English & Media Centre and CLPE: a collaboration to support upper KS2
The English and Media Centre (EMC) works with secondary schools, and has a very similar ethos and aims to CLPE’s work with primary schools. Over the last few years EMC and CLPE have started to collaborate more closely, for example by running courses in partnership. The collaboration has been enriching, with both sides benefiting from cross-phase thinking and sharing ideas for what are, often, shared issues.
In an ideal world, primary and secondary school teachers would meet regularly to learn from each other, with time to reflect on where their Year 6 are going, or where their Year 7 have come from. However, we know that teachers have enough trouble finding time to liaise within their own school, so we have put together two jointly run courses: one at CLPE for primary school teachers on how to stretch their higher attainers in Year 5 and 6; one at The English and Media Centre for secondary school teachers wanting to review their Year 7 provision in the light of pupils’ experience at KS2. In each case the shared primary/secondary expertise is invaluable.
EMC contributed to updating the wonderful CLPE Reading and Writing scales co-created with other literacy organisations UKLA, NATE and NAAE. On the CLPE's ‘Meeting the Needs of More Able Pupils in Year 5 and 6’ course, the scales form a foundation from which to explore what we might expect from these children in Year 5 and 6 in a holistic way. Secondary teachers often remark that the descriptions of pupils at the upper ends of these scales are familiar even at A Level, underscoring the idea that progress in English is not simply the acquisition of more subject knowledge, but also an ongoing process of increasing sophistication and maturity in a set of core skills.
"These scales could transform English pedagogy and assessment", Dame Alison Peacock
Although we have ‘more able’ pupils firmly in focus, the CLPE course is founded on the idea that this is not a fixed group of children, and that we need to be on the look out for moments of brilliance in anyone in order to be ready to nurture that spark. We are always mindful of the need for strategies which can be taught in a whole-class context. For example, we will explore different ways to support writing across the ability range without over-scaffolding – one of the issues which is common to both KS2 and KS3 teachers, and an area where CLPE and EMC have shared expertise.
Both organisations conduct their own research projects as well as staying well-informed. We will draw on CLPE’s hugely successful Power of Reading work: how can you ‘warm up’ a class novel so that pupils are excited to start reading? How can you develop the close reading skills that will take them confidently forward, not just into SATs, but into KS3 and beyond? We will discuss suggestions from recent research such as whether generating great ideas for writing is a ‘teachable’ skill, or how to balance freedom and control to allow higher attaining writers to shine. Drawing on findings from EMC’s KS3 project ‘It’s good to talk’, we will take a look at the pros and cons of group work in helping children to develop some of that sophistication I mentioned earlier. We will also explore ways to build children’s confidence and resilience when tackling challenging texts, taking a poem as an example. Throughout the day there will be time for colleagues to share good practice, ask questions, and reflect on what will work in their own teaching contexts.
We will also have fun with non-fiction and scissors! Hope you can join us.