If we want our boys to become better writers, teachers should stop marking their work (so much!)

Yesterday, I attended the British Library’s conference for teachers called Writing: Our Placewhich was held in partnership with LATE (London branch of the National Association for the Teaching of English). The keynote speaker was Simon Wrigley, a former chair of NATE (the National Association for the Teaching of English) and the founder of NATE’s National Writing Project. His speech was truly inspiring because he talked about the success of the project in getting not only pupils to improve their writing, but also teachers. At the heart of the National Writing Project is the notion that when teachers start doing their own writing, then they are in a much better position to improve their pupils’ writing. The project is very different in tone and approach to the National Strategies and the government’s current thinking because it believes that when pupils are given more freedom to write what they want, in the way they want, without the teacher breathing down their neck every minute with the red pen handy, then you see them starting to really find out what writing can do and, as a consequence, significantly improve their writing. I managed to catch Simon Wrigley briefly during the busy conference and he very kindly offered his views to camera. The project has so far anecdotally shown that boys appear to benefit when teachers hold back from marking their work. I am hoping though to interview him more thoroughly at a future date and report back in more detail about this very exciting project.


Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing (fgipublishing.com) which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network, www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, www.francisgilbert.co.uk. He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

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