Herts for Learning Back on Track: English
Sometimes it feels right to wait in the wings and avoid competing for centre stage. The whole ‘attention-seeking game’ can feel a bit crass. However, on this occasion, we decided that we are happy to shout about our latest offer – and to shout loud!
Since mid-May we have been thinking hard about what our schools might need for us to support them in the weeks and months to come. We knew that dealing with the immediate challenges of providing remote learning was crucial, but we also saw a bigger job on the horizon, that being, thinking carefully about how to support our schools to support all learners, and particularly the most disadvantaged, upon wider school re-opening. We knew this would take time, and so we started early. We are in the fortunate position of being both a really committed team, with a great deal of experience, as well as being in very close, regular contact with schools - both leaders and teachers. This has underpinned a great deal of time spent on discussion, debate, and contemplation, as well as design and revision which has led us to produce a comprehensive suite of resources that we are immensely proud of.
The Herts for Learning Back on Track: English packages will be released in July and will encompass a wide range of carefully considered tools, guidance and resources to ensure that the revised English curriculum is able to address the pressing challenges that lie ahead.
At the heart of the English suite of resources is a recognition of the following factors:
- Subject leaders have been incredibly busy dealing with the relentless onslaught of challenges that have come their way over the last few months. When have they had the time to think with the required depth about the task that will face class teachers come September? Perhaps SLs should use the summer holidays to re-focus their energies on producing a bespoke ‘return to school’ curriculum? We think not!
- Knowing what to prioritise upon wider school re-opening relies on expert subject knowledge. With this knowledge, Subject Leaders can consider what constitutes key learning within the curriculum and ensure that this is covered as a priority. It is our experience that SLs have strong subject knowledge of their respective curriculum areas, but whether they have had time to ensure that this expert subject knowledge has been translated into a reprioritised curriculum is an entirely different matter.
- In addition to bespoke small group or one-to-one teaching that our most disadvantaged pupils may receive from September, there will be an underlying need for all pupils to receive a revised curriculum that recognises what was taught well, and what may have been missed during the period of partial school closure. Quality whole class teaching will be essential in ensuring gains for all! Most notably, when returning from small group sessions, our disadvantaged pupils will need to receive daily whole class teaching that acknowledges the areas of the curriculum that requires a more considered pace and pedagogical approach.
These factors have resulted in a suite of resources from Herts for Learning that include not just an extensive range of bespoke, sequenced and focused plans for each year group, but also significant opportunities for CPD in the form of pre-recorded training sessions focusing on developing key aspects of subject knowledge (with a particular focus on foundational elements of phonics and sentence structure). In addition, the suite includes Progress Pathways that map out a re-prioritised curriculum well beyond weeks 1 & 2 (the English pathways map out a sequence of up to 23 weeks per year group). What is clear to us is that the gaps in learning brought about by extended school absence cannot be addressed in a matter of weeks.
Most notably, you won’t see references to the phrase ‘catch-up’ in our offer. Instead, you will see repeated references to terms that we believe better direct the pedagogical-focused conversations that all schools will need to engage in going forwards: terms such as, precision, re-focusing; prioritising. All these, and more besides, have the power to spark debates and actions that are much more likely to impact positively upon the progress of our disadvantaged pupils.
We recognise in light of recent government guidance that support may be provided in terms of individual tutoring for some pupils. Beyond this however, we know that schools will still need to focus attention on their provision at a whole class level: the mammoth task involved in supporting our most disadvantaged pupils make up for lost time will not be secured by a few interventions, albeit good ones. Alongside the hype surrounding the promise of extra support, we must remain focused on the crucial role that a skilled teacher can play in securing learning through highly targeted, precisely planned and, to be blunt, top-notch whole class teaching.
This cannot be rushed. For sure, pace will be crucial; indeed, timing will be of the essence, but rushing is not going to help anyone, especially the most disadvantaged. If schools go about trying to make up for the ground lost by racing through the curriculum content missed during this period then disappointment, frustration and inevitably fatigue will follow. If we really want to address the learning needs of disadvantaged pupils that will have mounted exponentially during this time of extended school absence, then we need to think beyond ‘catch-up’. Instead of quick-fire interventions and whistle-stop tours of curriculum content, what will be required is a significant re-thinking of expectations and curriculum planning approaches over the next few terms.
The English team at Herts for Learning have designed a comprehensive suite of Back on Track materials aimed to support leaders and teachers to offer an English curriculum upon wider school re-opening that prioritises key skills, ensuring that the foundations for core learning are addressed, explored and embedded.
Back on Track: English – suite outline
Progress pathways (per year group from years 1-6)
3 x whole school Back on Track Engage and Explore units
Back on Track: writing priorities tracker
3 x Focused English Plans (per year group – 18 in total)
2 x reprioritised Detailed English Plans (per year group – 12 in total)
2 x pre-recorded CPD sessions (subject knowledge focus: sentence structure & phonics)
Pre-recorded CPD session for the class teacher for each year group from years 1-6
Pre-recorded CPD session for English Subject Leader
Handwriting progression document
2 x spelling sequences per year group (from EssentialSpelling – 12 in total)
Spelling Trackback materials for years 1 – 3
For more details about this offer, including prices, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Back on Track support is also available for assessment, mathematics, science, languages, Early Years and wellbeing.