Pupils can join English 21 debate

10th June 2005 at 01:00
Ideas and inspiration across the curriculum

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority English 21 consultation offers a great opportunity for developing group work in a self-contained lesson, encouraging participation and linking citizenship and English for every Year group from 7 to 13.

The consultation asks us to consider four key areas in thinking about what "English" should be like in the 21st century: English for all learners, ie, basic skills and a "reading heritage"; choice and flexibility in English; texts and technologies; and "ways ahead in assessment", such as e-assessment. You can choose any area or a mixture of the four.

Pupils begin a lesson by describing an imaginary pupil in Year 1. The pupil will come to the end of compulsory schooling in 2015. What will life be like by then? What skills will be needed? What uses will English have?

Then divide the class into groups. Through discussion they create a spider diagram around each topic. For younger classes prompts are provided:

"reading heritage" is a difficult concept, but asking what they think everyone should read is easier. After half an hour or so of group discussion, they give feedback to the whole class. This is often animated; older classes in particular like to get their teeth into whether Shakespeare should be taught.

Where do participation and citizenship come in? Send a summary of the discussions to the QCA - telling your class - and bask in their resulting feeling that grown-ups care about their opinions. The consultation ends in July, so there is still just time to get involved.

And for lower ability classes? Well, alongside some of the more difficult questions, mine came up with some fantastic designs for the classroom of the future.

Victoria Elliott

English teacher, Harrogate Grammar School, North Yorkshire

* QCA English 21 consultation: www.qca.org.uk11775.html

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