Changes to the school curriculum seems to be a topic regularly debated and commented upon by the government these days with wholesale changes being the order of the day as opposed to small tweaks. The days when an emphasis was placed upon the three R’s appeared to have long since departed but there are signs in recent times that some type of reversal to the core skills may be taking place. Flying Start has been talking to The English Team about their work supporting both students and staff in the art of writing.
Georgina Dawson established The English Team in 2004, and then brought in Sara Radley, forming a Partnership in 2005. Both had backgrounds as teachers in primary education and advisory/inspection work; Georgina had also worked in higher education and at a national level. They are both passionate about English and Drama.
Georgina said, “We believe English is at the heart of learning. It includes, but is far more than, the literacy skills of spelling, punctuation, grammar and both decoding and encoding words. It is concerned with understanding, insight, building a rich and meaningful vocabulary, creating stories, persuading, entertaining and informing others through talking, writing, speaking and listening. It is about learning to love, understand and extend language in spoken and written forms, to push the boundaries of understanding within these forms, enhanced through the senses of hearing and seeing, and enacting.”
Georgina and Sara work on the basis that there are both Reactive and Reflective writers amongst children. A reflective writer is likely to begin writing more quickly than a reactive writer, drawing from ideas already accessible in her/his mind and often drawn from domestic scenes or fairy tale-based scenarios. The reactive writer is one who wants to move, touch, talk and play in order to understand, develop and establish the vocabulary, sounds and actions which can be used, once played through. Reactive writers’ stories will often range across mythical and fantasy settings, with lots of action and sound effects represented.
The English Team introduced the Play-talk-think-write® approach to help with the reactive children and have had great success with both local authorities and higher education establishments. Play-talk-think-write Boxes®, and their accompanying Play-plans are based on research into story, thinking skills, listening and talk and can, and do, raise standards of attainment and The English Team are expanding the range regularly.
Georgina and Sara have the services of a number of highly qualified and dedicated educational professionals to work within the partnership in specialist areas. This has enabled the team to continue to be successful in both their work with students and staff.
Following on from their first ever English Team conference, in West Cheshire several years ago, at which Professor Michael Waters, then Director of Curriculum at the (British) Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), was the keynote speaker, Georgina feels that the company have increasingly been involved in supporting school staff from senior managers, in monitoring and evaluating teaching, to teachers, in assessing and developing children’s reading and writing. She feels there is great potential to expand their services into Free schools, Academies and the private sector and sees a rosy future for the partnership or should we say their success will be written in the stars.
You can contact The English Team via their web site at www.theenglishteam.com or by phone
0151 513 9410 or 0795 8156472 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
* The theory of Reactive and Reflective writers was first proposed by Donald H. Graves in his book Writing: Teachers and Children at Work published by Heinemann Educational Books in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, 1983