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From Good to Outstanding in English. Geoff Barton Download free at (Presentation number 60). What. How. + G&T + Grammar + Functional skills + Starters + 5*A-C(EM) + ???. Where have we come from? Where are we now? Where are we going?.

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from good to outstanding in english

From Good to Outstanding in English

Geoff Barton

Download free at

(Presentation number60)





+ G&T

+ Grammar

+ Functional skills

+ Starters

+ 5*A-C(EM)

+ ???


Where have we come from?

  • Where are we now?
  • Where are we going?

Parse the italicised words:

    • “The lady protests too much, methinks”
    • “Sit thee down”
    • “I saw him taken”
  • Rewrite these sentences correctly:
    • “Louis was in some respects a good man, but being a bad ruler his subjects rebelled”
    • “Vainly endeavouring to suppress his emotion, the service was abruptly brought to an end”

Alfred S West, The Elements of English Grammar


For each of the following write a sentence containing the word or clause indicated:

That used as a subordinating conjunction

That used as a relative pronoun

An adjective used in the comparative degree

A pronoun used as a direct object

An adverbial clause of concession

A noun clause in apposition

A collective noun

JMB O-level English Language, 1967








Performance tables




Next …?

  • Primacy of subject knowledge?
  • Mix of freedom and conscription?
  • IGCSE?
  • Increased emphasis on cultural heritage: “the best that has been thought and said”?

Subject Reviews 2005 & 2009

“English at the Crossroads”


English 2005:

  • Myhill and Fisher: ‘spoken language forms a constraint, a ceiling not only on the ability to comprehend but also on the ability to write, beyond which literacy cannot progress’.


  • Although the reading skills of 10 year old pupils in England compared well with those of pupils in other countries, they read less frequently for pleasure and were less interested in reading than those elsewhere.



  • Pupils’ writing does not improve solely by doing more of it.

English 2009:

  • All the English departments visited had schemes of work for KS3 but, since they rarely showed them to the students, students could not see how individual elements linked together and supported each other.
  • To many students, the KS3 programme seemed a random sequence of activities …



English 2009:

  • Some schools persevered with ‘library lessons’ where the students read silently. These sessions rarely included time to discuss or promote books and other written material and therefore did not help to develop a reading community within the school.



English 2009:

  • Many of the lessons seen during the survey showed there was a clear need to reinvigorate the teaching of writing. Students were not motivated by the writing tasks they were given and saw no real purpose to them.



English 2009:

  • Ofsted’s previous report on English found that schools put too little emphasis on developing speaking and listening. Since then, the teaching of speaking and listening has improved.



English 2009:

  • The last English report identified a wide gap between the best practice and the rest in using ICT. This gap remains; indeed, some of the evidence suggests that it has widened.



Whole-school literacy:

Every teacher in English …

Teach reading, not FOFO …

Demystify spelling …

Model writing …

Emphasise quality talk …

implications for you

S&L: Does it happen systematically anywhere to develop thinking and to model writing?

Implications for you …?

Writing: is there an understanding across any teams of how to develop writing - eg how to get better evaluations, better essays, better scientific writing?

Reading: Who is teaching reading? Has reading for pleasure slipped from your radar?

Leadership: Has your leadership team lost interest in whole-school literacy? How will you reignite interest?


What we know about Writing …

  • The standard of writing has improved in recent years but still lags 20% behind reading at all key stages (eg around 60% of students get level 4 at KS2 in writing, compared to 80% in reading).
  • Writing has improved as a result of the National Strategy.
  • S&L has a big role in writing - it allows students to rehearse ideas and structures and builds confidence.
  • But S&L has lower status because of assessment weightings.
  • In teaching writing we tend to focus too much on end-products rather than process (eg frames). We should think more about composition - how ideas are found and framed, how choices are made, how to decide about the medium, how to draft and edit.
  • We are still stuck with a narrow range of writing forms and need to emphasise creativity in non-fiction forms.
  • We need to rediscover the excitement of writing.

With thanks to Professor Richard Andrews, London Institute


What we know about vocabulary …

  • Aged 7: children in the top quartile have 7100 words; children in the lowest have around 3000. The main influence in parents.
  • Using and explaining high-level words is a key to expanding vocabulary. A low vocabulary has a negative effect throughout schooling.
  • Declining reading comprehension from 8 onwards is largely a result of low vocabulary. Vocabulary aged 6 accounts for 30% of reading variance aged 16.
  • Catching up becomes very difficult. Children with low vocabularies would have to learn faster than their peers (4-5 roots words a day) to catch up within 5-6 years.
  • Vocabulary is built via reading to children, getting children to read themselves, engaging in rich oral language, encouraging reading and talking at home
  • In the classroom it involves: defining and explaining word meanings, arranging frequent encounters with new words in different contexts, creating a word-rich environment, addressing vocabulary learning explicitly, selecting appropriate words for systematic instruction/reinforcement, teaching word-learning strategies

With thanks to DCSF Research Unit


What we know about students who make slow progress …

Characteristics: 2/3 boys. Generally well-behaved. Positive in outlook. “Invisible” to teachers. Keen to respond but unlikely to think first. Persevere with tasks, especially with tasks that are routine. Lack self-help strategies. Stoical, patient, resigned.

Reading: they over-rely on a limited range of strategies and lack higher order reading skills

Writing: struggle to combine different skills simultaneously. Don’t get much chance for oral rehearsal, guided writing, precise feedback

S&L: don’t see it as a key tool in thinking and writing

Targets: set low-level targets; overstate functional skills; infrequently review progress

With thanks to DCFS


The Matthew Effect

(Robert K Merton)


“For whosoever hath, to him shall be given and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath”.

Matthew 13:12


“the word-rich get richer while the word-poor get poorer” in their reading skills



“While good readers gain new skills very rapidly, and quickly move from learning to read to reading to learn, poor readers become increasingly frustrated with the act of reading, and try to avoid reading where possible”

(SEDL 2001)


“Students who begin with high verbal aptitudes and find themselves in verbally enriched social environments are at a double advantage.”

The Matthew Effect

Daniel Rigney


Poor readers more likely to drop out of school and less likely to find rewarding employment … “good readers may choose friends who also read avidly while poor readers seek friends with whom they share other enjoyments”

The Matthew Effect

Daniel Rigney


Stricht’s Law: “reading ability in children cannot exceed their listening ability …”

E.D. Hirsch

The Schools We Need


“Spoken language forms a constraint, a ceiling not only on the ability to comprehend but also on the ability to write, beyond which literacy cannot progress”

Myhill and Fisher


“The children who possess intellectual capital when they first arrive at school have the mental scaffolding and Velcro to catch hold of what is going on, and they can turn the new knowledge into still more Velcro to gain still more knowledge”.

E.D. Hirsch

The Schools We Need


Aged 7:

Children in the top quartile have 7100 words; children in the lowest have around 3000.

The main influence is parents.

DCSF Research Unit


The Matthew Effect:

The rich will get richer &

the poor will get poorer


Key conventions

Demonstrate writing.

Link to speech

Teach composition

Importance of reading

Sentence variety



Know your connectives

Adding: and, also, as well as, moreover, too

Cause & effect: because, so, therefore, thus, consequently

Sequencing: next, then, first, finally, meanwhile, before, after

Qualifying: however, although, unless, except, if, as long as, apart from, yet

Emphasising: above all, in particular, especially, significantly, indeed, notably

Illustrating: for example, such as, for instance, as revealed by, in the case of

Comparing: equally, in the same way, similarly, likewise, as with, like

Contrasting: whereas, instead of, alternatively, otherwise, unlike, on the other hand


Reading needs teaching: skimming, scanning, analysis

Read aloud.

Demystify spelling

Use DARTs: prediction, jumbled texts, pictures and graphs

Teach and display subject-specific vocabulary

Teach research skills, not FOFO

Presentation and framing can make texts more accessible


No hands up

Break tyranny of Q&A

Thinking time

Key words / connectives

Reflective groupings

Rehearsing responses

Get teachers watching teachers who manage S&L well


Post-SATs challenge

Improvement happens in the classroom.

Consistency is an equal opportunities issue

Integration plus explicit skills

Make being G&T sexy

Remember the “disappeared”

Make Assessment for Learning happen

Use student feedback

from good to outstanding in english1

From Good to Outstanding in English

Geoff Barton

Download free at

(Presentation number60)


English Teacher

Petite, white-haired Miss Cartwright

Knew Shakespeare off by heart,

Or so we pupils thought.

Once in the stalls at the Old Vic

She prompted Lear when he forgot his part.

Ignorant of Scrutiny and Leavis,

She taught Romantic poetry,

Dreamt of gossip with dead poets.

To an amazed sixth form once said:‘How good to spend a night with Shelley.’

In long war years she fed us plays,

Sophocles to Shaw’s St Joan.

Her reading nights we named our Courting Club,

Yet always through the blacked-out streets

One boy left the girls and saw her home.

When she closed her eyes and chanted

‘Ode to a Nightingale’

We laughed yet honoured her devotion.

We knew the man she should have married

Was killed at Passchendaele.

Brian Cox

From Collected Poems, Carcanet Press 1993.

And finally …

from good to outstanding in english2

From Good to Outstanding in English

Geoff Barton

Download free at

(Presentation number60)