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Marlwood School is enjoying a new lease of life under the leadership of Headteacher Del Planter. In their latest report, Ofsted praises the impact of a new curriculum and teachers that are encouraging learners to ‘think deeply’ and helping them reach their full potential. Del and his team are passionate about making sure his learners develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours that they need to succeed in the future, and they are finding innovative ways to do this.Read more
Are your children striving to make the world a better place? We want to celebrate them!
Never has it been more important to be aware of the world around us, to understand what is happening in communities, both near and far, and to recognise the power that every one of our actions can have.Read more
With Ofsted's new inspection framework coming out recently, schools have had to think carefully about subject progression. As the series creators of Power English: Writing, we welcome this move. Progression is essential if children are to become the best writers they can be, and when our teaching of writing is cohesive, considered and coordinated, we can see dramatic changes in the quality of children’s writing in only a matter of weeks.
Ofsted emphasises how ‘instructional leadership’ is a key driver in effective schools and Power English: Writing offers school leaders a research-based pedagogy which can help start the process towards school improvement. It not only delivers the writing requirements of the National Curriculum but believes all children can aim for greater-depth. It embeds equality of opportunity for every pupil. With Power English: Writing, every child is seen as a writer.
Power English: Writing is a rigorous and research-based approach to teaching writing. Outstanding writing development involves clarity, world-class instruction, responsive teaching, and the opportunity for children to engage in repeated practice through daily writing which is pleasurable, purposeful and meaningful. Power English: Writing weaves all of these together so that schools can benefit from:
● the interconnected and interleaving nature of the class writing projects;
● the hundreds of writing-study and functional grammar mini-lessons which become more sophisticated as children progress through the school years;
● the detailed and practical writing development scales which move children’s writing development forward.
● the handpicked high-quality mentor texts and author videos taken from well-known published writers and from children’s literature;
● the revision and editing checklists which become more advanced over time so as to guide children towards applying more intricate and complex compositional techniques to their emerging drafts and for their finished manuscripts to be as transcriptionally accurate as possible;
● a ‘Writing For Pleasure’ pedagogy.
Furthermore, to grow a school of extraordinary writers, writing development needs to be a whole-school collaborative effort which is supported by a deep understanding that interconnection is a powerful principle of the very best teaching practice. Every one of the Power English: Writing class writing projects has been carefully considered, with each one placed where we feel it will be best taught. This includes projects across narrative, poetry, persuasive writing and non-fiction. In keeping with the principles of distributed, retrieval and repeated practice, what is learned in one project also supports and develops new learning in all other future projects. Children become aware of how what they are learning in one writing lesson, and in one writing project, will come in use not only later in the year but in future years too.
Here’s just one example of the kind of progression journey children go on. In Year 3, children learn valuable lessons in how to ‘paint with words’ during their Animals and Pets and The Natural World poetry projects. This has a direct influence on both their Fairy Tale and Fable stories written that year too.
This learning stays with children into Year 4 where they will create setting-driven and character-driven short stories. During the year, children will also participate in a sensory poetry project, which will serve to further enhance their story writing.
Moving into Year 5, all their hard work so far will come together when they write their more developed Short Stories. Yet again, these stories will come alive as children apply what they’ve learnt in their Poetry That Hides In Things, Graphic Novels and Inspired By ... writing projects.
Finally, by Year 6, children are well prepared to write multi-faceted and highly-developed Flash Fiction. However, it’s more nuanced than that. Not only do the Year 6 poetry projects contribute to children’s narrative writing, they also support their non-fiction writing too. All the things children learn within the narrative and poetry projects also have a direct impact on the quality of their Memoir writing throughout Key Stage 2.
In summary, when schools are clear about the trajectory of writing development, they give their apprentice writers the best chance to soar. In such schools, there are high expectations for all. The sky’s the limit and glass ceilings get shattered.
About the authors
Phil Ferguson and Ross Young are national and writing representatives for the UKLA (United Kingdom Literacy Association) and authors of Power English: Writing and founders of The Writing For Pleasure Centre.
They are both committed writer-teachers: teachers who write and writers who teach.Read more
This is the first of three blogs exploring the impact of Ofsted’s new inspection framework on the teaching of Geography in schools. At the GA’s 2019 conference, Iain Freeland, Her Majesty’s Inspector for Geography, told delegates that curriculum had replaced data as Ofsted’s new ‘unit of inspection’, urging geographers to go back and look again at what they teach and how they teach it.Read more
We invite Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts, to write about the importance of Key Stages:
With the implementation of the new Education Inspection Framework comes a big and sometimes heated debate about the balance of Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4.
I wonder though if it is helpful to think of secondary education in terms of KS3 and a separate KS4? It feels to me like this is thinking from a previous era of curriculum thought. This thinking of a ‘break’ between key stages mitigates against an understanding of what Christine Counsell calls the curriculum as the progression model.
In her excellent blog on senior curriculum leadership, The indirect manifestation of knowledge: (B) final performance as deceiver and guide, she says “But the curriculum itself is the progression model. Its mastery is progress. That is what it is for. When it comes to progress, the burden of proof is on the curriculum. And that includes knowledge itself for it is not just a setting in which to practise skills; it is a curricular property with an agency all of its own.”
The concept of the curriculum as a progression model is also found in Ofsted’s curriculum research report – not surprising, since Counsell sat on Ofsted’s curriculum advisory group.
If we think in this way, then we free ourselves to look at the breadth and depth of the curriculum framework across the whole of secondary education and the translation of that framework into a structure and narrative within an institutional context.
There is the issue of the point of specialisation or subject choice. This is significant, because in England, we already ask pupils to specialise or choose subjects earlier than most other countries.
There are different views on this within the sector. Some leaders believe that it is more helpful to pupils to create stronger, deeper disciplinary knowledge earlier on. Others believe that it is important to retain curriculum breadth for as along as possible as pupils experience a wider curriculum that prepares them well for the next stage of learning. In this argument, pupils’ increased maturity and knowledge help them to make well-reasoned decisions about their future studies and provides a framework for thinking about the world and how it could be different.
I think whatever leaders decide, there are some principles that we need to hold dear – and for me, these principles do not include the protection of an arcane notion of key stages. Rather, I think the principles may actually be those articulated in the curriculum research:
- The curriculum is ambitious
- Subject disciplines are understood as unique and disciplinary knowledge is carefully sequenced
- The curriculum in each subject area is understood as the progression model
- There is equitable delivery and impact
It will never be good enough to simply teach to the test. As Counsell says: “Teaching to the test can mean different things across subjects. At its most extreme, it could mean teaching the [GCSE] specification content for five years. Or it could just mean not taking seriously any content taught beyond the specification. Most commonly, it means structuring learning around the surface features of the test, rather than the layers of knowledge or the smaller component skills that sit underneath successful performance.”
The mindset of teaching to the qualification reverses the proper order of things. Curriculum does not follow from qualifications. Curriculum comes first. Then teaching. Then assessment which provides the feedback loop. And finally qualifications.
Of course qualifications are important as the evaluation of what knowledge and skills pupils have gained against such expectations. And because they are for most pupils the stepping stones to further study. But qualifications are the logical culmination of the curriculum progression model.
Written by Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts.Read more