On your marks

Some teachers think that teaching to the mark scheme is a boring approach. But this course proved that it is possible to take a methodical tack, while still using lots of creative ideas.

The course was about improving results. It showed how to model your teaching methods on the Sats marking scheme. But there was more to it than that.

We started by looking at what the mark scheme asked children to do, then devised games and exercises to help hit those targets.

It was lively and active. We spent a lot of time playing with words. For example, we would take a simple sentence, then build it up by adding adjectives. Then we replaced the adjectives with verbs. It made you realise how exciting and flexible language can be.

I have since used the same exercise with my own classes and it went down really well, especially when I took a quick-fire approach.

I mark Sats papers every year, so I was already working along the right lines. But the course emphasised the importance of coming up with new ideas, so that children do not get bored.

It made me re-think things. I no longer teach whole lessons on grammar.

Instead, I include short bursts of five or 10 minutes as part of the daily routine. And I try to make it fun.

It's good to have a general aim of improving writing, but if you want better results you have to be ruthless and target the specific criteria needed for each level. This course gave you the confidence to do that.

I came away convinced that if I did what they told me, I would see an improvement. And that was a nice feeling to have Mary O'Mahony is deputy head at Manor Oak Primary School in Bromley. She was talking to Steven Hastings

The details

"Raising Standards in Writing at Key Stage 2" is run by Partnerships for Learning in association with NES Arnold.

It is part of a series of courses being run between now and November in a range of subjects. Price: pound;199 to pound;225, with a pound;75 voucher from NES Arnold to spend on follow-up resources.

For more information call PFL on 0121 260 6065.

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