Schools to ditch pupil 'play-time'
SIX-YEAR-OLD children will soon be ditching play-based activities in favour of sitting round tables and doing formal work at school under plans to improve standards across the city.
The guidance from Stoke-on-Trent City Council is part of a new 'raising achievement' strategy, which will look at a range of projects from early years through to GCSEs.
Education advisers say one of the key sticking points has been when pupils transfer from reception to year one classes.
Too many teachers are still getting them to follow a play-based approach rather than structured literacy and numeracy work.
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The issue was discussed at a meeting of the council's children and young people's overview and scrutiny committee yesterday.
Dot Hulley, strategic manager for school improvement, said: "We've maybe not been pushing our pupils in year one as much as we could do. We want to do more formal teaching in year one classrooms." She believes this is one of the reasons why Stoke-on-Trent is still at the bottom of league tables for the achievements of its seven-year-olds.
"We are hoping to see a real step-change in the performance at the end of key stage one," said Mrs Hulley.
The Sentinel revealed plans for the 'raising achievement' strategy last week.
Its biggest focus will be on improving reading and writing skills, and one project, called Stoke Reads, involves teaching mums and dads how to take a more imaginitive approach to reading with their children.
The hope is more children will be 'school ready' by the time they reach the age of three or four.
But councillor Ann James, a member of the scrutiny committee, yesterday raised concerns about how the most hard-to-reach families would be supported.
She said: "Very often, the families you are talking about will be the ones who get lost."
Other plans for improving literacy standards include getting high school pupils to create storytelling videos for use in primary schools.
There will also be more outdoor education activities to inspire children's writing and more training for teaching assistants to improve the support they offer struggling pupils.
In secondary schools, literacy work will be incorporated into every subject to raise the profile across the curriculum.
The committee heard that primary and secondary academies across Stoke-on-Trent have signed up to the new 'raising achievement' proposals and were keen to share their ideas. The projects are being overseen by a group of school leaders.