Literacy in Lockdown - Part of the Living With Lockdown series

Published on: 
Tuesday, 5 May 2020 - 12:11pm
By: 
Jane Kelly Harrow Gate Primary Academy

 

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Our Living with Lockdown series looks at how teachers, schools and children are dealing with learning in lockdown. Here at CLPE we have created our Take 5 Home Learning Resources to help teachers continue Power of Reading learning while children are at home. In this blog, Jane Kelly, Vice Principal at Harrow Gate Primary Academy, a Power of Reading Associate School, discusses their school's journey of Literacy in Lockdown. 

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On Friday the 20th March, we prepared frantically for school to close for the vast majority of our children. We felt dizzy – spinning from one job to another.

Who would we be able to accept as a child of a key worker?

What would happen to our most vulnerable children who need the routine and safety of school?

How were some families going to cope without free school meals?

As lists were prepared, learning packs delivered, and anxious children soothed; the severity of what was happening overwhelmed us all. Words like ‘unprecedented’, ‘peak’ and ‘pandemic’ rang in our ears as we desperately tried to reassure our Harrow Gate community.

It has been the strangest of times for all of us – but a few weeks in and we are starting to adjust to our ‘new normal’. We all have our wobbles; staff, children, parents and carers – and we do our best to offer comfort and counsel in the most creative of ways. Dropping food parcels and waving frantically through windows has become the highlight of the week. Notes on doors, shouts from doorsteps, and glitching video calls have never felt so good!

As teachers, we recognise every day that passes as a day of lost learning. The dread that this could be irreversible for some of our most disadvantaged children bearing on our minds, as we deliver daily lessons and feedback to supporting parents as best we can.

We have been a CLPE Power of Reading school now for three years. In that time, our end of KS2 results for reading have doubled and our children have become ravenous readers who expect a lot from an English lesson! Becoming a school with an authentic ethos of reading for pleasure was quite a journey – but continuing that journey through untold weeks of closure has felt like entering unchartered water.

Faced with this uncertainty, hearing about the launch of the Take 5 home learning resource was met with shared sighs of relief and cheers of joy! All from a safe distance, of course.

The free resources have been designed by the CLPE teaching team for Power of Reading member schools to support parents to help their children to develop their own responses to high-quality texts. Our children have been able to revisit already studied texts – which they have found familiar and comforting – as well as engage with new stories from authors they have already encountered, or even delve into a brand-new book.

The five areas covered in the activities capture the essence of what our children experience in an English session. The activity notes help parents to explore illustration and vocabulary; thoughtfully pose questions to extend thinking and ideas and discuss key parts of the text. The notes have eased the stress for parents as they offer a creative way to support their children that is manageable. The children are so comfortable with this way of working that they’re even able to guide their parents.

The written work fuelled by these activities has been of a high standard – with parents able to support as a co-writer and editor alongside their child. Parents who were dreading teaching English have commented on how much pleasure they are getting from the home learning experience. Some of our Y4 parents have told us they’ve been astounded by the level of visualisation skill and comprehension garnered through an ‘Illustrate it’ task using an extract from The Iron Man by Ted Hughes and illustrated by Laura Carlin. A ‘Create it’ task was then used which saw the children write and edit their own newspaper reports and video their own broadcast. The quality of the work was outstanding!

 

Knowing our families are engaging with a classic both together and joyfully is a welcomed thing. The notes are also linked to the National Curriculum; so, selecting for your year group ensures a good level of coverage – teachers can add tasks to fill any gaps or just use as they are.

We are proud to be a Power of Reading school, and we have thrived on the support we’ve received from CLPE. Using the Take 5 resources has ensured that our children continue to benefit – and the quality of English home learning really has become one less thing to worry about.

 

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The Take 5 teaching notes discussed in this blog are available as part of our Power of Reading whole school membership.

Find out more...

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