Put down the pens and chat

26th May 2006 at 01:00
The pens have gone down but the grades have gone up in a Ceredigion primary school that is encouraging chat in the classroom.

At Ysgol Llangwyryfon, near Aberystwyth, headteacher Sue Rees-Butterworth has moved away from the traditional image of pupils beavering away over books in a bid to give her young charges a wider perspective on the world.

Sue, and her staff of one teacher, a nursery nurse, and two community volunteers, encourage the 41 bilingual children to talk, question and listen rather than write.

"I came to realise the importance of stopping writing and starting talking.

Good oral standards must precede good reading and writing standards," she said.

Initially she feared the response her approach would receive from parents and inspectors. But she came to realise that success could not be measured in ink.

"With the arrival of the national curriculum we were all concerned with the contents of our delivery rather than what the children were getting out of it," she said. "As soon as you have parents evenings, governors' meetings, and visiting inspectors, you feel you need evidence to show them.

"Suddenly I felt I was making these poor children write all the time. But writing is such a laborious task that I decided I did not care what anybody said."

Instead, Sue encouraged group and discussion work.

"Group work ensures that all the children are engaged. If you say 'Don't tell me, chat to your friend', a wonderful buzz goes through the room, with everybody getting involved."


Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today