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Is there a hidden writing downside in secondary colleges?

Are pupils new to secondary college this 12 months ready for the challenges of educational writing?

After a few phrases of secondary college, it turns into clearer whether or not pupils are attending to grips with the educational calls for. As they write narratives in English, essays in historical past, notes in science, or annotate in artwork, pupils are anticipated to rapidly assimilate a bunch of topic particular writing strikes.

In actuality, most academics of artwork, science, historical past, geography and so forth. are busy educating the curriculum, with writing proving one thing of a method to an finish. We could count on normal of accuracy – with some proof-reading right here and there – however it could be commonplace to count on all 12 months 7 pupils to ‘write to be taught’ every day with little specific assist.

Writing aids considering. If pupils can not write fluently, mechanically, clearly and cogently, then their considering slows. Consequently, the burden on working reminiscence for tough new studying will get increased; each topic proves tougher. That’s earlier than you contemplate the implications for timed exams and comparable.

Houston, we could have an issue.

Has the pandemic irrevocably broken pupils’ writing growth?

Numerous 12 months 7 pupils are unlikely to have automated the important thing abilities of educational writing. Their progress was clearly hampered by the worldwide pandemic that crashed its means by way of the center of their key stage 2 educating.

The damaging affect of the pandemic is evident for the brand new 12 months 7 cohort at the moment in secondary college if we glance again to their nationwide assessments final 12 months. If we evaluate nationwide writing outcomes from 2019 to final 12 months, it reveals that solely 69% of pupils met the anticipated normal in writing, down from 78% in 2019. *1

Not like studying, writing doesn’t have a typical battery of assessments which are utilized in secondary colleges. In most colleges, 12 months 7 is a time to determine standardised studying scores, studying ages, cognitive capability assessments and extra, however writing is routinely absent from the evaluation regime when in comparison with assessing studying gaps.

Consequently, there could also be a writing downside in secondary colleges that’s largely going undiagnosed and unaddressed.

Are pupils writing extra precisely than they had been in 12 months 6? Has their spelling improved? Are they utilizing a wider repertoire of educational vocabulary crucial for the ‘disciplinary writing’ in science and comparable? Are they utilizing well-crafted sentence buildings to precise mature concepts? Have they developed upon their capability to craft well-structured arguments? Are paragraphs coherent and effectively organised?

I consider my very own son, whose writing growth nonetheless wants specific assist, however who’s now having to navigate an enormous curriculum throughout a spread of academics who’re unlikely to be skilled within the specific educating and assist that’s required.

The problem for secondary colleges is that many of those points are near-hidden from view. It may possibly result in a collection of small losses that affect on studying in cumulative vogue. When writing notes primarily based on a proof in geography, pupils may be utilizing up their valuable working reminiscence bandwidth and spelling corrections, composing clear sentences, and repeatedly studying again by way of their writing to make sure it is sensible.

There is no such thing as a silver bullet answer right here. There is no such thing as a weblog, ‘5 high ideas’, or e book, that solves all this in a simple share. A recognition by disruption wrought by the pandemic is ongoing and cumulative is critical – however resource-poor center leaders want ample assist in response. We’d like higher diagnostic evaluation of writing to grasp whether or not there’s a hidden downside, or whether or not our pupils have defied expectations and key stage 2 assessments in report time.

First, we have to start exploring and assessing the potential of a hidden writing downside holding again pupils in secondary college. It might be a diagnostic deal with handwriting, spelling, the constructing blocks of writing sentences, modelling, learn how to write higher in particular topics. Put merely, for pupils who’re struggling to write down, it is not going to be sufficient to plough on by way of the deliberate key stage 3 curriculum.

*1 Moreover, grammar, punctuation and spelling outcomes had been additionally down from 78% to 72% in the identical timespan which can reveal associated points[1]. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that labelling grammar in sentences for the check is an correct indicator, or assist, for bettering pupils’ personal writing.

See my assets web page totally free ‘Closing the Writing Hole’ instruments – HERE.