Our weekly message (Friday 22 March 2024)

Friday 22 March 2024

We’ve got to start this week’s message with a big thank you for all your support this week during the Ofsted inspection. Thanks in particular to those of you who submitted your views on Ofsted’s Parent View (you can check out the overall feedback) and who encouraged your child to submit their views.

It’s been a long wait, and one which has seen the goal posts shift: the criteria for a ‘good’ or an ‘outstanding’ grade are much harder than 2011! We’ve a while to wait for the report and the inspectors’ judgements to be released because there’s always a rigorous quality assurance process. We’ll let you know as soon as we can. In the meantime, we’ve been reading the report from 2011 – it feels so long ago, but 13 years on and Mrs Weekes, Mr Wilks, Mrs Taylor and I (and one or two teaching assistants) are still around!

This rest of this week’s message comes from Mr Catherall, the Writing Leader across Sphere Federation…

Words, words, words

We try to regularly give tips for you can help at home across various subjects. To help with reading, we encourage you to read with your child every day. To help with maths, we encourage the use of Numbots or Times Table Rockstars. To help with writing, we ask you to regularly practise the spellings that are sent home. But, there’s another way you can really help your child with their writing. Before the big reveal, a quick note on spelling…

Why spelling?

Spelling is a really important part of becoming a fluent writer. Our aim is for children to get to the point where spelling becomes automatic for them. When this happens, loads of ‘brain space’ is freed up to concentrate on the content of what you’re writing. If children are having to really focus on how to spell lots of words, they’re unable to write effectively because their brain is working in overdrive just to get the words down on the page (or device).

So, what’s the other way I can help?

Talk.

That’s it – talk to your child. All the time. About anything– it doesn’t really matter.

Being able to speak to others and communicate effectively is a crucial life skill. But, it’s one we need to practise. The more words you know, the better able you are to communicate with others. So, talk to your child as much as you possibly can. Don’t simplify your language, either. Children are sponges for learning new words so the more we can expose them to, the more they’ll have ‘in the bank’ to use.

If children can speak fluently, they can probably write fluently. The more words they know, the more varied and interesting their writing will be.

It’s not just us that think this. There’s a growing bank of research which proves how important vocabulary and language development is.

‘A child’s vocabulary is a big predictor of their future success,’ says Alice Penfold, Project Manager of the Words for Work programme at the National Literacy Trust. ‘It not only affects their chances of performing well in exams, but also their life chances.

‘For example, children who have a poor vocabulary at the age of five are four times more likely to struggle with reading as adults, and three times more prone to mental health issues.’

With this in mind, it’s well worth making an effort to build your child’s vocabulary.

One way we encourage you talk together at home is through our weekly Talk Time homework. This can be done over dinner, in the car, on the way to the park or swimming or football or gymnastics or wherever you need to be. It doesn’t need to be a serious chat but the prompt we give is one we think should stimulate some discussion.

If you need any help, or further ideas about how to support your child with their writing, please contact your child’s class teacher.

Finally, look out for your child’s latest Learning Update which will be sent home next week.