Calling All London-Based Primary Schools!

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The Grammar and Writing Project From The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy

This exciting project is exploring the effectiveness of a new approach to teaching grammar to improve children’s writing, as part of the national curriculum. The research involves Y2 teachers, using random selection from the list of all Y2 teachers in London. The research will be very robust – it involves a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) and qualitative process evaluation. The project is being led by Professor Dominic Wyse of UCL Institute of Education.

The RCT:

Randomised selection will result in some schools being in an ‘intervention group’ and other schools in a ‘comparison group’.

  • Schools in the ‘intervention group’: will receive free training and support in academic year 2019-20 to use Englicious with their classes (one Y2 teacher per school)
  • Schools in the ‘comparison group’: will receive this free training and support in academic year 2020-21 (one Y2 teacher per school)

The Process Evaluation:

Some schools will be visited so that we can better understand practice ‘on the ground’.

The training that teachers would get:

  • Intervention group: one Y2 teacher in each school would receive training and support to use Englicious with their class and be involved in some activities that enable the research team to gather data about this.
  • Comparison group: one Y2 teacher in each school would be involved in some activities that enable the research team to gather supplementary data for the project.

What we would need from participating schools:

  • some standard administrative data and pupil data, e.g. data about EAL, FSM
  • collaborating with us on the organisation of the project’s tests of writing
  • assistance with seeking parental consent (we would provide the relevant paperwork)

Data Protection and ethics

All pupil data will be treated with the strictest confidence and stored in accordance with current data protection legislation. All results from the study will be anonymised so that no schools or individual pupils will be identified; confidentiality will be maintained at all times. The research team are all from the world-leading University College London and the UCL Institute of Education so we have lots of experience of dealing with data ethically.

Potentially interested in being involved?

To register your school’s interest in this study (please be assured this would not formally commit you to anything at this stage), simply send an email to our researcher, Dr Sue Sing, to the following email address: by no later than the close of Wednesday 18th September.

A Functional Grammar Table: CPD Subject Knowledge With A Difference

Before we start, it is important to point out that Functional grammar makes up only a small part of our Real-World Literacy approach. To find out more please click here. Alternatively, you can receive email updates from our blog by clicking the follow button in the top right hand corner of this page.

What Does Functional Grammar Actually Mean?

Functional grammar is about shifting your understanding of grammar and punctuation away from ‘rules to be followed’ to one that looks at its function – why is it there and what is it doing? What can grammar and punctuation do for us as writers and what does it already do for the texts our favourite authors write?

If children can spot grammar and punctuation in texts written by professional authors and if they can be given the opportunity to use these ‘writing tricks’ in their writing, they will not only produce better texts but they will be skilled in the exercise of name-and-identify which is so popular (for some reason) in grammar tests.

It is possible to create pupils who can be their own critics and also be interested and motivated in trying to make their own writing as clear and creative as possible for their readers.

We made the Functional Grammar Table below because we were fed up with texts which simply told you the rules of a piece of grammar. They often didn’t tell children (or indeed adults) why they might want to use it and the effect it can have on their writing. We were also fed up with the concept of ‘grammar deficit’. This is the practice of continually passing judgement on errors children make in grammar-exercises as opposed to talking critically about what value grammar can have for their writing or the effect its absence has on the effectiveness of their piece. This realisation has transformed our practice and got us the academic results we were looking for. We explain how we now approach grammar teaching below:

Continue reading “A Functional Grammar Table: CPD Subject Knowledge With A Difference”