Primary English for pragmatists
Primary English is written for trainee teachers working for the PGCE and is particularly, though not exclusively, aimed at those doing modular or part-time courses. It aims to help them meet the Qualified Teacher Status Professional Standards in English which came into effect in September . Essentially, Primary English is a guide to the National Literacy Strategy, the English national curriculum and key issues in organising English at school level. It is constructed on three progressive levels, with learning opportunities and activities at each level: getting to know the documentation; teaching a section of the literacy hour (eg shared or group reading or writing); teaching the whole literacy hour. Relevant teaching issues and planning are dealt with in each section - these are strongest where the author goes into greater depth. As anyone familiar with the volume of documentation and initiatives surrounding English teaching knows, making this accessible is no mean feat. The book contains some helpful activities and summaries, particularly in relation to shared and guided reading and writing. It also gives useful references to government documents, websites and readings from well-regarded authors.
If you need a guide through the maze of current documentation and requirements, this book offers clear explanations and will help. But if you want inspiration and the broader possibilities of teaching English at primary level, this is not the book. An understanding of how children learn to read and write, what being a reader and writer entails at different stages, and a knowledge of children's literature are just some of the areas of knowledge vital for successful NLS teaching. Teachers also need inspiration and creativity to help them transform those hundreds of "teaching objectives" into living and breathing literacy events for children.
Olivia O'Sullivan is assistant director at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, south London