Why words?

This final page may help you get funding to bring a writer into your organisations – It’s other people’s  words that reflect and support the current thinking on why it’s important.

New focus on speaking and listening skills in primary schools.

Many papers have reported on the new focus on speaking and listening skills in the Rose review. According to the Times, the reforms come in response to concern that an increasing number of children suffer from “word poverty” and are unable to string together a coherent sentence by the time that they start school. The proposals, from Sir Jim Rose, a former head of Ofsted, place a strong emphasis on teaching children to “recognise when to use formal language, including standard spoken English”. They include how to moderate tone of voice and use appropriate hand gestures and eye contact. The reforms follow growing demands from employers for schools to emphasise skills in spoken English, amid evidence that some school-leavers lack confidence in basic tasks such as speaking confidently on the telephone to a stranger. Similar concerns were identified by Conservative MP John Bercow, who found last year that in some areas up to 50 per cent of the school-age population had speech and language difficulties. Commenting on the emphasis on speech and language, Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “The review clearly recognises the fundamental importance of all four key literacy skills – reading, writing, speaking and listening. Speaking and listening skills are sometimes separated from reading and writing, yet they are essential parts of literacy and have as great an impact on an individual’s life chances, happiness and success.”

Read the Times article at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/ Read the Telegraph article at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/primaryeducation/ Read a case study of a speaking and listening project in Reading at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life Read the Rose review press release http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns

Sir Jim Rose announces primary curriculum reforms

Sir Jim Rose has published the findings of the most fundamental review of the primary curriculum in a decade, and a series of recommendations to modernise it for 21st century pupils. The review was ordered by the Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, who asked Sir Jim to propose a curriculum which would inspire life-long learning while reducing prescription and giving teachers greater flexibility.

The review tackles subject areas, school starting age and core areas of learning, however does not examine testing for 11 year olds. The current curriculum, including its 11 separate subjects, will be replaced with six “areas of learning”, freeing teachers to pick and choose lesson content and do more cross-curriculum teaching, making links between science, maths and history. ICT has been elevated to one of three key elements, alongside literacy and numeracy. Literacy sits at the heart of the report’s recommendation for a renewed primary curriculum, and is explicitly defined as the four strands of language – reading, writing, speaking and listening. There is a new focus on spoken communication, and its impacts for future life and learning. The final report also has a greater emphasis on family involvement in learning, and suggests ways to help parents understand and be involved with the curriculum.

The six areas of learning are:
• understanding English, communication and languages;
• mathematical understanding;
• understanding the arts;
• historical, geographical and social understanding;
• understanding physical development, health and wellbeing; and
• scientific and technological understanding.

The areas of learning will continue to incorporate traditional subjects – such as English, mathematics, science, history and geography for example – but will also contain more provision for ICT, personal development and health and wellbeing and include essential skills for learning and life. Ed Balls has accepted the proposals in full. They will now be subject to a consultation led by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said:
“Sir Jim’s recognition that children need to enjoy learning, and that families need to understand and be involved with their children’s education is very encouraging. We know that family involvement in children’s literacy is one of the key factors in achievement.”

Read the Guardian article at www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/
Read the press release www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns
Read the NLT viewpoint

From Ofsted:

Pupils now need to be encouraged to apply their creative skills across all areas of their work

Schools involved in Creative Partnerships have stimulated pupils’ creativity and established the conditions in which pupils can further develop their creative skills, according to a new report published today by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

Creative partnerships: initiative and impact, found that most Creative Partnerships programmes in the areas surveyed were effective in developing in pupils some attributes of creative people: an ability to improvise, take risks, show resilience, and collaborate with others. However, pupils were often unclear about how they could apply these skills independently to develop original ideas and outcomes. Although their creative achievements were emergent rather than advanced overall, the conditions had been established in which further development could flourish.

Good personal and social skills were developed by most pupils involved in the programmes, including effective collaboration with other pupils and a maturity in their relationships with others.

Miriam Rosen, Ofsted’s Director of Education, said:

“Creative Partnerships have fostered creativity and the pupils involved have developed some of the skills which often define creative people. The challenge now is to ensure pupils develop the confidence and initiative to develop and apply these skills so that they work and think more creatively beyond the programmes.”

The partnerships, introduced in areas of deprivation in 2002, represented a fresh start for a small but significant minority of pupils. Opportunities to work directly in the creative industries, for example when pupils worked with fashion designers to design a new school uniform, motivated pupils and inspired high aspirations. Pupils whose creative abilities developed included those who had previously been unconvinced by approaches to learning or the value of education. Attendance and behaviour improved and for some pupils this signalled the start of a return to schooling.

Today’s report found that pupils benefited from working with creative practitioners, such as writers, environmental designers, entrepreneurs, artists and performers. The schools visited also showed that many pupils improved their key skills such as literacy, numeracy and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

However, programmes were less effective than they might have been because of uncertainty about pupils’ starting points and because activity that was insufficiently demanding of pupils’ creativity went unchallenged.

Teachers also learned through opportunities to work alongside pupils and had discovered how to think more creatively when approaching familiar tasks. These included teachers who had previously lacked belief in their own creativity and ability to inspire creativity in others.

Headteachers in the schools surveyed were committed to innovation; their flexibility and support enabled creative practitioners, teachers and pupils to try unfamiliar approaches. Several schools had developed a member of staff as the ‘creative ambassador’ who looked for additional opportunities to develop creative approaches.

Recommendations include:

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) should:

  • work together with Arts Council England to establish a framework that aims to give more pupils the opportunity to work with a creative practitioner.

Local authorities should:

  • use local knowledge strategically to help Creative Partnerships direct resources, and support and challenge specific schools where learning remains dull, underachievement stubborn, or the creative development and achievements of young people constrained.

Creative Partnerships should:

  • support schools by developing a systematic approach to monitoring that clearly identifies creative achievement, defines different stages of creative development and indicates more clearly the impact of targeted intervention.

Schools should:

  • identify as an integral part of school self-evaluation the specific impact of Creative Partnerships programmes on provision by evaluating how effectively the school enables all pupils to discover and deepen their creativity.

Creative practitioners and industries should:

  • seek ways to inform teachers, pupils and parents of the creative work done in programmes outside school to make clear the opportunities and challenges of involvement and employment in the creative industries

Mrs Rosen added:

“The programmes helped pupils to develop creativity so that their enjoyment and achievement are enhanced and they can contribute to the economy and society.”


More recently:



The combination of Arts cuts and the present  government’s devaluation of all that speak for creativity  bodes badly right now.  I am saddened by stories from good organisations who have lost funding and of schools who don’t bring in creatives due to lack of time and fear of Ofsted. Education is not classroom bound, neither is creativity a priority only for those who can afford it. Sometimes words need to be matched by action – sometimes the action is the word.


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