It's show time

The seminar programme at the Early Years and Primary Teaching Exhibition in Manchester gives you the chance to catch up with the latest innovations. Jane Kemp gives a flavour of what's on offer

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Make literacy more vibrant

Gervase Phinn believes that giving children the opportunity to look closely at texts is at the heart of an inspiring literacy hour. "The most successful classes are those where the teacher actually teaches, for example by intervening in children's own writing to show them how to create an effective structure," he says. "It's no good just giving them lists of adjectives to bring into a story. They need to look at and interrogate texts by authors like Dick King-Smith, Adele Geras and Michael Morpurgo, to see at first hand how real, effective writers develop their work."

Gervase will give teachers a hands-on opportunity to look at texts, with guidance on assessing resources such as puppets that can help bring a literacy hour to life. "You'll return to the class with plenty of practical ideas that'll give your pupils clues and strategies for their own creative writing," he says. Gervase taught for 14 years before becoming an education adviser and school inspector. He is now a lecturer, broadcaster, author of more than 40 books, consultant for the Open University and visiting professor of education at the University of Teesside.

Blowing bubbles

Put early years science policy into practice in the foundation stage and infants

If you're responsible for foundation stage or infant science, Lynn Wright's seminar session will help to boost your confidence about long-term planning. "Science is now firmly established for three to seven-year-olds, so most early years teachers are no longer nervous about it," explains Lynn. "It's usually taught very effectively. I'll help you understand why you're doing it well and how to do it even better."

Lynn will show what a policy looks like and how to bring it to life. "It's not a hands-on session, and you won't come away with quick-fix activity ideas to use in the classroom the next day," she says. "What you'll gain is a long-term strategy for successful teaching of science - for example, how to plan imaginative play areas such as the "cafe" or "health centre" most effectively. I'll be suggesting activities within the whole range of science experiences, from splashing water to blowing bubbles, and giving you the tools to make the curriculum work."

Lynn originally trained as an early years teacher and was an advisory teacher for science and technology before becoming deputy head of a large junior school. She now writes and lectures on early years, and works for a number of national bodies.

Balancing the beast

How to prepare Year 6 pupils for science SATs, with strategies that work for English and maths too

Science doesn't always get the same attention in primary schools that is given to maths and English. This can mean problems if you inherit a Year 6 class where there are obvious gaps in the children's knowledge, but Roger Mitchell believes you can enhance the SAT results of any class. "There is enough time to cover what's needed, but the trick is to analyse what they'll need to learn to get Level 4, and to teach them that.

"I'll be suggesting plenty of ideas for use within and outside the classroom, and the strategies I've developed in school for getting children through science SATs also translate well into maths and English KS2 work."

His methods have clearly been successful. In the junior school where he is deputy head, 100 per cent of pupils gained level 4 in science last year, and 76 per cent reached level 5.

Roger is primary committee chair of the Association for Science Education, a regular contributor to education journals, and was a consultant on the TES Primary Secrets of Science series (see our centre pull-out). He has delivered in-service training at local, regional and national level, and was recently invited to lecture in South East Asia.

Exploding water

Keep science lively for parents and pupils

When was the last time science made you laugh? Dr Mark Biddiss's Science Zone sessions are designed to inspire and intrigue, so you'll come away armed with dozens of novel, enjoyable experiments . Who, after all, could resist an exploding water experiment, singing glasses, quicksand cornflour or farting balloons? "We're aiming to soften a difficult subject," explains Dr Biddiss, who works with Dr Jasmine Pradissitto taking science shows and workshops to infant and junior classrooms around the country.

"You really can do good science with simple things you'd find at home. We've found that teachers enjoy our sessions so much that they can't wait to share the ideas with their classes - and that's especially valuable for primary teachers who don't have a science background and may find the curriculum threatening.

"The successful Western economies rely heavily on science and technology, so we believe it's essential to get kids fascinated early on. And we can promise teachers a really practical, lively session."

Dr Biddiss and Dr Pradissitto have strong academic science backgrounds, and both worked in industry before developing their company, ProEducation. As well as working in schools, their clients include the Science Museum, Glaxo Wellcome and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Dr Biddiss is author of Dr Mark's Magical Science Book (Hands-on Publishing).

* The Early Years and Primary Teaching Exhibition takes place on Friday May 10 and Saturday May 11 at the G-Mex Centre, Manchester. Seminar spaces are limited and tickets cost pound;10.

Tickets to the exhibition are free.

For more details call the ticket hotline on: 01932 690646, or visit, or e-mail

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