worrygoose

As an established Teaching School Partnership and now as an accredited English Hub, our work remains driven by the desire and unwavering determination to improve educational outcomes and transform life chances for all children and young people. As a vehicle through which we can further ‘connect people and promote excellence’, the Learners First English Hub supports school improvement through engagement and collaboration, particularly within areas serving the most disadvantaged.

Our commitment is to provide the highest quality of expertise and support to schools, without obligation, fear or favour. Through the English Hub, we use the expertise of high performing lead schools and literacy specialists with proven track records of delivering effective and sustainable early literacy teaching to support this endeavour. Ambition, vision and strategic investment underpin relationships built on trust and shape a motivation to provide constructive, distinctive and comprehensive support to improve and promote:

  • Standards of reading
  • Early language
  • Literacy teaching
  • Active participation and engagement in the work of the English Hub.

Contact the English Hub @ Whiston Worrygoose

Tel : 01709 267021

Twitter : @ Learners_First


English Hub Background Information

In the spring of 2018, the Department for Education (DfE) identified and invited 924 eligible schools to apply to become an accredited English Hub as part of a new national initiative to drive up standards in literacy. Following a competitive application and selection process, the DfE announced the designation of the inaugural English Hubs in autumn 2018.

Learners First is thrilled to confirm a lead Teaching School within the partnership, Whiston Worrygoose, was successfully designated as one of only 32 English Hubs in the country. As a partnership, we are excited by the opportunities this creates for local schools and are keen to share more information about the support and resources available and how schools can access and contribute to the work of the English Hub.

As defined by the DfE, each English Hub will:

‘…promote a love of reading and support schools across the country to provide excellent phonics and early language teaching.  Literacy specialists within each hub will provide tailored support to schools. This will include running events to showcase excellent practice in teaching reading and working with local schools to develop their practice’.

Department for Education (DfE), October 2018


English Hub Literacy Specialists

As a DfE designated English Hub, Learners First has 6 experienced Literacy Specialists supporting the development of early reading and phonics.

The Literacy Specialists continue to be based in their own schools, whilst working with the Hub to offer intensive support to schools in implementing or improving all systematic synthetic phonics teaching. All Literacy Specialists undertake nationally delivered training prior to commencement of their roles from September 2019.


National Remit of English Hubs

All support offered by the English Hubs across the country will promote the Department’s three priority areas

1. Early language development:providing evidence-based approaches to early language development and closing the word gap in school-based early years settings, including appropriate use of formative assessment;

2. Age-appropriate phonics provision : encouraging best practice in systematic synthetic phonics teaching from school-based early years provision to the end of Key Stage 1, and as the primary reading strategy throughout the school. This includes:

  • encouraging fidelity to a single systematic synthetic phonics programme;
  • supporting the effective use of decodable books in the early stages of learning to read, as a way of establishing phonic decoding;
  • supporting effective practice in formative assessment in relation to phonics/early reading.

3. Promoting a love of reading: encouraging reading for enjoyment including by supporting whole school reading approaches, reading to children at least once a day and encouraging reading at home, developing teachers’ knowledge of appropriate children’s literature.


Can all schools access English Hub support?

The DfE has identified a number of schools at a regional and local level which it feels may benefit from the support offered by English Hubs (identification is based on an analysis of phonics data and levels of disadvantage) but it is very much an offer of support to schools, not a mandate, and there are opportunities available to all schools. English Hubs have been assigned indicative regions across the country to ensure appropriate coverage of these identified schools, however, the allocations do not always reflect existing local partnership networks and established regional structures. Schools are therefore encouraged to approach and access the support of any English Hub with which they already have an existing partnership and/or would prefer to choose to work.

In addition, English Hubs have been asked to work with local partners including (but not limited to) the RSC, Opportunity Area Boards, NLEs, MATs, Dioceses and LAs to identify and encourage engagement from schools that would most benefit from support, with a focus on schools with high numbers of disadvantaged children.

The DfE’s intention is for schools to access the provision offered by English Hubs through a ‘Self-Referral’ system. English Hubs have been asked to prioritise schools based on a set of criteria (provided by the DfE) which will be available in the near future and some of the funded opportunities may be directed towards these schools. However, there will be a range of opportunities available to all schools via the Learners First English Hub, some of which will also be funded. As the DfE continues to finalise the self-referral system and releases more information about the eligibility criteria, we would like to encourage all schools interested in finding out more about the opportunities, CPD and resources available to make contact to discuss the options available in more detail.

Opportunities available in 2019-20

Support, funding and opportunities offered to schools through the Learners First English Hub in 2019-20 will include:

  • Who – All schools
  • What – The Learners First English Hub @ Whiston Worrygoose launch incorporating keynote speakers and information sharing around the designation process, referral systems, engagement opportunities and English Hub remit.
  • Funding – No charge to attend
  • Registrations of interest now open! Please contact at Learners First – teachingschool@learnersfirst.org
  • Who – All eligible schools
  • What – Event showcasing elements of best practice in teaching early language and reading with representatives from the lead school and literacy specialists available to offer advice and support to schools in completing action plans.
  • Funding – No charge to attend, funding up to £360 per school for cover costs.
  • Registrations of interest now open! Please contact at Learners First – teachingschool@learnersfirst.org
  • Who – All eligible schools
  • What – Opportunity to complete and submit an action plan during attendance at a showcase event. Initial improvement action plans will identify potential engagement opportunities and associated support and resources available from the English Hub.
  • Funding– Funded support available for up to 85 schools
  • Who – All eligible schools
  • What – Action plan reviews undertaken by the English Hub will determine individual support requirements. In some cases this will include a school-based audit of early language and reading provision (using an audit framework provided by the DfE) leading to further refinement of action plans and associated support and resources (3 days).
  • Funding– Funded support available for up to 85 schools
  • Who – All eligible schools
  • What – A commitment to delivering support to schools including the oppportunity to work with and learn from a high performing lead school and experienced literacy specialists. Access to up to 6 days of intensive support or a wider programme of professional development opportunities.
  • Funding– Funding packages of up to £3,000 (max. £6,000 over 2 years)
  • Who – All schools
  • What – The work of the English Hub and support available through them is shared widely at both local and national level through various forums. Opportunities for working collaboratively with key stakeholders and building capacity are identified and built upon.
  • Funding– Future funding decisions to be agreed at national level