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Kings Road Primary School

Up-levelling for Raising Standards in Writing

One of our Year 4 pupils, Ryan brought me some of his creative writing to show me and it suddenly struck me that he wasn't showing me the first draft of his fantastic writing but something quite different.

Ryan was, in fact, proud of his skills in editing and improving his own work through a process called, Up-levelling which involves reviewing the work and subsequently making amendments and additions to the writing. Needless to say I was very impressed. It's not an easy skill to find errors with your own work and then annotate it, especially for a pupil like Ryan who is conscientious and has high expectations for everything he does. 

One of my roles at Kings Road Primary School is to continually review 'what we do' and measure / analyse the the impact of 'what we do.' At the beginning of the academic year I introduced to staff Next Step targets which was founded on our earlier work to improve the Marking and Feedback policy. This earlier work was about providing pupils with greater quality feedback for improving their work. Next Step targets is a snug fit, as it lays out a pathway for children to know how to reach higher National Curriculum levels and the criteria is broken down in sub-levels. So far this is working extremely well and pupils are becoming very savvy at knowing what there Next Step target is and what this means for their own improvement and development.

What is significant about Ryan's work is that he is already beginning the next process which is to review work-in-progress and look for how he can improve this work to reach another sub-level or two. The information for improvement comes from the Next Step targets which are in every child's Writing and Numeracy books. This higher order skill is very much in the arena of pupils having a deeper understanding of learning and how to improve. Powerful stuff.

Useful hints:

  • Enlarge pupil's work from A4 to A3 using the photocopier.
  • Encourage pupils to write on alternate lines.
  • Provide pupils with level descriptors so that they know what the features are of each sub-level.
  • Pupils work in pairs, introduce the concept of 'critical friend' or 'reviewer.'
  • Edit in another colour so that the edits stand out.

The Next Step targets alone are having a significant impact on raising standards and achievements with a greater proportion of pupils achieving a sub-level or more than in previous years when comparing term-on-term.

There is much more innovation to come and this will lead to further impact on learning. Exciting times ahead.

Role Play and its place in the Primary Curriculum

researcherIt never ceases to amaze me how important Role Play is in engaging pupils in understanding and performing tasks to the best of their ability. I remember quite early on in my teaching career when I was working with friends from Ultralab on an eTui research project. The afternoon involved my pupils playing with toys, a radio controlled car, a programmable toy and an eTui (a meta-level learning toy.) We asked my pupils to complete a questionnaire about what they understand about how each toy moved, what it sensed and how it responded to the environment in which it was being used. 

Crucially, we gave the pupils the title of 'researcher' and issued them each with a clipboard. Short of giving them a white 'lab' coat, they were every bit the researcher, and assumed that role throughout the afternoon. Interestingly enough, I remember questioning how most of the children understood the role of a researcher, yet their experience of what a researcher actually does was limited.

Recently, in discussion with colleagues during lunchtime, I reiterated how significant children in my Enterprise Team, had taken to the idea of being in-role as designers, inventors and business people. Here's why.

Over a period of 4 days next week, pupils at Kings Road Primary School are taking part in an Enterprise Week. The pupils have been tasked with designing and making products (or providing services) to sell with the intention of making a profit on the £50 they have received to buy resources. The ideas that each team are developing are already proving to be highly secretive and there is much competition between teams and keeping ideas top secret is the name of the game.

Logo Design Sheet Primary School

Whilst pupils in my team were in-role, I had them sign a child-friendly version of a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) which gave them a sense of loyalty and assurance to each other that our ideas will not be shared with other children or teachers. Whilst other pupils have since shared confidential information, my team haven't. How significant was role-playing in ensuring that our ideas weren't readily shared with others?

Today, we finalised our plans, discussed and voted on our team name, 'The F Factor' and began work on designing a logo for the team. Again, I used role-play with the help of preprinted stationery to ensure pupils engaged with the idea of being a creative designer for our team. The logos they presented were of a high standard and their understanding of the task was obvious in the designs they had produced.

Role-play had an enormous significance in the primary classroom and is not just the domain of Key Stage 1 pupils, but can, and should be given opportunities throughout all year groups in the school.



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