Category Archives: National Curriculum

A vague curriculum needn’t mean vague progress

What is the most effective way of interpreting the requirements of the KS2 Programmes of Study for Foreign Languages?

The requirements of the KS2 Programmes of Study for Foreign Languages are somewhat vague. Indeed, how do you translate ‘speak in sentences, using familiar vocabulary, phrases and basic language structures’ into a four-year scheme of work? It is very much open to interpretation.

Not to mention how one might go about interpreting pupils’ progress – what exactly does ‘substantial progress’ look like?

Fortunately, Assessing Primary Languages is a tried and tested resource which has found answers to these questions by breaking the Programmes of Study into achievable, understandable objectives which are then cross-referenced across a total of four stages.

What’s more, the clearly laid out framework makes it possible to implement a unified tracking approach so that measuring pupils’ progress is effortless and, as such, can be used to plan subsequent lessons.

Both specialist and non-specialist teachers will find this rigorous tool, which contains a large number of creative and adaptable ready-to-use activities, to be invaluable.

For more information or to order Assessing Primary Languages for £37.99, simply visit: www.brilliantpublications.co.uk/book/assessing-primary-languages-743. 

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Filed under Assesssment, Brilliant Publications, French, German, Italian, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), National Curriculum, Primary school, Spanish, Teaching Ideas

What are the two most important factors that determine the success of French lessons at KS2?

For many years the answer to the question above came down to one factor: “the availability of a specialist teacher”. However, in recent years matters have changed.

This is, of course, mainly because so many primary schools don’t have a specialist language teacher. As a result publishers have put a lot of energy into the second important factor: creating materials that are specifically designed for use by the teacher who is not a language specialist.

Following this work, KS2 courses in French are now available which include stories, songs, games, and activities along with lesson plans giving creative teaching ideas that can be used by specialist and non-specialist teachers alike.

The teaching of French via stories has itself created something of a revolution in the way French can be taught by non-specialist teachers. Because stories introduce children to language structures in a natural and fun way, pupils quickly develop the ability to communicate and use the language with confidence themselves.

This is very much the basis of our particularly successful “Learn French with Luc et Sophie” scheme. Throughout this story-based scheme there is a combination of appropriate level storybooks for the children to read with clearly laid out, easy-to-use, creative teaching ideas aimed specifically at the non-specialist teacher. This complete approach takes the stress out of preparation and planning.

Each of the 14 units in “Learn French with Luc et Sophie” is based around a story featuring a young brother (Luc) and sister (Sophie) and their friends and family. The stories are topic-based and introduce key vocabulary and language structures relating to the topic. Each unit also contains an original song to reinforce vocabulary.

One problem teachers encounter when trying to share a story with a class is how to make sure everyone can see the pages and follow along. To ensure this isn’t a problem, we’ve created audio enhanced e-book versions of all the stories for use on a whiteboard. What makes these e-books particularly beneficial for non-specialist teachers is that with the click of a mouse you can hear them acted out by native French speakers so children will hear correct pronunciation.

Pupils will love the humorous twists at the end of the stories and will naturally pick up the rhythm and intonation of the language. Indeed, their confidence and self-esteem will grow when they realise they can read and understand these French stories.

Also, to help embed vocabulary and grammar language structures there are sentence-building activities for use on an interactive whiteboard.

In short, what happens is that the children will not only learn French through the evolution of the stories provided but also through the multiple ideas for teaching. This will make it easier to recall what they have learned and to use it to create sentences of their own.

There are full details about the scheme on our website along with links to our article on the seven reasons why using stories as a way of teaching French is particularly beneficial.

I do hope you will find this interesting.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), National Curriculum, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Springtime can be a source of great ideas for the Early Years

Springtime is fun – the days are warmer and the children feel happier. One idea is to set up a large spring picture on a wall or using powerpoint on a whiteboard, with a tree, pond and field. You can add frogspawn, tadpoles, frogs, blossom, spring flowers, etc as the season changes and as the children learn about them. Attach them with a tacky substance so that you can move them about and change the number of each of them on a weekly or daily basis.

Ask the children to count the number of butterflies, daffodils, tadpoles, lambs, ducks and caterpillars.

Each day or week change the numbers in the picture and ask them to count again.

Download the free worksheet from this blog and when the children are confident, ask them to complete it.

If you like this activity there are more in our book called Springtime Activities for the Early Years.

You can order Springtime Activities for the Early Years in any of these ways:

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, Early years, Key Stage 0, lesson plans, Mathematics, National Curriculum, Nursery and Preschool, Teaching Ideas

Dr Jekyll was a nice man, really …

There are two reactions when people know my job; I’ve started to wonder if I’m both Jekyll and Hyde, at the same time.

It is not so much that people ask me what I do, it is rather that when they hear what my job is, they make assumptions.

You see: I’m a publisher.  To some that makes me one of the good guys.  To others I’m evil incarnate.  Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in fact.  Both at the same time.

Dr Jekyll, the old friend, the nice guy, the one who helps people out; I publish books teachers quite like, and indeed, if you fancy writing a book, it is possible I can bring it to the attention of teachers all over the UK.

Edward Hyde, on the other hand, evil personified; he’ll probably take your book, eat it, and then set fire to your house.

Now, to explain….  I don’t think I am suffering from dissociative identity disorder (although on the other hand, if I am, how would I know?) which was the condition that Robert Louis Stephenson was told by others he was in fact writing about.

Stephenson later said he was so appalled at the idea that he was describing an actual medical condition rather than an allegory, he burned the original Jekyll and Hyde manuscript and started again.  (There’s no evidence for this, but it all adds to the book mystique; it was probably dreamed up by his publisher’s head of publicity.)

But no; when teachers send me books to consider for publication I do not burn them.  Not at all.  Never.  Not once.  Really.  Not at all.

No, my colleagues and I read the outlines and if we like the outline and think we could sell a fair number of copies, we ask to see the whole book.  Then if we still like it, we arrange for printing or creating an e-book.  Then we advertise it a lot, all at our own expense, and then we pay the author a fee for each book sold.

Edward Hyde, had he been a publisher, would, I suspect, have killed off each of his writers.  If you are worried about this you can look me up on the police database.  No charges for attempted murder of authors on file.

So that’s my point: we are the good guys – the Dr Jekyll without the propensity for assassinations or personality changing potions.

And indeed as the good guys we have even published a Graphic Revision Guide for The Strange Case of Dr J and Mr H, suitable for GCSE Literature students.

I’d recommend you have a look – although preferably without first dabbling with any strange potions.

And if you fancy writing a book for us, there are details of how to go about submitting it here.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, Key Stage 4, National Curriculum, Secondary school

FREE reading comprehension activities for Year One and Year Four

Take advantage of these free activity materials
from the Reading Comprehension Series Pack:

BPFarmyard

The Farmyard: story and activities (Year 1)

BPLions

Lions in the Garden: poem and activities (Year 4)

With the Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension Pack for Years 1 to Years 6 you can support your pupils on the journey from decoding texts to comprehending and thinking critically about texts.

The specially written passages in the Reading Comprehension Pack provide children with a variety of engaging texts, ranging from newspaper articles and dialogues, to plays, stories, and poems.

Activities range from simple factual recall and vocabulary work to open-ended questions – enabling the reader to provide a more personal response. There are also detailed suggestions for integrating writing, speaking and other literacy tasks with the passages.

The texts and activities gradually increase in difficulty as your pupils progress through the book (and through the series), encouraging children to develop their ability to read for meaning and use a range of strategies to engage with the text.

You can order the Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension series for just £95 at https://www.brilliantpublications.co.uk/book/brilliant-activities-for-reading-comprehension-series-pack-2nd-edition-518.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, National Curriculum, Poems and poetry, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

Are educational publishers just in it for the money?

Let me start by saying that I, for one, am passionately concerned about education and schools. I want our books to have a positive influence on schools. For this reason all our resources are written by teachers and we won’t publish something if we don’t think it isn’t of good enough quality. This means that sometimes publication schedules slip, as we spend more time than initially allocated, ensuring that both teachers and pupils will find our resources easy to use and that children will enjoy doing the activities.

The same holds true for the majority of educational publishers who I meet. They genuinely care about what happens in schools. Therefore I was very saddened by an article in the Daily Mail saying that educational publishers are just in it for the money.

Most educational publishing companies are commercial organisations so, yes, they do want to make money – money to pay their staff, money to invest in developing new materials. However, that doesn’t mean that the people developing the material don’t care about education and the quality of the materials they produce.

The unfortunate (and rather silly) person interviewed on the video (who I understand has now lost her job) was not on the team developing the resources. She was a sales person. In my experience, most sales people, no matter what they are selling, are interested in making money.

The article then uses this as an argument against the Common Core (which, for those of you who don’t know, sets out the minimum standards that children in the USA should reach). The article’s argument goes as follows: publishers make money through publishing resources to enable teachers to teach the Common Core. A sales rep says she does it for the money and not to improve the quality of education. Therefore Common Core is bad and should be scrapped.

Altogether it is a very silly article, but it did make me annoyed!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3394331/Textbook-sales-leader-says-national-Common-Core-education-standards-money.html

 

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, National Curriculum, News

51% of schools not confident at teaching MFL

According to the NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus (which has just been published by the DFE), only 51% of the 2088 senior leaders in primary and secondary schools reponding reported that they felt confident about implementing the National Curriculum for foreign languages.

Confidence levels were also low for computing, with only 40% of those surveyed feeling confident.

On the positive side, however, most senior leaders were confident about implementing the new National Curriculum in English, maths and science (80%, 78% and 71% respectively).

You can read the full report here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/483275/DFE-RR493_Teacher_voice_omnibus_questions_for_DfE_-_June_2015.pdf

As a linguaphile, I hope that now schools are feeling more confident about the core subjects, they will be able to turn some of their attention to foreign language teaching and resources.

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Filed under Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), National Curriculum, News