This week our EYFS forum was hosted by Hill Mead Primary School and our topic was how teachers encourage children to write in Early Years. Our teachers encourage children to write in all sorts of ways: labelling, making lists, registers, letters, mind maps, cards and envelopes. There was general agreement that children enjoyed writing about their own interests and taking ownership eg at Christmas time, staff put out catalogues and children made Christmas lists from them; children set up shops and wrote lists of what they had in there. Hill Mead have introduced using writing books for children in which they can keep their work, and they get a sense of pride from having their work in there. St John Divine staff display all writing on the wall in the classroom. Archbishop Sumner Primary staff attended an Early Excellence training which they have put into practice very successfully. Again the focus was on child initiated writing, with the teacher taking time to move around the children as they engage in activities and encourage them to do some writing as part of it eg writing labels in the construction area. Throughout the week the teacher will do 1 to 1 writing with all the children. They will scribe particular words for some children in order to help them not give up on a sentence they are trying to get down on paper. Children had enjoyed making their own books and writing in them.During the recent snow, teams changed their planning to give children a chance to write about the snow: they changed the phonics focus to support the children. The freeflow environment in some of our schools has supported writing where learning is child led and children write for purpose. Our next meeting will be hosted by Archbishop Sumner where we will be sharing topic and trip ideas and planning.
Friday 16th March was the date for the culmination of a term’s work in Science involving year 5s from BLC Primary Schools and year 9s from St Gabriel’s College as students presented their experiments at the BLC Science Fair. The event was put together and hosted by one of our secondary schools, St Gabriel’s College and it was dedicated to the life and work of Professor Stephen Hawking who died this week, which is also British Science Week. Students from St Gabriel’s spoke about Professor Hawking and his huge contribution to Science. The children from our primaries had planned a wide range of experiments, based on investigative questions, including: Which fruit has the most electronic resistance? Do drinks have the same acidity, Does the type of soil effect plant growth? The entries were judged by 2 Kings College University students who are part of the Kings Scholars programme in partnership with St Gabriel’s. All the children produced fantastic work, and the winning team came from Archbishop Sumner Primary for their work on ‘Do Metals burn different colours?’. It was great to see so many parents and teachers attend the event and congratulations to all involved, with special thanks to St Gabriel’s Science Department.
It was great to see so many of our teachers get together for our year 2 and year 5 writing moderations this week, hosted by Archbishop Sumner and Jessop Primary Schools. During this process this year, we have tried to focus on teachers’ focussing on reading each others’ work samples and drawing on their professional expertise and knowledge of their own children to draw conclusions on the standard of writing, next steps and expectations for the end of the year. Being able to share expertise across the room: some teachers bringing several years’ experience of working with a particular year group, some who are literacy leads in their own schools, some who are NQTs, has been very valuable. There has been some very encouraging feedback from the sessions and a desire for longer sessions and more in other subject areas.
Last week teachers from both Year 6 and Reception classes met to work together, moderating writing. It was great to see so many teachers working together.
At the Reception moderation, 11 teachers shared how they select evidence of reading and writing. They agreed that videoing children reading was really worthwhile. They went on to explore compare work of children at Emerging, Expected and Exceeding levels in Term 4 of the 6 term year. A useful document was shared, ‘An exploration of Expected and Exceeding descriptors in the EYFS profile’, published online by Oxfordshire Early Years, Oxfordshire CC (www.oxfordshire.gov.uk). Feedback from the session showed teachers found this opportunity very valuable and would like to work together on the other profiles. THanks to Stockwell Primary for hosting the event.
Year 6 teachers also held joint moderation, hosted by St Saviour’s Primary, which was very productive and includes a mix of teachers experienced and new to year 6. This sharing of experience was highlighted as a really valuable exercise and particularly our single form entry schools requested more year 6 teacher meetings during the year to support planning and moderation.
Last week, year 4 teachers from 7 of our primary schools got together to look at writing across their schools. Our aim with moderation is to encourage teachers to get away as much as possible from using any tick lists to assess writing in these sessions, but for teachers to be able to feel confident in their professional judgments of what year 4 writing should look like and next steps for pupils. It was a really rewarding session with teachers commenting on the value they place on being able to look at children’s work from other schools. Exemplars from the meeting will be shared on the blog at a later date. Many thanks to St John’s for hosting and leading this session.