Last summer Gabrielle Jones an English teacher and Programme Manager for Literacy and Learning at Leyton Sixth Form College brought 15 or so of her colleagues to Queen Mary for a day’s Writing Retreat. Last week she invited us to the College to see how she and others had adapted some if the ideas and incorporated them into their teaching. Teresa and I sat in on two A2 classes where students were revising for their exams in a couple of weeks and also talked with teachers over a sandwich lunch. In what was a really fascinating morning we picked up a number of shifts in the way writing was being used by teachers and students. Before, writing was set as something to do after class; now it was much more regularly part of class activity; students were becoming used to finding a focus and writing for short bursts of time, usually of their own choosing: 10, minutes, or 20 or 30; they’d share their goals with a partner before writing, and afterwards discuss how they’d got on.
After weeks of rain, the sun finally came out this week on the second day of our two day workshop with teachers from the Draper's Academy. They will be welcoming their first sixth form students in September and in collaboration with their Head of Sixth, Julie Armstrong, we drew up a plan to help support its development, starting with this workshop and running throughout next year. We spent much of our two days together in conversation, unpacking understandings and experiences of writing in the teachers' own classrooms, in their subject areas, within the culture of the school and in 'the system' - of assessment for the students and inspection for the teachers.