How working with others can help overcome challenges in education

In this blog, Richard Charlesworth, UKLA Regional Rep for London, talks about the development of a more creative and effective English curriculum.


Richard Charlesworth is a UKLA Regional Rep for London who is passionate about the development of a more creative and effective English curriculum

I am about to embark on a new role as Teaching and Enhancement Lead of English at a four-form-entry primary school in Hounslow, West London. This follows completion of a Masters in Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, which I studied part-time while teaching Year 6. The MA has allowed me to develop myself professionally; reflect on my role as an English curriculum subject lead; and broaden my reading of high-quality literature, leading research and classic and contemporary theory. Having Michael Rosen as a personal tutor is just the icing on the cake!

I joined the UKLA quite recently, in March 2018, following a workshop I ran on Creative Writing at Homerton in Cambridge. I have found the UKLA to be such a supportive and inclusive community and have had the opportunity to forge several strong friendships and network with like-minded literature loving individuals. Heading to the International Conference in Cardiff, 2018 was like bringing my bibliography to life.

I was asked to become a Regional Rep for London after I attended UKLA regional and international conferences. I work alongside Kat Vallely. I am looking forward to meeting with other reps in November. Working with these esteemed colleagues, I hope to share the amazing work that the UKLA does and use it to positively impact the children whom I teach.

One of the challenges I notice in the classroom, and at local moderations, is the interpretation of the assessment of Writing. Over the past eight years, I have worked under several different frameworks. Developing a consistent, cross-school approach that focuses writing back on creativity, purpose and pleasure while ensuring that standards are still met is an arduous task. This is where the support of a collaborative, knowledge-rich community, such at that offered by the UKLA, can be helpful. It’s better to work with others than on your own.

As students, teachers, librarians, leaders and lecturers we need to band together to ensure recent gains, such as the renewed focus on Reading for Pleasure and outcomes from CLPE’s Reflecting Realities report, do not dissipate. It is important that we continue to champion diversity, to ensure that all children can see themselves in the literature we use in the classroom. This is a journey I am only just starting on; I hope through wider reading I will be able to recommend texts for use in class and ensure each child is given the best opportunity to see themselves in the curriculum which they are an integral part of.

Engaging children and supporting them in identifying why authors use grammatical features is far more important than knowing how to answer a question in a SPAG test. Having worked the past few years on developing Creative Writing and empathy, using high-quality picture books, I am very interested in attending the UKLA and NEU’s joint event in November. Titled, Creative Approaches to Teaching Grammar in Context, it looks set to be a great morning looking at how creative approaches to grammar teaching can impact on reading and writing standards. I will be in attendance and look forward to finding out more. Joining the UKLA not only provides you termly magazines filled with exciting ideas and research, it also gives you discount for events such as this. Hope to see you there!

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