English 3 to 19: A Better Plan

CLPE, NAAE, NATE and UKLA have come together to make a common statement about the curriculum and assessment in English across the whole school age-range. The statement sets out a better plan for the teaching and assessment of English 3 to 19 than is contained in current statutory requirements. It represents the views of the National Association of Advisers in English, the National Association for the Teaching of English and the United Kingdom Literacy Association. It has been written by John Richmond, with contributions from Andrew Burn, Peter Dougill, Angela Goddard, Mike Raleigh and Peter Traves. The statement is produced with support from the organisations just named and from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

The National Association of Advisers in English works to promote the highest standards of English teaching through the involvement of its members as advisers, inspectors, consultants, ITE lecturers and subject leaders in UK schools.

The National Association for the Teaching of English works to promote standards of excellence in the teaching of English from Early Years to University.

The United Kingdom Literacy Association aims to support and inform all those concerned with the development of  language, literacy and communication.

This statement is made up of 6 PDFs available to download. These are:

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The following extract comes from John Richmond’s introductory document.
“The purpose of this statement is easily explained. There should, in the second decade of the 21st century, be a professional consensus amongst those who teach English to children and young people, or who teach those children and young people in English, as to how to help them most effectively gain confidence and competence in the use of English. Such a professional consensus might draw on seven basic principles.

1. There is no intellectual achievement more intimately connected to a child’s and young person’s overall sense of worth as an individual and as a social being than the achievement of competence and confidence in the use of her or his language or languages.
2. The achievement of competence in any aspect of language is prior to and more complex than the achievement of the ability to analyse that aspect of language. Learners nonetheless continually engage in acts of reflection on aspects of the language they encounter and use.
3. The achievement of competence in any aspect of language is principally owed to the enjoyable experience of that aspect of language. Instruction in an aspect of language has a secondary but nonetheless very significant role to play in this achievement.
4. The learner’s brain makes dynamic generalisations from enjoyable experiences of language. These generalisations prepare the learner for new encounters with and uses of language.
5. The motivation for any productive or receptive encounter with or use of language is the desire and need to construct meaning. Producers and receivers of language are both engaged in the construction of meaning.
6. Examples of language and literacy in use in English and of potential value and interest to learners are vast in number and diversity. Some of that diversity should be evident in the selection of examples which teachers present to learners.
7. Learners’ experience of language in education should both value and confirm their linguistic, cultural and social backgrounds, and introduce them to cultural and social contexts beyond those they are familiar with.

It may be asked of these principles: what is so remarkable about them? Are they not self-evident, uncontroversial? The answer is: they should be, but they haven’t been. The reason why they haven’t been has something to do with the history of the contest for control of the teaching of English, language and literacy in our schools and colleges over the last five decades. It also has to do with the fact that worthwhile professional knowledge can sometimes be forgotten, get lost, in the welter of new initiatives and changes of course – often politically driven – affecting the curriculum.

The documents which constitute this statement aim to describe a desirable, intellectually sound and practically achievable consensus around which those who teach English or teach in English could unite. The statement is offered as a tribute and an encouragement to the professionalism of thousands of teachers in England, in the United Kingdom as a whole, and in the English-speaking world more widely. The proposals it contains are theoretical and practical frameworks within which teachers can take fuller responsibility for their professional actions than – in recent years and in England at least – they have been allowed to. For too long, teachers in England have effectively been treated as machine operators, given sets of instructions narrowly related to ‘method’, and told to follow them. Professional success comes not from adherence to any one method of teaching, but from a deeper understanding of the conditions for successful learning. To promote that success is the ambition of this statement.”

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