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Welcome to Teachit's fortnightly round-up of all things English and educational!

Hitting the headlines: education news

Read all about it

Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that children who read with their parents every day, or at least once a week, gained significantly higher scores in exams sat at 15 with the highest achieving children still receiving parental support well into their teens.

There was an instinctive understanding among parents that spending time with their children could give them a head start in life, but that this was compromised by ‘ competing demands at work and at home’ and parents feeling they lack ‘some of the skills that would make a difference to their children’s success at school’.

The same pattern was found irrespective of families’ social class, it was revealed. What was important was that parents read books regularly with their children - such as several times a week - and that they talked about what they were reading together.

The findings came as a separate study by the charity Booktime found that 98 per cent of teachers believe children fail to read enough for pleasure in the home.

Reading with parents 'improves children's exams results' (The Telegraph)

Reading to children has long impact, says OECD study (BBC)

Girls' school grapples with grammar

A top London school is staging lessons in grammar for pupils aged 11 to 14 to address concerns over grammar.

Pupils at St Paul’s Girls’ School are being given a dedicated class every fortnight covering a full range of issues such as sentence structure and the use of commas, colons and full-stops. It will also cover confusing words, capital letters and formal and informal speech.

Clarissa Farr, High Mistress of the school, said: ‘There appears to have been a shying away from the teaching of these basic skills, maybe for fear that they are dull or seen as too hard.’

‘Actually, they do not need to be dull. Girls are finding that they can be quite enjoyable and can give them a tremendous sense of achievement.’

The school’s head of English, Dr Jonathan Patrick, suggested that screen-based technology may be damaging children’s writing skills.

‘My friends still laugh at me for using colons and semi-colons in text messages but they are in danger of dying out. We have to accept that this is where young people are using language most frequently – in electronic forms – and therefore maybe the principles need to be restated.’

Bright pupils struggling with basic grammar, says top head (The Telegraph)


Brilliant books and riveting writers

Pirate cats and a naughty schoolboy scoop prize

A rhyming picture book about pirate cats has won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, which honours humorous books for children.

Cats Ahoy!, written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Jim Field, was named funniest book for children aged six and under. Liz Pichon's The Brilliant World of Tom Gates won the prize in the 7-14 category.

The prize was set up three years ago by Michael Rosen as part of his children's laureateship, and seeks to celebrate the books that make children laugh. He described a ‘ker-ching! moment’ when, judging a children's book prize, he realised that funny books tend to be overlooked in favour of more serious reads and yet children consistently state that funny books are the ones that they enjoy reading most.

This year, 400 school pupils had a role in the judging process, picking their favourite book. Rosen said that it was ‘wonderful to build in a children's viewpoint because you can hit a wall in the judging where too often you get into the 'would' bit – you start saying that children 'would' like it. Now we've built in children 'do' like it rather than children 'would'.’

Roald Dahl funny prize goes to naughty schoolboy (The Guardian)

Roald Dahl funny prize won by 'Cats Ahoy!' (BBC)

Competitions and other lovely things

Merriam Webster site

Nasen and Smart Kids have launched their first competition. Using the downloadable photo cards as a starting point, pupils aged 12 -16 create a story under the theme of ‘We all matter'. Stories can be presented in any way they choose. The first prize is a £250 Smart Kids voucher for the school and a £50 gift voucher to the pupil in each category. There are also £10 gift vouchers for 5 ‘highly commended’ entries.

Find quotations about words, quizzes , word of the day and a section dedicated to new words and slang on the Merriam Webster site - a lovely way to while away a few spare moments.

If you'd like to set aside a little time for your own celebration of National Short Story Week, have a look at the specially commissioned short stories by Margret Atwood, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and William Trevor available on The Guardian website.


There’s still time to enter Year 7 and 8 students in the National Short Story Week competition. Stories should be between 900 and 1000 words with the title ‘The Choice’. Prizes include the winning entry being recorded by a professional actor and broadcast online, an e-book of runners-up entries, and gift vouchers. To take part, students must ask their school library to register for the competition at The deadline for entries is 9th January 2012.


National Short Story Week

Topical treasure of the week

Have fun negotiating through a mass of misspellings in the Homophone maze.

Homophone maze

KS3 > Skills > Investigating words and spellings

For the latest (and lovely) Teachit resources, visit our Latest additions page.

What's hot in the staffroom?

'Hello - hello - hello / Is there anybody in there / Just nod if you can hear me / Is there anyone home?'

If you’re on the site, why not pop into the staffroom for a chat?

The Staffroom

Join in with a discussion, or start one of your own in the Staffroom.

Whizzy and wonderful

Lesson starter whizzy

Try our interactive Lesson starters - adjectives, synonyms and antonyms resource. It's a great hands-on way to get students thinking about their vocabulary choices.

Revision central

Revision central resources

Exam season may be looming (again), but fear not!

At Revision central, we've created lots of happy, shiny revision resources, along with exam timetables, planners and tips. Job done. 


Puffin Books presents Jeff Kinney Virtually Live! Jeff Kinney - Puffin Virtually Live

Join Jeff Kinney, the best-selling creator of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, as he brings Greg Heffley and his hilariously funny children’s books to life.

Find out how Greg was born, where the ‘cheese touch’ idea came from, and how Jeff’s much-loved characters made their screen debuts in the hugely successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid film franchise.

Jeff Kinney - Puffin Virtually LiveYou’ll even be able to submit questions live for Jeff to answer at the event!


This event is perfect for 7-11 year olds.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has sold over 50 million copies worldwide and the sixth book DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: CABIN FEVER is coming on 16 November. This hilarious new book sees the Heffley family stuck indoors during a blizzard. But can they weather the storm?  Get ready for the funniest fever you’ll ever catch!  

  What’s on!


Alan Yentob meets Alan Ayckbourn as he premieres his 75th work.
Tuesday 15th November
10:35pm – 11:45pm

A Perfect Day (2006)
A man persues his lifelong dream of becoming an author.
Wednesday 16th November
3:10pm – 5:00pm
Channel 5

My Dog Skip (2000)
Biographical drama adapted from the novel by Willie Morris.
Sunday 20th November
2:35pm – 4:25pm
Channel 5



Spike Milligan - The Serious Poet
Milligan's three daughters offer their recollections of their father, through the prism of his poetry.
Saturday 12th November
11:30pm – 12:00am
BBC Radio 4

A Good Read
A discussion of three recommended reads, featuring Nerina Pallot, Peter Molyneux and Harriett Gilbert.
Tuesday the 15th November
4:30pm – 5:00pm
BBC Radio 4

The Return of Sherlock Holmes
Bert Coules' adaptation of the mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Tuesday 15th November
8:00pm – 8:45pm
BBC Radio 4 Extra

Three Stories by Giovanni Verga
Dermot Crowley reads Gramigna's Mistress, the first of three tales by the Siciilian writer.
Sunday 20th November
12:30am – 12:48am
BBC Radio 4

Postscripts by JB Priestley
Patrick Stewart reads from JB Priestley's observations of the Second World War.
Sunday 20th November
11:45am – 12:00pm
BBC Radio 4 Extra



The Woman In Black
7th June – 17th December 2011
Fortune Theatre, London

An Inspector Calls
22nd September 2011 – January 2012

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
28th October – 19th November 2011
Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch

28th October – 21st January 2012
Young Vic, London

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)
29th October – 28th January 2012
New Red Lion Theatre, London

A Midsummer Night's Dream
31st October – 17th March 2011

Twelfth Night
5th November – 1st December 2011

Measure for Measure
17th November 2011 – 10th March 2012
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Winter's Tale
30th November – 18th December 2011
The Space, London

The Importance of Being Earnest
6th December – 31st December 2011
Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington

The Taming of the Shrew
19th January 2012 – 18th February 2012
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Blood Brothers
20th February 2012 – 3rd March 2012
The Hippodrome, Bristol

Romeo and Juliet
29th February 2012 – 17th March 2012
The Questors Theatre, Ealing, London

29th February 2012 – 17th March 2012
The Questors Theatre, Ealing, London

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