Tuesday, 16 July 2013


Having read Marilyn Achiron’s blog ‘What’s your strategy for learning’?, I was struck by the enduring link between literacy and performance. Indeed, the majority of gripes that I hear articulated in the staff room stem from our students’ inability to express themselves in meaningful and coherent ways. Another, perhaps more concerning pattern that I have come across, is a lack of desire among students to remediate this problem….the preference for brevity being the ultimate aim. Aspiring to learn more and having the will to take the lead from your teacher must surely be central to any improvement in performance

In her blog, Marilyn asserts that “While PISA cannot firmly establish cause and effect, these results suggest that one of the ways socio-economic advantage translates into better proficiency in reading is by providing more opportunities for students to develop an understanding of which learning strategies are the most effective.” This, of course, is where teachers have a responsibility to develop their own effective strategies to foster desire in their students. We can argue until blue in the face over Gove, Rote learning, knowledge versus skills etc., however, creating an environment where the written word and learning, whilst not necessarily always ‘fun’, can at least appear relevant and worthwhile, is as much a teacher's responsibility as having a plentiful supply of dry-wipe markers. In addition. Marilyn suggests that parents can assist their children by keeping them abreast of cultural and political affairs, and if this was likely to happen in disadvantaged households, I would applaud it. Sadly, this may not be the reality for a large proportion of disadvantages students and I would therefore reiterate the importance of contemporising our lessons and being innovative in our approaches to improving literacy in learning.

As it’s the summer holidays, my blog will, ironically, focus on brevity. I would, however, like to finish off by saying that I constantly find my ‘desire’ to learn is inspired by those who are part of my ‘PLN’ and that ‘teacher agency’ as Mark Priestley asserts, will always be the predominant force in improving the performance of our students.

Marilyn is the Editor, Directorate for Education and Skills at PISA

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