SPONSORED PRODUCT: Wordsmith

Written by: HTU | Published:

With the final draft of the new national primary curriculum for England due to make an appearance very soon, and the new academic year winking slowly into existence beyond the ephemeral summer break, your thoughts may well be turning to change and transition.

With the final draft of the new national primary curriculum for England due to make an appearance very soon, and the new academic year winking slowly into existence beyond the ephemeral summer break, your thoughts may well be turning to change and transition.




Is that a fact?



Of course there has been plenty of controversy around the proposed changes to the curriculum. While the government says the new curriculum provides 'more rigour' and a 'greater focus on basic skills', it has attracted substantial criticism from education academics and subject associations alike for its perceived slide away from a curriculum that develops children's problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity to one based on learning facts. Lots of them.



For English this shift is embodied in a much greater emphasis on the teaching of grammar and spelling skills. The 'grammar SAT' introduced this year has been among the most controversial of Govian policies, with veterans such as Michael Rosen claiming that the teaching of grammar out of context, to produce 'right and wrong' answers, has little impact on children's ability to actually write.



Even Professor Debra Myhill, one of the advisers to the government on the English elements of the new curriculum, has publicly criticised the testing of grammar skills out of context, citing her own extensive research which shows that children learn to apply grammar best when it is learned in context rather than as a set of rules.




Combining the new with the tried and tested



In spite of this, however, at Pearson we believe that the new grammar focus is a positive — when done as part of a rich and varied programme. A more explicit look at the 'nuts and bolts' of language could help unlock the writing potential of more children, particularly those who don't have good models of language around them beyond the school gates.



Nor do the changes to your English curriculum need to be radical. Professor Myhill's approach of contextualised grammar teaching means you can retain the basic structure of your current literacy teaching – and build in more analysis of the function and effect of grammatical choices.



Which brings us to Wordsmith – an online programme for English designed to combine the best from the 'old regime' (shared reading of whole texts, talk for writing, shared writing) while also delivering the objectives of the new. The grammar elements in Wordsmith are written by Sue Palmer and Michaela Morgan, with every care given to making them fun as well as effective, while the underlying progression of the programme has been reviewed by Professor Myhill, so you know you're in safe hands.



Wordsmith also addresses the needs of teachers who may be feeling daunted by the prospect of having to teach grammar, having never learned it explicitly themselves, with a Professional Development course to help your staff get the most out of the programme.



Find out more about Wordsmith and try a fiction unit today.


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