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Tes award winners on how to develop an English curriculum

Promote a love of reading, create awe and wonder and 'honk at each other' are among tips from the Tes English Team of the Year

TES English Team of the Year - Wyndham

The English department at Wyndham Primary Academy, in Derby, has been described as "a close-knit and highly inventive team dedicated to excellence and innovation".

The lead judge in this year's Tes Schools Awards also said: "They are rightly proud of the time and resources they not only put into their pupils, but also into their staff’s professional development; and all the time they prioritise learning, and a love of reading and writing."

Assistant principal and English teacher Michelle Garton shares five top tips:

 

1 Promote a love of reading

"Reading really is at the heart of our curriculum. Every half-term, children are bought a new book and their whole learning is based around that book, which they can take home and share with their family. The texts are chosen by the class teachers because of their enriching vocabulary and the experiences inside of the book, which may be beyond what children have experienced in their real life which really promotes and develops their imagination. We also teach the skills for reading such as fluency for confidence and, on the metacognition side, the different skills that they need for our Master Magnifiers such as summarising and inference. Each Friday, we also have something called DEAR time which is ‘drop everything and read’ in which adults and students really do just drop everything and read."

Read about how the team brings books to life here


Watch: highlights of 2018 awards ceremony

Enter: 2019 awards are still open for nominations until 10 March

Read: testimonials from Tes award winners


2 Oracy and collaborative learning

"Here at Wyndham, oracy really is the golden thread that runs throughout our whole curriculum. Wherever we can, we encourage children to talk, discuss, debate and reason with each other to really develop their understanding. This means here at Wyndham, the place is never quiet but that’s just how we like it, and it really encourages our children to be articulate and confident speakers. We also encourage collaborative learning in which teachers are able to facilitate learning and deepen understanding. We use things like Kagan Structures where children have to communicate with each other as part of that collaboration. As part of this, our ethos at Wyndham is all about the lessons from the geese [eg, as each goose flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the other birds that follow] where everybody, staff and children, work together and encourage each other to do well and 'honk' each other for encouragement."

3 Create awe and wonder within your classroom and across the whole school

"We make sure that we make every moment count and make learning experiences really memorable so that pupils are engaged and have that real thirst for learning…Every lesson begins with a hook whether that be a big one such as a crime scene of a special visitor who has come to speak to the children or a small one such as a film clip or posing a problem to the children."

4 Connecting learning

"All the time, we explicitly build on what pupils already know and what they’re going to be learning about next. This might be through things like quizzes at the end of the lesson or things like concept maps on which children can explicitly see the links between what they are learning. The research shows that the most successful learners are the ones who can make those links and retain that sticky knowledge that remains in their long-term memory so they can use it to be really, really successful throughout learning experiences."

5 Offer quality CPD to all staff…

"…so they have the skills and knowledge to develop a purposeful curriculum, deliver quality-first teaching and also have the ability to challenge and deepen pupils understanding. CPD that’s offered might be assessment, subject knowledge, curriculum design, use of working walls – but often these are posed to the staff as electives so they opt in and out of what they feel is necessary for them as part of their CPD."

 

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