Start of a habit for life

Dennis Hamley

THE WRITING REPERTOIRE: DEVELOPING WRITING AT KEY STAGE 2 Compiled and Edited by Felicity Rees NFER Pounds 10 From National Foundation for Educational Research The Mere, Upton Park, Slough Berks S11 2DQ.

Two years ago, The Reading Repertoire from NFER proved invaluable for primary schools unsure about precisely how to interpret the English Order.

That publication, both demanding and reassuring, showed there was still scope for a wide-ranging, inclusive model of reading which gave a sophisticated view of what constitutes competence and could develop discrimination and a critical sense as well as pleasure and a habit for life.

The new Writing Repertoire will fulfil a similar role. It is set firmly in the context of the 1995 English curriculum - and, indeed, its provenance and its interpretation of that order will remind teachers that the view of writing taken here will be close to that assumed in the key stage 2 English tests. And, once again, a wide-ranging view it is, with a long and reassuring list of contributors who represent some of the best thought and practice of recent years and with examples culled from long classroom experience.

After the introduction on extending the range of writing, there are three sections: Developing Effective Writing, The Role of the Teacher, Planning, Drafting and Revising. Many of the principles made familiar in the National Writing Project and the Language in the National Curriculum Project are restated and developed - purpose, audience, form, process: the links between speaking and reading. The cold wind of the nineties did not blow them away after all. The relationship assumed between writing and reading is especially welcome: the principle that the two, though often separated in the curriculum, are intertwined is firmly maintained.

In the practical activities the work of authors who often appear in The Reading Repertoire is constantly used as models for different kinds of writing. There is a useful sub-section on IT and, very importantly, a discussion on the messages adults can give about writing - including a crucial restatement of the need for teachers to be seen writing alongside children.

Half the book is taken up with tested practical activities. These include photocopiable sheets. For each form of writing there is a list of text models which will have the effect of letting children realise that what they are doing is the same as the writers whose work they enjoy: the difference of degree and not kind is animportant one to understand and so are the virtues of emulation. The book ends with comprehensive assessment grids and record forms as well as a booklist which emphasises the continuity from The Reading Repertoire.

This is an important resource for the key stage 2 teacher.

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