Here's some SPAG Christmas cheer....bet you never thought you'd hear those words together now did you?
3 more days: what about writing a recipe for Christmas. Mini illustrations, lovely word play....something to be proud of
This isn't anything involving PVA, tissue or glitter which you may have completely run out of at this time of year in schools. Just something which I'm sure you have already done lots of times. I have too but the results are always very festive, thoughtful and heart warming AND they actually give children children a chance to play around with language, explore and produce high quality writing.
Just some Christmas recipes or ANY recipes needed for the layout and language...a bit of stealing of their ideas like teaspoon or a pinch of or 110 g of or STIR, Crumble, mix, bake in oven at.... I should probably say "MAGPIE" as that's the word for gleaning all those ideas from different folk in school apparently - so sayeth trainee teachers and I'm not messing with those in the know!
Think about what Christmas means...children come up with amazing things, as always. Begin to explore your Christmas recipe: a dash of joy, a gallon of glitter ( or much less if you're heartily sick of it!), add the warmth of a fire etc etc. I know your children will be able to write much more flamboyantly than me.
In the spirit of the recipe if you add a dash of editing you can then transform the recipe into a card, little book or something to hang up at home AND reinforce the notion that genuine learning, thinking, creating and WRITING still happens when you're thinking Christmassy fun thoughts too.
“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” ― Nelson Mandela
"Ways to improve English lessons: One suggestion was that pupils should be encouraged to read for pleasure more. The report said some schools were distracted by national tests, which do not always assess pupils' wider reading skills well.
Too little time to complete writing tasks and opportunities for extended writing were marked as features of English lessons that needed improvement. Classes also needed to focus more on creative tasks and show pupils the practical benefits of what they learn, such as how poetry contributes to their emotional development."
There are so many wonderful words from Mandela on the internet and everywhere currently I'm not going to add more but some are striking chords with me . The perseverance, the resilience, the determination, the forgiveness Mandela showed us....that's what we should be teaching our children. They are the skills if we hope for a better world NOT more testing Mr. Wilshaw. We want our children to create their own destiny, be the 'captain of their ship', develop courage, integrity, honesty, passion and HOPE themselves. Maybe you think this is the fluffy stuff.. because it can't be measured? I don't know, if you do I feel sad for our children. Hopefully you don't , hopefully we can keep true to REAL EDUCATION for our children, not allow ourselves to be diverted by shallow learning for tests.
I love that the Ofsted report above mentions that schools were 'distracted' by national tests. I would say distracted is an understatement. DRIVEN by national tests would be truer and no, what a surprise a 45 minute test using extracts does not 'show' pupil's wider reading tests well. But this isn't what the headlines tell us because they all say our children are leaving primary school not being able to read. What they mean is they can't always analyse writer intent, use of language, make deductions in 45 minutes. I don't remember doing that until secondary school actually but there you go. It doesn't mean they can't read but if you continue to use testing as the driver that's all you're going to get. You can only get, really, the lowest of standards if you squeeze everything into such a narrow measure.
Of course schools SHOULD focus on creative tasks but the driver is so strong people are afraid to do this. This website is all about that, my job is all about that but having just about 2 terms visiting schools (always such a privilege) there is a strong sense of fear to do anything creative lest it should affect those results. In Suffolk this is all the more prevalent. Being hounded for poor results and told to be like other areas and do the same isn't the answer....it seems to me I should add. I'm just an interested party now as a teacher/headteacher!
Is the vision for Suffolk really about L 4s I wonder? I don't know because I'm not sure what is in it for the children. This week the headlines have been Suffolk is full of under achieving children and parents with low aspirations. We must offer choices but is it wrong to choose to stay somewhere and forge out a life with your family? I don't know. I moved away to uni (not too far). I came back to live fairly locally. Is it wrong if we choose NOT to go away? Recently I've had good reason to be thankful for some excellent local knowledge, helpful hands, people who know the area-it's still called learning!
Mandela spoke about what education can do for you. It can give you choices, it gives you hope, it can release you from where you are, it helps you follow your dreams. We need to start thinking bigger, dream beyond the narrow curriculum, allow our children to be creative in Suffolk. More of the same won't do. Don't shackle us into performing and driving up those standards in the narrowest way possible. It's not working is it? I haven't seen mention of what our Suffolk children think? I've seen lots of grown ups telling us but not one primary school child....what do they want from schools? They come every day so we better make it wonderful for them because that's our job. Making them do more tests and drilling isn't wonderful. Making them do more tests and drilling because they've been put into a category on a 'whim' of an inspector isn't wonderful for anybody. This is why it's very difficult to read the paragraphs about Suffolk children not having the chance for good education because of those Ofsted catagories. I think it would be unwise to totally believe those reports which, again, are based on data and those L4s and 5s NOT on courage, belief, integrity, humour, resilience and a love of learning. It's shameful that schools who are happy to forego their educational philosophy and squander what is right are now in the ascendancy and seem to be leading the way into passive, shallow learning. Where are the leaders of education for our children NOT education boxes?
This is purely my opinion. I'm very angry about it because I believe the path we're taking is wrong and I can't understand why if enough people also believe that we can't make a change and be true to what is right. I think the initiatives mentioned are about the same people doing the same thing and until we learn to work together properly and truly listen to each other we'll get the same over and over again for our children. I think the fear factor needs to be seriously looked at-it's very difficult to explore and rise up when people feel fear. We all need hope and belief and we need to create a proper TEAM just like a good leader does in a school. Am I being naive in saying surely that's what it's about in a local authority too. I don't know, I'm only a HT or Teacher but surely the same people skills need to be applied-we're all human after all.