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The case for a
National Writing
Project
Richard Andrews
Contents
1   The problem
2   A National Writing Project for teachers is one solution
3   What would it look like in the UK?
4   Proposals for a pilot
5   How would we fund it?
6   Its potential significance




3
The problem
Writing has lagged behind reading performance by an average of 20% over the
last 10-11 years; 80%+ attain required levels in reading at 11 – only two-thirds in
writing
• Recent improvement at 11-14, but a persistent problem 7-11
• Why?
  – Inevitable?
  – The productive skills of writing and speaking are more difficult than reading and
     listening
  – Literacy has been defined narrowly as reading, especially in the US
  – The problem with writing has been hidden under the canopy ‘English’
  – Over the last forty years, more emphasis in research on reading than writing
  – Most (English) teachers are advanced readers, but not advanced writers
  – An over-emphasis on the surface features of writing as opposed to the whole
     picture (content, structure, position/stance, sentence fluency, vocabulary,
4    accuracy)
A National Writing Project for
teachers is one solution
Focus on teacher confidence, competence and capability
We would not want to adopt the US model, but develop our own
• Success of NWP in the US over 35 years
  – First, as a model of continuing professional development
  – Second, to develop teachers as writers
     A broad range of writing, characterizing ‘creative’ widely
     Including primary as well as secondary teachers; and teachers from all subjects
     Being able to do what we ask children to do
  – Third, the impact on children’s performance
     Recent results show improved performance compared to control groups on all
       aspects of writing
     The importance of such improvement in terms of expression, self-esteem,
5      learning, citizenship, engagement – across the curriculum and beyond school
What would it look like in the UK?
10 day summer institute with follow-up during year; cascading to other teachers
through INSET days; annual showcase conference; an example
A workable model for the UK context
• Timing
  – Summer institute followed by evaluation/refresher shorter units
  – At least 10% of teachers from each pilot school, and no less than 2
  – Annual conference to showcase development; website support
• Dissemination
  – See model on p10 of report
• Policy and practice context
  – Importance of fitting into current and future initiatives: National Strategies;
     personalised learning; new GCSE criteria and specifications; 14-19; Every Child
6    Matters; development of teaching as a Masters-level profession (see p19), etc.
Proposals for a pilot
Three-year, relatively small-scale (Model A); or two-year, larger scale (Model B)?
The type of pilot depends on its purpose
• Model A
    – To test the model; ensure its workability; work out costing/funding
    – Four clusters of schools, each with a primary and secondary school
    – Impact on children measured, e.g. last year of primary, first two years of
      secondary
• Model B
    – More of a pathfinder approach; working toward national rollout faster
    – Ten clusters of schools, each with ten schools
    – More limited impact on children measurable; but wide impact on teachers
• Could reach national scale in four to five years with Model A; in three years with
    Model B
• 7 Governance: high level advisory board; management team; regional HEI/School
    partnerships
How would we fund it?
Ideally, a single funder; realistically, a consortium
Model A would cost c. £260,000 per annum; Model B more
• Model A’s costs are set out on p22 of the report
  – Works out at about £15,000 per teacher overall, initially – expensive, but worth it.
     Costs would drop per teacher, year on year.
  – Would need external evaluation
  – Would hope that government, independent charities, local authorities, industry;
     local, national and international sponsors would come on board
  – (In the US, federal funding began to flow in the late 1990s, supporting the central
     coordinating office of the NWP; grants are offered to individual writing
     projects/consortia via the centre for development and research – plus they raise
     their own local funds)

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Its potential significance
Closing two gaps: between reading and writing performance, and between
disadvantaged families and the rest
A range of benefits:
• Increased confidence and capability in teachers in a core professional area
• Networked social professionalism and support for teachers; bringing research on
  writing close to practice in writing
• Impact on children already evident in the US
• Writing confidence leads to engagement, enfranchisement, ownership/power and
  well-being; and a more competent workforce
• Writing must be seen in a 21st century context: multimodality, the continued
  importance of writing in the digital age
• In national and international terms, we would want to see literacy rising in the UK,
  especially addressing problems of the ‘long tail’
• Impact across the curriculum and beyond school
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Any questions?




                 Institute of Education
                 University of London
                 20 Bedford Way
                 London WC1H 0AL
                 Tel +44 (0)20 7612 6000
                 Fax +44 (0)20 7612 6126
                 Email info@ioe.ac.uk
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                 Web www.ioe.ac.uk

				
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posted:9/17/2012
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