By Gary Alexander, Deputy Head Teacher
Without a doubt, the last few weeks of term in the run up to Christmas are by far the busiest and the craziest of the whole year. Pulling together the nativity plays and carol concerts while trying to keep pupils focused is no mean feat… and given it’s also a key assessment period, it’s not surprising that the workload pressure is full on.
We wouldn’t ask a child to run before they can walk… so why would we ask them to sit an assessment if they don’t have the reading skills to be able to decode what is being asked of them?
Well, in primary schools we wouldn’t dream of this. But when reading is one of the hardest skills to assess objectively, how do we truly know what level of reading comprehension a child possesses?
By Natasha Simpson, Deputy Head Teacher
“As any primary teacher will know, the transition from Year 2 to Year 3 is always a tricky one. Not only do we have to prepare teacher assessments by relying on our best judgement, the children are also suddenly faced with lots of new concepts and much higher expectations in terms of progress. Now, for maths and writing it’s very easy to objectively gauge where they are in their development. Reading is a completely different ball game.”
If you’ve read any of my recent blogs, you might have noticed that I believe picture books are vastly undervalued when it comes to the contribution they can make to supporting children’s reading development. So, as picture books appear to be a recurring theme as part of other blog topics, I thought it was about time I gave the ‘power of the picture’ book some dedicated ‘airtime’. With that in mind, I want to share with you ‘part one’ of my picture book series, where I’ve pulled together my top three list of ‘Golden Oldies’ along with some ideas as to how you could use them to support whole class reading.
During my time at Renaissance, I’ve been fortunate to work very closely with the schools on our Renaissance School Partnership Programme. During my visits to these schools, similar questions and concerns emerged; Literacy Coordinators, who were responsible for Renaissance Accelerated Reader, wanted to find ways to embed its success across the curriculum.
Access arrangements have hit the headlines recently, with the media focusing on ‘compare and contrast’ between independent and state schools. While the ratio for access arrangements is higher in independent schools, which has been attributed to ‘proper resourcing’ by the HMC, a group representing independent schools, Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager at Renaissance, believes that Star Assessments have a vital role to play in helping all schools to identify those children who need additional support.