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KS1 writing:  What a wonderful sentence that is!

Michelle Nicholson offers some timely advice on writing in KS1.

This blog aims to unpick the STA guidance around bullet points one and two of the KS1 ITAFs for children writing at the expected standard or at greater depth within the standard.

Continue reading “KS1 writing:  What a wonderful sentence that is!”

Year 5: Making the Last Term Count

Calling all Year 5 teachers! Louise Racher sets out what your pupils need to secure this term in readiness for their final year at primary.  

Yes, the summer term is fast approaching. Year 5 are pulling up their socks, straightening their ties and getting ready to oust the current Year 6 pupils from their top spot.  Year 6, this final year of primary school, or the end of Key Stage for those in middle schools.  Along with Year 6 comes the end of Key Stage assessments which the school will be accountable for, whether they are good, bad or ugly.  Continue reading “Year 5: Making the Last Term Count”

Flexing Fluency Muscles with Great Texts (Oh…and they are free too!)

In this short blog, Penny Slater points to some texts that may prove useful in the last few weeks leading up to this year’s SATS.

Let’s cut to the chase…It’s early summer term. You are a Y6 teacher. You have a couple of weeks left before the 2017 Reading SATs paper. What you are probably looking for are some great texts that will give your pupils a final push to prepare for the challenge ahead? Oh…and you probably need those texts to be free and easily accessible. If so, read on….

Continue reading “Flexing Fluency Muscles with Great Texts (Oh…and they are free too!)”

Assessment without Tears? Pupil progression in KS2 Languages.

It’s been a busy term for the Herts for Languages team.  We were invited to give a talk at the Association of Language Learning’s annual Language World conference in Nottingham at the end of March.  The theme for the 2017 conference was Progress for All and the issue of progression has been at the heart of much of this term’s work in primary languages.

Since primary languages became statutory in September 2014, we have developed a KS2 Languages Progression and Assessment model.  This has been designed to work alongside the ‘new approach to tracking pupil progress’ developed by Herts for Learning (so that it would feel familiar to teachers using this model in other curriculum areas) but also to work as a ‘standalone’ resource for tracking progression in languages across the key stage.  It also cross-references the Primary Languages Quality Mark  criteria for ‘achievement, assessment and recording’.

This September will see the start of year four of statutory primary languages for those children who entered Year 3 in 2014.  As we enter year four, the question of what ‘substantial progress’ might look like (referenced in the Languages programme of study for KS2) is becoming increasingly important, as is how this might be evidenced.  The creative latitude offered by the programme of study, and of ‘life after levels’, allows a certain amount of freedom to schools in their approaches to the teaching of primary languages and issues such as assessment.  This new landscape for languages has allowed us to start to look at new and interesting ways to assess.  We have a long tradition of supporting informal classroom-based action research, through our practitioner-led Strategic Learning Networks for Languages supported by Herts for Learning, and so we decided to launch a small research project on assessment at KS2 called Assessment without Tears.

Our project is essentially about helping primary language teachers to assess more easily and flexibly, in a way that enhances curriculum and pedagogy and that fosters a life-long love and learning of a language among pupils.  The main focus of our research has been finding ways to facilitate and aggregate regular formative assessment to track pupil progression.  The question of whether this is a more valid and accurate way of assessing progress in language learning (compared to a summative test model which may prioritise certain topic vocabulary at the expense of others or neglect the development of certain language skills) is one that we think is worth exploring.

At our mid-way point in the project, we are seeing schools re-evaluating the content of their teaching and placing greater emphasis on high-frequency, highly transferable language and language structures rather than ‘topic’ vocabulary.  We are also seeing more emphasis on the development of certain language skills, such as reading and listening strategies, dictionary skills and communication repair strategies.  These are all highly transferable skills that will facilitate transition to KS3, even where a change of language occurs.  Later this term, we will be delivering an ‘Assessment without Tears for KS2 Languages’ training course (click here to book on).  We will also be delivering a new training course based on the Primary Languages Quality Mark which will provide practical pointers for teaching grammar, phonics and more in KS2 (book here).  Finally, in June we launch our new STEAM conference linking STEM, Arts and Languages in which we will showcase some of the work of our Strategic Learning Networks and our ‘Language Experiment’ project.  All courses and conferences can be booked via Herts for Learning online booking.

We will be back soon with an update on our work in secondary languages.

With best wishes for a relaxing break!

Jackie Rayment

Herts for Learning Languages Adviser


Summer 2017 Newsletter – bumper spoken language special

The Herts for Learning Primary English team have put together a packed newsletter for summer.  This issue takes spoken language – receptive and expressive – as its focus.   As you can see from the contents below, there is something for everyone here. We would love to hear from you, whether it be to give feedback relating to this newsletter, or to share some of the work that you do in this vitally important area that sits at the heart of all learning.  So download the english newsletter summer 2017 here.

Read and enjoy.  Share it at work. Share it online.  And have a lovely break.

Continue reading “Summer 2017 Newsletter – bumper spoken language special”

Guided reading – whole class or guided groups?

In this blog, Alison Dawkins takes a look at the ways in which guided reading is organised and shares some reflections on the benefits of guiding reading in groups.  To explore some earlier ideas from Alison in relation to streamlining the more traditional reading carousel,  you may want to read Guided Reading – Where next? 

Both in and out of school at the moment, I’m meeting increasing numbers of people talking about trying ‘whole class guided reading’ in KS2. They mention the children’s enthusiasm, the opportunity to engage with a whole text, the deepened questioning, and the release from the burden of planning a range of ‘activities’.

Continue reading “Guided reading – whole class or guided groups?”

The power of a good book – leading the way to successful grammar teaching.

In this blog, Kathy Roe looks at the invaluable role that high quality texts can play in supporting children’s knowledge and understanding of grammar. 

Continue reading “The power of a good book – leading the way to successful grammar teaching.”

Modelling early literacy

Kirsten Snook is a Teaching and Learning Adviser for English at Herts for Learning

We tend to think that children are intrinsically motivated to write much later than they are to read. But why? It has, however, been suggested that very young children are more motivated by a shared writing episode than a shared reading one, due to an emerging sense of self and place in the world.

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Year 6 Writing – in search of GDS pt 1: Shifts in formality

Martin Galway is a Teaching and Learning Adviser for English at Herts for Learning

On Friday of last week, the STA released a video that sought to address “particular areas of concern” around the assessment and moderation of year 6 writing.  The video covers a number of areas and opens with some commentary around the statements relating to Working at Greater Depth within the expected standard (GDS).

Continue reading “Year 6 Writing – in search of GDS pt 1: Shifts in formality”

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