Embedding English: From Classroom to Common Inspection Framework

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16 November 2015 by ATL
As part of ATL's Union Learning Fund project, ATL Midlands have organized their first English and maths week. This is the first of three blogs we'll feature this week from Joanne Miles about embedding English.
Spoon puppets

We’ll be looking at how the embedding of English is highlighted in the new Common Inspection Framework from Ofsted and how teachers are responding to this in the classroom.

Over recent years, there has been an increasing awareness of the need to develop learners’ English skills more effectively through class tasks and home study. Teachers in all sectors have been highlighting these skills explicitly within planning and delivery so that learners are aware of them and can learn to harness them in study, life and work.

This year, the new Common Inspection Framework: Education, Skills and Early Years (August 2015) for Ofsted inspections also reflects this focus: Quality of teaching, learning and assessment

  1. Inspectors will make a judgement on the effectiveness of teaching, learning and assessment by evaluating the extent to which:
    • where relevant, English, mathematics and other skills necessary to function as an economically active member of British society and globally are promoted through teaching and learning.

Outcomes for children and other learners

  1. Inspectors will take account of current standards and progress, including the provider’s own data, and make a relevant judgement on academic and other learning outcomes for children and learners by evaluating the extent to which they:
    • progress well from their different starting points and achieve or exceed standards expected for their age
    • attain relevant qualifications so that they can and do progress to the next stage of their education into courses that lead to higher-level qualifications and into jobs that meet local and national needs.

(Common Inspection Framework 2015, page 14) For me, this means working on the English skills that learners need in order to achieve well on their current programmes as well as thinking about where the learners are going next after they leave our care. It is about looking at the learner in a more holistic way, as a learner and worker for life, and developing the skills and knowledge that will support their journey over time. So, how are we doing this in classrooms as practitioners?

  1.  At the aims and objectives/outcomes stage of the lesson, teachers are often eliciting or explaining the English skills that will be practised within that session or topic.
  2. Teachers are also making explicit links between the English skills practised in the lesson and where else they can be used in study, life and work. This can help learners to see the relevance of this aspect of their lessons and understand the links between topics and wider skills and knowledge development.
  3. In lessons, teachers who are embedding English effectively are highlighting a few key skills that emerge naturally from the content. They are not wrenching in English skills where they do not logically sit! It is all about using our professional judgement to highlight what is there as opposed to forcing in something that isn’t relevant.
  4. Teachers are thinking about how to prepare learners for reading (a few prompt questions, some visuals, a prediction task)
  5. Teachers are thinking about how to prepare learners for writing (model essays; a writing frame with language prompts; a guidance sheet with tips on how to structure it)
  6. In some classes, I see a plenary slot in which learners work in pairs to identify the aspects of English they have practised in that session. They sometimes carry out a self or peer assessment against criteria provided by the teacher, related to their use of English in that session.
  7. In many schools and colleges I see people threading these approaches through Schemes of Work/Plans for Learning so skills are developed over time. We don’t need to cover English skills in every session as long as the coverage over time is appropriate.

The Common Inspection Framework: Education, Skills and Early Years (August 2015).

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