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Take One Book: Christmas Special!

It might feel a little early still, but Penny Slater has some – somewhat untypical – “festive” ideas based on ‘The Santa Trap’ by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene. We wanted to give sufficient notice in case you decide that you would like to invest in this darkly charming book. 

Christmas is coming, and it is time to dig out the usual array of Christmassy texts to inspire a seasonal unit of reading and writing.

If it is a charming, heart-warming and whimsical Christmas tale that you are after, you may have come to the wrong blog!

This year, we urge you to try something a bit different: something a bit edgier; a bit darker….

Our recommendation for a fresh and feisty festive treat is ‘The Santa Trap’ by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene.

Welcome Bradley Bartleby…

Conf 1

Everything that you need to know about this charmless character is conveyed on the first double-page spread:

‘Bradley Bartleby was bad.

He’d been born bad….

And the older Bradley got, the badder he became.’

The tale goes on to outline Bradley’s rapid descent from spoilt child to revenge-seeking Santa hunter!

Beyond its obvious anarchic appeal, this text provides so many opportunities for children to improve their writing skills. In the resource linked here – Santa Trap Planning Ideas  – you will find our suggestions for how this text could be used creatively to develop children’s writing skills in line with the Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation Programme of Study for each year group.

santa trap final

We hope that this fun and feisty text will help to spread a little Christmas cheer throughout your classroom this year. The question is: who will be brave enough to present each of their children with a lovely end of term Christmas gift this year?

A nice new pair of socks should do it!

Jonathan Emmett will be joining us for our spring writing conference: Write Here, Write Now.

Please join us if you can to discover more of Jonathan’s great texts, and to hear his thoughts about how to inspire young readers and writers.

Click on the link below to book your place at the conference:

17ENG/076P Write Here, Right Now – HfL Annual Primary English Conference BOOK 25 Jan 2018


Find out more about Jonathan and his work here:

With special thanks to Poly Bernatene for giving permission to use his images in this blog. Explore more of Poly’s work here:


A field guide to great writing

Jane Andrews shares some inspiring and interesting writing from Purwell School  in this blog.

Continue reading “A field guide to great writing”

Celebrating Freedom with National Poetry Day

In this short blog, Michelle Nicholson presents some ideas to do with your class on National Poetry Day, which takes the theme of ‘freedom’ this year.

Continue reading “Celebrating Freedom with National Poetry Day”

Primary writing ITAFs: what’s new; what’s changed; what’s gone.

Another new school year, another assessment framework – but just how different is it? Kirsten Snook succinctly maps where things have gone, stayed the same or been subtly changed, following the government’s consultation with schools. Click on the links for an extremely helpful shortcut to an outline of  the new expectations.

Continue reading “Primary writing ITAFs: what’s new; what’s changed; what’s gone.”

Celebrating Primary Writing: Take One Book…and run with it.

Martin Galway shares some of the wonderful work carried out by the pupils and staff at Hare Street Primary School, Harlow, inspired by the Take One Book training and approaches offered by the HfL English team.

Continue reading “Celebrating Primary Writing: Take One Book…and run with it.”

Come aboard the Hogwarts Express!

Monday 26th June 2017 marks twenty years since the first publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  In this blog, Michelle Nicholson celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the release of JK Rowling’s fabulous book, with some ideas for bringing the story to life in the classroom.

Continue reading “Come aboard the Hogwarts Express!”

Year 6 Writing – in Search of GDS: verb forms – the key to control.

Martin Galway completes his series of blogs on the Greater Depth writing standard for year 6 writing and makes good on his earlier promise to return to the subject of “Selecting verb forms for meaning and effect”.

Continue reading “Year 6 Writing – in Search of GDS: verb forms – the key to control.”

Shifts in Formality: now, that’s the way you do it!

Penny Slater serves up a postscript to her earlier blog on modelling shifts in formality.

You may recall my blog from February 2016 (A Model of Formality) when I offered a lesson/resource suggestion based on securing shifts in formality. It was a phrase that back then, we were just beginning to get our heads around. Now, thanks to the collective endeavour of the teaching profession (those teachers and advisors who have had to work tirelessly to interpret the sometimes  obscure meaning of some of the ITAF statements, such as my colleague has done here, here and here), I think that we all feel a little more comfortable with what a ‘shift’ looks like.

Continue reading “Shifts in Formality: now, that’s the way you do it!”

Year 6 Writing – in search of GDS part 3: a farewell to shifts of formality.

Martin Galway wraps up his short series of blogs on  managed shifts of formality as required to award ‘Working at Greater Depth (GDS) within the expected standard’  under the Interim Teacher Assessment Framework (ITAF) for writing. 

Continue reading “Year 6 Writing – in search of GDS part 3: a farewell to shifts of formality.”

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