One of the most pressing issues in English facing a large number of schools today is how to improve from being good to outstanding. The aim of this report is to improve practice in English across all schools and particularly to help them become outstanding. The report provides 12 case studies of schools which are successful in helping their pupils to make outstanding progress in English.
Published: May 2011 Reference no: 100229
GE Primary School ( Headteacher- Beatrix Simpson)
The Reading Dialogue - Reciprocal Teaching of Reading Programme
52. The explicit development of pupils’ speaking and listening skills is also key to achievement in a school where English is an additional language for most pupils. Teaching in English is characterised by a distinct and well-developed approach to group work. The school has replaced the more common primary school policy of guided reading with a group reading programme which it has adapted to suit the needs of its pupils. The principle behind this approach is that sharing observations and interpretations enhances what any pupil can do individually: ‘You have more fun. You look closely and see things you didn’t notice before.’ Pupils describe this approach as ‘giving and receiving’. Central to the programme is that children think of their own questions to discuss with their peers. This develops reading comprehension alongside independence and thinking skills.
53. One lesson observed showed how teachers managed this approach to group work on a class novel. The different activities were as follows. One group was led by a pupil selected by the other pupils. This was a productive exercise in enlightened decision-making: ‘We’re not judging people. We choose a leader to be happy. We give a turn to everybody.’ As pupils took turns to read aloud, leader’s role was to encourage others and to clarify, predict and question. Pupils shared ideas and knowledge, noting things down in their logbooks.
As ‘teacher’, the group’s leader took on considerable responsibility. If anyone else seemed stuck, it was his or her role to suggest an answer.
54. In the second group, pupils individually drafted questions based on the chapters being read that week and set them out in their week’s log. They had prompts to help them home in on important aspects; however, they also had some freedom to pursue their own lines of enquiry.
The third group worked with the teacher, reading aloud and then, after discussion, answering teacher generated questions in their logs. In the fourth group, pupils paired up to tackle the questions drafted by their partner on day two.
They discussed and evaluated each other’s contribution, drawing conclusions about what seemed important and what was simply of passing interest. Pupils in the fifth group worked individually, reviewing their week’s log, using a clearly structured framework to check that they knew the meaning and appropriate use of new vocabulary.
55. Pupils responded very positively to the clarity of this structure, to the sense of progress it conveyed, and the opportunities they had to show initiative. As one explained: ‘Because we’re doing it ourselves, we’re in control. We get the responsibility.’ This approach, which makes significant demands on the pupils’ oral abilities, complements the use of visual texts in the school to provide an original and distinct curriculum that has enabled all pupils in the school, including those learning English as an additional language, to achieve very highly in English.