For the most part, when students and parents (and even a lot of teachers!) hear terms like ‘literacy’ and ‘vocabulary’ being thrown around, they tend to come to the same conclusion: these are issues for the English department to solve. On the surface, this seems like a pretty sensible viewpoint. Maths teachers have all sorts of complicated equations they need their students to memorise, whilst Science teachers are working hard to ensure their classes understand simple old things like chemical reactions, the workings of the human body, and the endless expanse of space. Vocabulary seems pretty low priority, right?
Topics: Literacy across the curriculum
Since 2003, when the term "word gap" was first coined by Betty Hart and Todd Risley, teachers, academics and others have explored its existence and impact in primary and secondary education.
In this helpful infographic, we've pulled together some of the key findings from the likes of Oxford University Press, the Education Policy Institute, and our own digital vocabulary curriculum.
The term ‘skills’ can be quite a vague one. Humans have created, learned and mastered a fair amount of skills over the last hundreds of thousands of years - an amount that will only continue to grow as we carry on experimenting and innovating. We usually have to add qualifiers to specify precisely what skills or types of skills we’re referring to. Even the team responsible for UNESCO’s International Literacy Day found it necessary to offer their own personal definition when expounding on this year’s theme of ‘Literacy and skills’. According to them, “‘skills’ means knowledge, skills and competencies required for employment, careers, and livelihoods, particularly technical and vocational skills, along with transferable skills and digital skills.” The aim of the theme, they say, is to explore “integrated approaches” that aid both the development of these types of skills and the development of literacy.
Topics: International Literacy Day
The new school term is here! Teachers are once again donning their teaching caps. We’re starting to think about what new ideas and strategies we can bring to our schools and classrooms. And if a vocabulary curriculum is one of the ideas topping your agenda, then you’re on the right track (and if it isn’t, there are a lot of reasons it really should be). Understandably, however, building a new curriculum from scratch might seem like quite an overwhelming task. So, to help you get the ball rolling, here is a back-to-school vocabulary checklist, made up of key questions you should be asking yourself about how you and your school are teaching vocabulary.
Topics: Vocabulary Curriculum
Ah, the summer holidays - a time for teachers to relax and reflect on another successful year of teaching. But if you’re an eager (and perhaps a slightly nervous) NQT, you’d be forgiven for wanting to use this time to prepare for the beginning of your teaching adventure. Well, being organised is always going to make the process smoother (as long as you still make room for rest and leisure), so let’s talk about one of the more fun, creative parts of your summer checklist: the classroom display!
Ofsted. One of the many abbreviations that can shock a teacher with a sudden jolt of anxiety. Other contenders include GCSEs for secondary school teachers, and SATs for our primary friends out there. In recent years, the sense of pressure that comes along with each of these words revolves around the same thing: Ofsted’s accountability framework, which has been weighted heavily towards exam results, performance tables, and inspections. In 2019, however, this framework has undergone some pretty significant changes and one thing now takes centre stage: the curriculum.
Back in December 2017, Oxford University Press conducted an online survey with teachers from the around UK. The aim of the research was to explore the nature of the ‘word gap’ that exists for primary and secondary school students. Over the course of a month, the survey received over 1,300 completed responses from 840 secondary school teachers and 473 primary school teachers. The research culminated in a report titled ‘Why Closing the Word Gap Matters: Oxford Language Report’, which has just been released. You can read the report in full here. But for those of you who have 31 mock language papers to mark, we’ve comprised a list of our five key takeaways on ‘Why Closing the Word Gap Matters.’
It began in 1910. Over one hundred women from seventeen different countries around the world agreed to meet in Copenhagen for what would be the second ever International Conference of Working Women. Numerous issues were discussed and debated, from universal suffrage to women’s pay. One woman, by the name of Clara Zetkin, brought forward the proposal for a global day for women, in which all women around the world should celebrate their contributions in unison, and push for their respective demands. The proposal was unanimously agreed upon. The next year, over one million men and women participated in rallies and campaigns to fight for “women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination”. International Women’s Day had begun.
This morning, I woke up with a very unusual impulse to come into work dressed as the Cat in the Hat. After a short moment of introspection, I realised that this could mean only one thing: IT’S WORLD BOOK DAY!