Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Put down your pens, and pick up language

Trust Professional Director Wendy Lee talks about the benefits of schools taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday:

Tomorrow (October 10th), more than 1,100 schools across the country will be taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday. In other words they will be banned from writing anything down for the whole of the school day.

The Communication Trust first used this event in September 2011 as part of the Hello campaign – the national year of communication – to raise awareness of the benefits of good communication. We challenged schools across the country to spend a whole day without writing, making best use of their speech and language skills, and they responded fantastically!

We heard of schools arranging debates, talking homework and making podcasts as part of their lessons – one school even had the “pen police” patrolling and watching out for pens and pencils in action. It was a brilliant event for Hello and got people really thinking about how children benefit from having good speaking and listening skills. Though it was a fun event, there was a serious side - it highlighted that a focus on speaking and listening can be really challenging – and how much children can learn by not writing things down.

This year, No Pens Day Wednesday could be seen as even more important for schools. Communication is now a key component of the Ofsted framework; in how teaching enables communication skills and in how pupils develop these skills and apply them across the curriculum.

For the first time, there is a spotlight on communication as well as on literacy and numeracy – a significant step forward for those campaigning for the importance of speech, language and communication skills.

We know from evidence it is fundamental that children have good speech, language and communication (SLC) skills, and that poor SLC development can impact on other areas such as literacy, behaviour and overall attainment. The more we can do to boost children’s SLC development the better and we are keen to support schools with ideas and resources to build on the good practice they already have in place.

No Pens Day Wednesday is a great and enjoyable way to put the focus on spoken language as a way to support and enhance learning. We’re excited that over 1,100 schools have signed up and we’d urge as many other schools as possible to do the same. If you can’t join in on October 10th, just pick another day that works for your school – once you’re registered you’ll have access to all the lesson plans, assemblies and staff meeting briefings prepared by our experts. You can use these resources whenever you like, as part of normal school days or host a No Pens Day Wednesday once a term if you like.

Last year, curriculum expert Mick Waters recorded a short film, explaining why he was supporting No Pens Day Wednesday. He said: “I think No Pens Day is a great idea because if you think about the amount of time you use a pen, is all this time writing in school really preparing children for grown-up life? We could make life so exciting without pens.”

Watch Mick’s full film here

If you’re interested in signing up for No Pens Day Wednesday visit our website here for more information.

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