It’s in our hands

I had a chance to speak to some early years teachers today.  They were discussing children’s writing and had a variety of samples out on their desks.  As ever, the range of ability in a single class can be immense but I was particularly interested in the two jotters.

These jotters beloged to two boys could not write but who could dictate a story to a scribe who wrote their story down. The quality of the stories was very good and matched almost everybody else in the class. Yet when we discussed how these boys might progress over the next few years there was general concensus that they will struggle to reach Level A (equivalent of a P3 child) by the time they leave primary school.

It’s not that these children are not bright enough to learn to write it’s seemingly down to the fact that that they can’t (or don’t want to) master the technical elements of holding a pen and practising their writing skills. It’s in considering such a question that the true potential of A Curriculum for Exellence starts to become obvious.  

As our Curriculum for Excellence strategy  proposes – the answer lies in the hands of teachers and schools to consider how we use the flexibility now afforded to us to ensure that no child – aside from those with severe and complex needs leaves primary school without the skills necessary to be “learners”.

I’m not trying to play down the challenge facing us here – nor the complexity of the problem, but at the very least we now have a chance clear the ground to at least see a possible way forwards.


6 thoughts on “It’s in our hands

  1. I agree absolutely.

    An important question we face is how to use the time within school most effectively. At what point do we decide that a child needs to focus more on the things s/he can do (talking, listening, graphic representation, etc.) than slog away at those s/he has supreme difficulty with (reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, etc.)?
    Or more simply, when do we do less training in the skills of a medieval clerk and more educating our youngsters (all of them not just those who struggle) for the 21st century?!

  2. I could not agree with Hilery more !!

    I blogged about this only today …

    The skill of writing is in the mind. How it manifests itself as a communication to others is a different issue and there are many ways of solving that. We do not now need to rely on the skill of ‘hand writing’ in its traditional form. We have the technology now to be creative … time we began to use it.

  3. I suspect that you don’t have to work very hard to convince anyone reading your blog Don. It’s parents you need to try to reach and convince!

  4. If Don were to climb into his time machine and travel back almost 50 years to my primary school, he’d find that my jotter was full of difficult to read scribblings too (I still have some!).

    I now know that it wasn’t an unwillingness to learn, as 2 years ago I discovered that I am dysgraphic and mildly dyslexic. I’m surprised that you haven’t considered dysgraphia as a possible explanation for the writing in the 2 jotters you observed.

    Fortunately it didn’t prevent my success through to tertiary education, twice, nor my professional career but I do wonder at what might have been, if the condition had been recognised and today’s technology had been applied.

    Sadly I appeared to have passed this on to my younger son who is dyslexic. He’s just entered primary 7 but has only a level A for writing. We know he has a high IQ from his dyslexia report that we obtained some years ago but we are very worried that when he transfers to high school he will have great difficulty.

    We do feel that the school system (so far) has failed him. Not because of any lack of commitment from the schools but most likely from a lack of resources. Our school system seems to be a good way behind the curve compared with the private schools, who by comparison, seem to pour resources onto their dyslexic pupils.

    Unfortunately the Curriculum for Exellence will come too late for my son.

  5. If the only hindrance to a child attaining a level commensurate with her/his ability is technical skill (whether spelling or handwriting), then teachers are at liberty to award that appropriate level as long as a note of the support given is made for future teachers.
    Sometimes training in planning and organisation is necessary; as well as practice in dictating (to a person or a digital voice recorder).
    It’s not too late.

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