Thursday, 21 September 2017

Book Review: 'The Grotlyn' by Benji Davies

Before you even get to the text in this book, there is much to feast the eyes and mind on. The cover (including the one hidden under the dust jacket) and the double-page spread preceding the title page are gloriously illustrated in smokey muted hues which evoke a particular sense of place and time. The backstreets of a Victorian city are brought to life by a cast of intriguing characters. Children will linger over these pages providing adults a chance to question and discuss what can be seen - a perfect opportunity to explain exactly what a barrel organ is and does.

The title page itself furthers the intrigue with its snatch of song - what is The Grotlyn? Benji Davies does a sterling job of reeling in the reader, child and adult alike.

The first page of text sees the book set out its stall in terms of vocabulary - this is going to be rich in language: 'But what at first we think to be, The eye does blindly make us see.' Pick that apart with an 11 year old, or leave it be with a littler one - the story works on many levels. Every new page brings another beautiful turn of phrase - perfect for the budding logophile.

Once you've read this captivating rhyming text and pored over the images, you'll find yourself working your way back through it, picking up on the clues that the author skilfully weaves through both words and pictures and making sense of them in light of the uplifting (literally) ending. As the mystery unravels, children will delight in the antics of the book's protagonist, and by the end, they will be rooting for the once-frightening Grotlyn.

Every inch of the book is awash with clever and deliberate authorial choices and decisions that make several re-reads an absolute must. The illustrations alone could spark lengthy discussions when presented in or out of context - for teachers, there is so much material to use here.

For those wanting to go a little deeper, the concept of freedom is a main theme here. Should animals be kept in captivity? Why do people want to escape certain aspects of their life? What causes humans to go to great lengths, sometimes even breaking laws to attain freedom?

However this book is read, it is certain to become a favourite for all those who are fortunate enough to experience it. Benji Davies has delivered another thought-provoking, multi-layered picture book that is sure to be enjoyed by readers of all ages. 

For an interview with Benji Davies click here.


Friday, 15 September 2017

9 Important Changes to the Primary Maths Curriculum and Assessment

In response to the DfE's latest documents, I wrote this for Third Space Learning. It's a summary of the key changes in the way primary maths will be assessed over the next few years:

On 14th September, just as we were all getting settled into the new school year, the DfE published not one, but two documents of considerable importance: ‘Primary assessment in England: Government consultation response’ and the 2017/2018 ‘Teacher assessment frameworks at the end of KS2’. Both documents reveal changes that will no doubt affect our approach as teachers and leaders.

Whilst the most imminent and significant changes involve writing and reading, there are also some interesting developments in Maths.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Meeting The Needs of Lower Attainers In Whole Class Reading Sessions

Perhaps the biggest worry for teachers when considering the switch from the guided reading carousel to whole class reading is how children of different 'abilities' will manage in the lessons. There are, however, various strategies a teacher can employ to support learners with different needs.

You'll have noticed that above I enclosed the word abilities with inverted commas. The first strategy is for a teacher to alter their way of thinking about ability. One possible problem with the guided reading carousel is that children aren't challenged and are only given books and reading activities which are aimed at their perceived ability. This is probably particularly true on the days when that 'low ability' group doesn't have an adult to work with. As many before me have pointed out (including Bart Simpson: "Let me get this straight. We're behind the rest of our class and we're going to catch up to them by going slower than they are?") by taking this approach we run the risk of children never reaching whatever might be considered to be age related expectations - there just won't be time! These children will need to make accelerated progress in order to reach, or become closer to, the expected level. In order to make this progress in reading they will need to be supported as they attempt to access the text that has been selected for the whole class. It might be better to refer to these children in terms of their current levels of attainment or achievement, rather than in terms of a more fixed ability.

With high expectations, plenty of targeted support and a whole load of positive encouragement, most children who are currently working below age related expectations will have the chance to make accelerated progress whilst taking part in whole class reading sessions.

By teaching reading whole class last year we noticed that it was the children who had arrived in year 6 below age related expectations (ARE) who benefited most from the lessons. Whilst these children didn't achieve a score of 100 or over on the KS2 reading test, progress was evident in a number of ways:
  • Teacher assessment against the national curriculum objectives (and the interim objectives) showed vast improvements in reading achievement for these children.
  • When comparing both number of marks gained and scaled score achieved between the 2016 test taken in December and the 2017 test in May, children arriving well below ARE had, on the whole, made the most improvements. (I am happy to share some more specific data on this.)
  • Confidence and enjoyment are immeasurable but it was obvious to the adults working with these children that whole class reading really made an impact in these ways.
There are, however, some children in your class who may be working so far below expectations, perhaps due to a special educational need, who won't be able to access whole class reading even with the suggestions outlined below. Teachers have a responsibility to provide meaningful learning opportunities for all and as such you should use your assessment and discretion when deciding who should and shouldn't take part in whole class reading.

So, how can you support children currently working below ARE during whole class reading sessions?

Read Aloud

Although the point of a whole class session is to challenge - and as such you'd expect children to tackle most things independently during some parts of the lesson - children should have all aspects of the lesson modelled to them too. This applies to the actual reading itself.

As I wrote in this TES article:

"Reading aloud allows children to access high level texts, enables them to hear how unfamiliar language and sentence structures should sound and is proven to aid comprehension of a text; teachers should regularly read aloud to children. The Teachers as Readers project also found that hearing books read aloud gave children a model for their own independent reading. Children also benefit from opportunities to read aloud themselves."


Even if the text is difficult for them to read (decode) independently, by having it read aloud to them they have the opportunity to show that they understand (or comprehend) it, just as they might understand anything that is spoken to them. Repeated exposure to a text will aid with their increasing understanding of what is written.

Although this technique supports children who are currently lower attainers, it is worthwhile providing this opportunity to all children.

Group Work

Here we are essentially looking at a traditional guided reading session: teacher working with a group whilst the rest of the class are working independently.

What that 'working' looks like might differ. It could be any of the following:
  • discussion about answers to questions leading to writing a group answer which the children can record.
  • further shared reading (aloud) and more general discussion, possibly focusing on word meanings and ensuring a general understanding of the text before they then attempt to answer any comprehension questions.
  • working with children on modified activities and/or with modified versions of the text (see below for more).
  • allowing the children to work in pairs or as a group to collaboratively answer the questions without an adult present.
This approach means that, if you have an additional adult in class, there is the possibility of having two such groups on the go at any one time. Alternatively, the additional adult could attend to any needs that those working independently have, leaving the teacher to concentrate on the group. If you're lucky, your additional adult might even get on with giving feedback (written or verbal) to those children.

Alternative Response

This is the closest thing to traditional differentiation that we get - providing children with a modified activity but one which still helps them to achieve the same objective as the rest of the class.

To modify an activity, a few ideas:
  • provide children with an extra glossary or vocabulary list with meanings - this should be specific to the excerpt and pre-prepared by the teacher. If the focus of the lesson was on finding the meanings of words using contextual or morphemic analysis then you might not do this, instead you could focus on the meanings of easier words.
  • use a structure such as this one designed to help children for whom English is an additional language. It involves encouraging children to ask questions of the text, to summarise the text and to order main points of the text, answering true or false questions as well as answering questions about the text. It's important that the final outcome of the activity matches the whole class objective.
  • provide scaffolded structures for answers, for example: I know that the character is _______ because in the text it says _______________.
  • If the focus of the lesson is inference, create an activity that helps to scaffold children's inferences. This can be done by guiding children to consider vocabulary and information that can be retrieved before making inferences - more about this here in my blog post about Scaffolding Inference. Higher attainers may not need these structures as they will have a similar internal, subconscious approach.
In addition to having a modified activity they might also have a modified text - it could be a shorter excerpt of what has been read as a whole class, or it could be a modified version made easier in some way to help them achieve the whole class objective. Any of above modified activities could be used in conjunction with a modified text.

Modelled Answers


Even if children have all worked on exactly the same written response activity, with no support from adults or peers, they can be very well supported if answers to the questions they have been working on are modelled.

The key here is that once answers have been modelled, either by other children or the teacher, whether verbally or in writing, that children edit their existing answers to include the main points of the modelled answers. With a regular, consistent approach to this children will grow in their ability to give written answers to questions. This modelling may take place whole class or with group time.

Intervention

Whole class reading does not replace the need for intervention. Whilst whole class sessions can be focused on the children achieving a whole class objective, interventions can focus on children's individual and specific needs. 

It might be the case that assessment of achievement in whole class reading sessions decides the content of interventions, or that interventions are a continuation of the work done in whole class sessions. On the other hand the interventions could focus on something as basic as phonics (if this is the case, it will be important that in whole class sessions that they hear the text read aloud and that perhaps they are given a shorter or modified excerpt to work with independently).

This is part 1 of a blog series on meeting different needs in whole class reading; next up: Greater Depth in Whole Class Reading Sessions.

Monday, 11 September 2017

KS2 Maths SATs On Reflection: Why We Teach For Mastery In Maths

Here's one I wrote for Third Space Learning: https://www.thirdspacelearning.com/blog/2017/ks2-maths-sats-on-reflection-teaching-for-mastery

‘Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.’ - Margaret J. Wheatley

Perhaps that’s a little over the top, but there’s something in it. As a teacher it’s always worth reflecting on a year just gone, looking back at what went well and what might need changing for the next year. I spent the year as Maths and UKS2 lead whilst teaching in Year 6.

As such I have the privilege of being up to date with the changes taking place in primary education, especially with regards to the expected standards in assessment. Now that I’ve got a few weeks of holiday under my belt, my mind is a little fresher. It's on natural then, that I begin to look back upon KS2 Maths SATs 2017. Read on for my reflections on the end of July and the ever-present changes to how Maths is assessed in UK primary schools...

https://www.thirdspacelearning.com/blog/2017/ks2-maths-sats-on-reflection-teaching-for-mastery

Translating Research Into Practical Advice (Reflections On ResearchED)

At the weekend (sounds like a year 3 recount, I know) I went to my first researchED event - the national conference, which was held at Chobham Academy in some part of London or other where you can almost see the money pouring into it (but as a Northerner, that's a rant I'll avoid now). With a whole host of speakers it wasn't easy to pick which sessions to attend - a good proportion of the train journey down was spent poring over the workshop descriptions and in some slots I had up to 5 possible choices. There was a definite air of excitement as teachers and other professionals poured into the school's largest hall; it felt good to be part of something which, compared to other conferences I've attended, seemed so big.

Almost immediately I spotted the familiar face of Mark Enser, a wonderful teacher (I'm sure) and writer whose articles I always find myself nodding along to vehemently (in truth, he writes the stuff I most wish I'd written). It was great to meet him in person albeit briefly and I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time some other people who I had previously 'known' online: Dr Emma Kell (who may live to regret a subsequent proposal to co-present something one day), Justin Gray, Karen Wespieser and Kieran Dhunna Halliwell as well as a second time meeting with Martin Galway. Making those face-to-face connections was a real highlight although in each case I wish I'd had longer to chat, but it was always onto the next workshop.

Allow me to give you some of the context behind why I was so keen to attend researchED. My MAT recently won the bid to be one of the EEF's research schools as we are situated in one of the 'opportunity areas'. I will be working on the team to develop the research school's role in our area and, although I have recently attempted to be more evidence-informed in my approach, I felt this a good opportunity to sharpen my understanding and skills with regards to educational research.

The main role of the research school is actually to disseminate research to the schools and teachers in our area - a city where social mobility is low. Also, as leaders in a primary school, my colleagues and I had reflected that although lots of what we ask our staff do is evidence-based, they often don't know it as we have distilled the findings into practical steps for them to take - they are  teaching using evidence-informed methods without knowing it. This is something we'd like to change so that:

  • they become more autonomous in seeking research and using it themselves;
  • they know we aren't just plucking ideas out of nowhere;
  • they understand that when they are asked to do something it's because there's a good chance it'll work.
Because of all this I chose some sessions to help me begin to think about how to help teachers who have no knowledge of or interest in educational research to begin to take notice of its possible benefits. Dr Gary Jones led a session on being efficient when it comes to evidence-based practice and Nick Rose spoke on helping new teachers to use research in their teaching. Both speakers were incredibly knowledgeable and I found much of what they had to say to be very interesting but I struggled to come away with much down-to-earth, practical advice for how to help teachers to make their practice more evidence-based.

And that would be my overall observation of the day. Speakers presented knowledgeably but left me with very few concrete ideas as to what to do with the information. Now, I don't claim to be at all academically-minded in the way that many of the presenters are, but then, neither are many teachers - the ones who we'd like to use evidence or research to inform their teaching. Upon reflection, it is very clear that there is much work to be done to bridge the gap between research and classroom practice.

For example, Nick Rose discussed in great detail that which hinders new teachers (and other teachers) from reading research and using it to inform their teaching but in amongst that he mentioned that the best way is to use case studies. If that's the case, I'd have liked the session to focus on how to access case studies, how to write case studies, how to help teachers see the potential and limitations of being inspired by case studies. Dr Gary Jones provided a wide range of ideas but I would have benefited more from spending more time on just one or two of them.

Dr Gary Jones helpfully pointed out that research is only one of the strands which informs evidence-based practice and that data is one of the other pieces of evidence we have to help us make decisions about teaching. Mike Treadaway shared some fascinating national data on pupil premium children but again, there was very little suggestion as to how teachers might use this information to inform their teaching, only a suggestion that the funding formula needs changing - something none of us have a say in.

When blogging and writing articles I often get to the part where I've made my point, discussed the theory or presented the research (or finished my rant) and there I want to stop. But increasingly I've forced myself to go further to do the hard bit: provide some practical advice relating to the subject of the blog post or article. It's not easy and I suspect the ability to do it it relies on teacher expertise and experience, not just research. Much of the advice I've ever been given has not been borne out of research, but out of teachers' own experience. One point discussed in Rachel Lawrence's session on 'What should a research leader in education do?' was whether or not someone leading in research needs to be a teacher: the discussion seemed to conclude that they would be listened to better if they were a respected teacher who colleagues knew could walk the walk. Perhaps the divide between research and practical advice arises because those involved in research aren't always teachers, and vice versa? I can't be sure.

Having said that, I am aware that there are many resources out there which marry research with good practical advice. The EEF reports for example, and Dominic Salles' book 'The Slightly Awesome Teacher'. I also noticed that Robin Macpherson (whose session I didn't manage to get to) has a book in the pipeline called 'What Does This Look Like In The Classroom? Bridging The Gap Between Research And Practice' which does sound very promising. There are clearly also many books written on many subjects which seek to translate research into practical advice and it's this approach that more teachers would benefit from.

Martin Galway gave me food for thought when it comes to disseminating research by pointing out that often we don't read the original source of the research but instead read blog posts, news articles and meta-studies of the published research. Often we read secondary or tertiary accounts of the research and much can be lost in translation resulting in practice which doesn't do what it is supposed to do. This will be a real challenge for the research school and something that needs navigating carefully. Again, some practical information on how to do this would be really helpful - this may have happened  in some of the other seminars.

I managed to take in a wide variety of seminars, including a panel discussion, and whilst the short sessions meant that interest never dipped, it did mean that some presenters were pushed for time. It's totally out of the organisers' hands but it may have been more beneficial to narrow the focus of some sessions in order to get one point across well and include some time for questions and discussion. Again, this reflection is important for how the research school carries out any CPD - a honed down, precise objective needs to be stuck to when presenting crucial information about research and how it might impact on practice.

Now obviously I only attended a very small percentage of the available workshops and so my reflections may not be an accurate overall picture - I'm very aware of this. In fact, this blog post from Jessica Fear just goes to show that some will have left the researchED brimming with practical advice to follow. Hopefully it's clear that I've framed my thoughts by thinking not about how researchED might change (I'm under no illusions - I don't have that influence) but by thinking about how my limited experiences at the conference will form how I think about how to engage teachers in the use of research over the coming year.

To finish, I would reiterate that the conference gave me much to think through and made me aware of research that has already taken place, research techniques that I knew nothing of before  and gave me a better overall idea about the world of educational research. There are things that I will go on to explore further and there are other seemingly small titbits of information that will actually hugely influence my own practice once I've spent more time thinking through how to apply them practically.

Would I recommend a researchED event? Yes, to anyone. I'd say go with an open mind, even if you think research isn't the be all and end all. After all, Tom Bennett himself in his opening speech reminded us all that "the craft of teaching is enormously important" and Nick Rose made it clear that "evidence-based practice is not a recipe to dictate what a teacher does, nor is it to undermine professional judgement, rather it is to inform and refine it".

researchED links:

Livestreams: https://livestream.com/L4L/rED17?t=1504937237924
Mike Treadaway's blog series for Education Data Lab exploring long-term disadvantage: http://educationdatalab.org.uk/tag/long-term-disadvantage/

Sunday, 27 August 2017

It's Just An Emoji! Bah Humbug.

Or is it? This won't be the first time I get called a humourless something-or-other: I've written terribly mirthless things before which reveal my sub-humanness and my inability to take a 'joke'. I won't even try to defend myself as someone who loves a good laugh and a joke - you wouldn't believe me anyway if you've already got me pegged.

I'm not outraged at this emoji - if you can believe me, I'm not. I just see it as part of a bigger issue, and that bigger issue does do something to me - perhaps I am outraged by the bigger picture I perceive this to be part of.

Education doesn't exactly receive good press. The big stories are usually the negative ones. Most government reforms - and they do seem to come with regularity - imply that education is not at its best. Plenty of teachers, for many differing reasons (some justified) don't have much good to say about the profession either. The public perception of teachers and the state of education isn't great at the moment. At least that's the way I see it.

This makes education a fragile thing. And all but the most outrageous comedians would pull their punches when it comes to fragile subjects for jokes. Except perhaps when that fragile thing is a what, not a who.

All I'm suggesting is that any unnecessary negativity aimed at education might be avoided. One emoji in one chain of high street shops is not exactly the death knell, but it has the potential to play its part.

In criminology, the broken window theory says that when smaller crimes are dealt with fewer major crimes will occur. And whilst it's not a crime to make jokes about how terrible going back to school is, it might just be one more little nail in the coffin. I know, I know that I sound like a real party pooper here - maybe I am spoiling all the seconds of hilarity this emoji no doubt generates. But I love my job, and I value education and I wonder if we could do better.

In times when many of us are worried about the mental health of both our students and our teachers, I can't help but question how a teacher or student who has genuinely cried over the thought of going back to school might feel when seeing this. Is the anxiety caused by the thought of returning to school really something to be made fun of? There will, as some have thoughtfully pointed out this week, be teachers who are experiencing genuine stress and depression at the thought of their return to work - that's not something I'd want to belittle. Perhaps it is just an emoji and that it isn't potentially degrading and corrosive at all.

There is clearly genuine psychological power in advertising - subliminal messages are all around us and are designed by experts to change the way we think. This one, I'm sure, was just designed to make us laugh and its possible undertones are unintended - I get that - but as part of a much bigger picture, where education is painted as ugly, it's something that I'm sure we wouldn't miss. 

I don't expect to change minds on this one - we all view things in different ways. My particular outlook is to build up and be positive about education where possible, even on the small things, because I believe even they can make a difference. Yes, this sounds all virtuous and holier-than-thou (maybe this should have been left unsaid) but I'd prefer it if my team of teachers and our children were coming back to school happily come September, not with a sense of foreboding or with tears streaming down their faces.

Obviously, they won't - but that'll only be because they're coming back to an awful, humourless teacher and leader who just can't take a joke and removes all the fun from learning.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Independent Reading With My Children

I often try to catch my children unawares in order to film them carrying out their day-to-day activities without the inevitable showiness that occurs once they know the camera's on them. This holiday we have instituted 'reading time' before bed - a perfect opportunity to sneak up on the children and catch them going about their business in a natural way. Before filming this I had checked that all three girls were busy reading on their beds, but when I actually came to video them, other things happened:


First of all, my eldest (who has just turned 7 and will be entering year 3 in September), got up as soon as I entered the room. But this was not because I had come in, it was because the Mr. Men book she was reading (Mr. Mischief) had told her to get up and look out of the window! She engaging with the text so much that it prompted her to respond physically. As I had intended to film them without their knowing, I didn't interact verbally with her when she explained what she was doing - I later broke this vow of silence.

Then, as I entered the room of the younger two children, the youngest (aged 3, about to begin a second year in Nursery) noticed me and broke off from her activity. Prior to my arrival she had been reading the very well known 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea' by Judith Kerr. For her, reading means orally retelling the story - this is a book she is very familiar with. She proceeds to exhibit that showy behaviour I mentioned before by showing the camera the book she had been engrossed in - again, I elect not to respond verbally (although I can assure you, I communicate very well with my face, and I did so at this time).

Upon my entrance, my middle daughter (aged 5, and due to start in Year 1) was in the process of climbing from the top bunk to get a new book, having just finished one (which she had thrown on the floor - some work needed on the treatment of books!). She immediately requested that I take a picture of her - that showiness again - but fairly readily engaged in a brief conversation about what she was doing (my plan to surreptitiously film them now aborted, I elected to speak to her). Despite forgetting which book she'd just read (laziness I think - she couldn't be bothered to even try to remember) she was able, once prompted, to talk about why she liked the book she'd just read - 'Mr. Seahorse' by Eric Carle. Normally, this would have evolved into a longer conversation, but I was conscious both of the video length, and her desire to get on and read another book.

This little episode has had me reflecting on the reading habits of my children, and what they might teach us about young children and reading in general. Let's take each of my daughters in turn:

Daughter #1 (aged 7): This holiday she has read a real range of books. Not averse to longer 'chapter books' (she has read things like Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley, Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree books, Dick King Smith's Sophie books and some of the Flat Stanley series by Jeff Brown, amongst others) she has actually spent more time reading shorter picture books and non-fiction books. She has particularly liked the Kingfisher 'I Wonder Why' books, 'What I Believe' by Alan Brown and Andrew Langley (published by Ted Smart and well known by primary teachers) and 'The Usborne Children's Encyclopedia'. This thirst for general knowledge does not surprise me - whilst watching an episode of Blue Planet together (watching nature documentaries is one of our daddy/daughters activities) she already knew lots about the featured animals as she had 'read about them in a book'. She has also partaken enthusiastically in a Mr. Men/Little Miss craze (as seen in the video) that started with a charity shop haul of Roger Hargreaves' comical little books.
  • It is generally thought that children, particularly girls, are less likely to read non-fiction texts - perhaps this is untrue, and perhaps we need to ensure they have better access to these books, and that we look for opportunities to encourage the reading of non-fiction books when the desire is there?
  • We should allow children to follow their preferences when it comes to reading at home - they don't always have to be engaging in reading long books bit by bit because other types of reading can be just as valuable.
Daughter #2 (aged 5): This time last year she was probably annoyed that she couldn't yet read sufficiently enough to read alone - now she can read almost anything without hesitation, and always with excellent intonation - a big thank you to her excellent reception teacher! Once she starts reading, or being read to, she feasts on books, but she doesn't always elect to read at times when she could. However, once she gets started (usually at bedtime) it is very hard to get her to stop! She has especially enjoyed the Mr. Men and Little Miss books (these have been a boon on car journeys as we can stuff tons of them in the pouch on the back of the car seats) and they have brought her independent reading freedom. She has also particularly liked reading family favourite picture books, as well as some new ones such as 'Oi Dog!' as she really enjoys rhyming texts and poetry, and often learns large sections by heart - 'Toddle Waddle' by Julia Donaldson was one of the first books she could 'read' by memorising it. Most of her choices this summer have been fiction books, unlike my eldest daughter.
  • Having just observed Daughter #2 reading over her breakfast, I am prompted to ponder how we can encourage children to read of their own accord - I might've been tempted to stop her reading whilst trying to eat a bowl of cereal, but perhaps it is worth allowing her to just get on and read when she wants to? Just as we allow children to follow their preferences when it comes to book choice, maybe we need to think more about how we can allow children to read when and where they want.
  • For younger children it is worth having a good idea of the types of text they enjoy - this helps with borrowing and buying new books for them. The question is, can this knowledge help us to search out books from other genres that might appeal?
Daughter #3 (aged 3): After a year in nursery she can read and spell CVC words, and some CCVC words with initial blends such as 'sh'. As mentioned before, her mode of reading is orally retelling stories that she knows well - her favourite for this during the holidays has definitely been perennial favourite 'The Hungry Little Caterpillar' by Eric Carle. Although she does like the occasional new book, she is much more likely to choose a book that is well known to her, for example, during a week away, she wanted 'Zog' by Julia Donaldson to be read to her on three separate occasions (we acquiesced). Most of the Julia Donaldson books that we own fall into this category of 'books to read and read again' - daughter #3 is also very fond of rhyming, as are most children of her age.
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition - even if it gets a bit monotonous as an adult! Daughter #3 can 'read' by telling the stories in her own words, using the pictures to guide her - this is a real skill and is not to be looked down on! She can do this because she returns again and again, both with adults and on her own, to high quality and age-appropriate texts. An EYFS classroom should reflect this - it may only need a handful of carefully curated books with a focus on high quality not quantity.
Although my children have been reading for pleasure this holiday, they have no doubt learned things - new words, new facts, new stories, new ideas - and they've certainly given me some food for thought. I wonder, if you're a parent, have you made any observations of your children reading that have got you thinking about how you teach and encourage reading?

And to finish, my youngest daughter orally retelling 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar':