The National Association for the Teaching of English 2016 Conference began on the 24th June, the day that the referendum result was announced and closed on 25th June with a witty and poignant keynote from the wonderful Children’s Laureate (aka Launderette) Chris Riddell and plenty of laughter from delighted delegates. Simply being among so many positive people at a time of immense change really underlined the value of high quality events such as this one. Now is the time to adapt and plan for the likely changes that lie ahead; we absolutely must make sure that every child and young person learns in a safe and inclusive atmosphere.
How is it possible to achieve so much more when resources are already stretched and budgets are constrained? Here are a few ideas based on reflections from NATE 2016. Make sure that….
1. Every child is able to access the curriculum. It may be challenging to offer continuous speech and language support or EAL support because of budget constraints, but please consider investing in local, flexible, qualified, competitively priced, self-employed specialists.
2. Every child can see and can hear well enough to learn. Every year I meet a small number of children who struggle with reading because of poor eyesight or hearing. Sometimes, the problem is known, but has not been addressed – please find and prioritise these children and young people.
3. Every word matters. The eloquence and articulacy of the speakers and the delegates at NATE reminded me that our thoughts and words are among our sharpest tools and that we build our communities through language. The impact of language is immediate. By finding extraordinary words that are not only appropriate to the situation, but also are more imaginative, or more precise, or more motivational, or more compassionate than usual, we are better equipped to manage new situations and the challenges of changing situations.
4. Every decision is a positive decision. By resisting the opportunity to teach the same text in consecutive years, by choosing not to opt for the shortest text as a way to save time in the next academic year, we make decisions that will enrich rather than degrade every working day of the year ahead.
5. Every classroom community is friendlier, safer and stronger. Music is the social superglue of human evolution; it is remarkable in building social cohesion out of thin air and like superglue, a little goes a very long way. Looking forward to next time…
Please browse the website to find out how music and language can work together to promote reading and learning.