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Complex theory into sound class practice

A new framework to assist teachers in literacy development within the 5-14 English language curriculum is being piloted in nursery, primary and secondary schools throughout Aberdeenshire.

The Aberdeenshire Literacy Framework, issued in ring-binder and CD-Rom format, provides a practical and user-friendly model for teachers at all levels and is based on research by independent education consultants Ron Fyfe and Evelyn Mitchell.

Eleanor Anderson, assistant project manager (intervention), says: "Dr Fyfe is not only a theorist but also has an understanding of the classroom. He has a remarkable ability to translate complex theory into sound practice.

"His model is based on knowledge of how language and literacy develop and takes on board not just decoding, encoding, comprehension and composition, but also task impression - the child's understanding of what it is he or she is being asked to do."

Dr Anderson and project manager Elizabeth Engels also worked with speech and language therapist Sara Jones, who contributed to the holistic approach.

The framework introduces a new dimension to early literacy, with two levels prior to level A. Feedback from primary schools has been positive, as teachers can now record more fully a child's progression towards level A.

Ruth Mackenzie, headteacher at St Fergus Primary, says her P1-P7 staff have been using the framework since January and are finding it extremely useful. "Like anything new, it took a while to get used to it, but they see it as a tidy planning format that gives them the 5-14 strands and space to fill in the related activities they propose to use, as well as a box for resources and homework.

"Particularly useful is the focus on planning assessment opportunities, recording and evaluation. We believe it is very compliant with the How Good is our School? quality indicators," she says.

The framework is being piloted in 37 schools this term and associated staff development is available for all Aberdeenshire teachers. It is part of the Aberdeenshire Literacy Development Project, which has its roots in authority work on early intervention.

"This is one of the few schemes in literacy education that covers the broad span of literacy development," says Aberdeenshire's head of education, Jim Banks.

"One of our major objectives is to improve literacy across the board and we believe this project represents long-term sustainable development for Aberdeenshire children."

Jim Banks, tel 01224 665427

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