Time to take the reins;Primary;Reviews;English;Books
On the day the Password English evaluation pack arrived for review, I came across two Year 5 teachers standing back in despair from various heaps of literacy sheets used since the beginning of the school year. They felt the time had come to sort the good from the bad, and store the former away for future use.
English co-ordinators are healthily resistant to buying scheme materials, and there is a general mindset that views structured resources as desirable in maths but positively harmful in English. Class teachers do need to be listened to, however, and one of the things they say about the literacy hour is that it takes an inordinate amount of time to find (and then collate and keep) good resources to match the aims of the framework.
Password English is not a textbook series hurried out to cash in on the literacy hour but a fully comprehensive English resource, meticulously matched to the literacy strategy. Thirty-nine schools are thanked for helping to trial its materials, which comprise, for each key stage 2 year group: a big book for whole class work; a textbook and a set of photocopiable sheets for differentiated group work; homework sheets; an anthology and a spiral-bound teachers' book. The latter sets out detailed lesson plans, cross-referenced to the resources in the scheme.
Each element is interdependent. A textbook unit on newspapers, for example, asks children to "write sentences for the headlines you made up" - an instruction that will be meaningless unless the teacher has followed the whole-class introduction as suggested in the teacher's book. Welcome and pragmatic reference is made in every unit to information andcommunications technology.
By purchasing the discounted evaluation pack and five additional textbooks and anthologies for group work, a year group could be equipped for a little under pound;150.
No class teacher can be expected to come up with brilliant ideas and materials day in and day out, and freebie downloads from the National Grid for Learning will never entirely displace commercially printed materials. Any co-ordinator who hasn't seen these materials yet should sendoff for an evaluation pack - they'll probably end upkeeping it, especially if colleagues have a say.
Michael Thorn is deputy head of Hawkes Farm primary school, Hailsham, East Sussex.