English at WAVE

This chain story, based on the picture prompt of a message in a bottle, sailed its way through Devon and Cornwall English classrooms at CHES AP, Sowenna and Carrick AP taking the writers and readers on an imaginative journey that noone quite anticipated. 

Thank you to our creative and fearless writers and their teachers, who in turn inpired each other in this team creation published here:


Our second Wave MAT chain story flying its way across the two counties last week is published here and based on the following picture prompt. Entitled 'The Sphere' this story was written by the amazing student writers at CHES AP, Stansfield AP, River Dart AP and Torlands AP with their English teacher. 

Thank you to the wonderful Wave writers who took part in this project. You are brilliant and we are all so proud of you!



At Wave MAT, every day is 'Book Day' as we champion and celebrate reading throughout the year in our classrooms and beyond. However to mark 'World Book Day' on March 4th 2021, we ran 3 'Chain Stories' across our schools in Devon and Cornwall. Starting with a picture as a prompt, our schools were challenged with writing a section of the text (opening, development, climax and resolution) before passing it on to the next group of writers and their English teacher. 

We are so proud of our imaginative creative writers at Wave and their teachers. Where the stories began was rarely where we anticipated they would end up! The results are something that all participants involved can be very proud of, as published writers here. We can all be writers. We can all have a voice. 


Read 'The Door' here....written by the amazing students at CHES AP, North Cornwall AP, Restormel AP and Shoreline AP and their teachers. We are so proud of you and what you have acheived togther. The Door is published here:




We recently ran a whole staff INSET exploring how we effectively develop students' literacy within Medical AP (with CHES and Sowenna in Cornwall and Torlands in Devon), and the unique challenges and opportunities therein. Equipping all our staff with the knowledge and understanding of the precise next literacy steps for each individual is key. Joining up conversations between English teachers and colleagues is important here as we look to sustain pedagogical change as well as enhance existing good practice in this area. 

One of the tools for developing literacy we explored on the day, with our guest speaker Andy Brumby, is ‘modelling'.

Andy has kindly followed this up with this article here:

Modelling regains its mojo!

Helping students find the ‘right’ books

If reading is too difficult, students are less likely to do it. Everything research tells us suggests that the gap between those who can read fluently and those who yet cannot when they join secondary school will widen. If you can do it, you will; and, because you are, you’ll keep getting better. If you don’t yet, and explicit attention isn’t given to this, progress in reading will stall. Reading becomes a chore; difficult and compounds a sense of failure when everything around you is saying ‘read more; reading rocks etc etc, you’ll never succeed if you don’t read’ etc etc

And we also know from research that we can make a difference by supporting students to choose texts that they are not only interested in, but that are closely matched to their current reading ability. Just the right level of difficulty in order to support fluency, and to introduce unfamiliar vocabulary at the right pace. If we get this part right, we are in a lot better position to be able to support continuing reading development and engagement.


And we know as English teachers from experience the difference that putting reading/interest ability matched books in front of our students. How ‘finding the right book’ can make all the difference.

As English teachers, we have our eyes and ears to the ground, continuously seeking out books to engage and interest the students we teach. We read widely and have a wealth of knowledge to share with parents and students about books they may enjoy. But also, we can use the following tools to support book choices for individuals. Before any of this: stopping and talking with students on a one to one basis about their perceptions of reading is useful. It is actually always the first steps with reluctant readers who join us. And we really, really listen. We seek to understand first at WAVE, then to be understood. The Five Finger guide below can then help.



We’ll look together at a book we think they might like from what they’ve told us about interests (or because, actually, we think they’ll like it anyway and we want to help them broaden choices depending on where they are with education and ‘reading’) and gently with them, we’ll help get a feel for how many words they are struggling with, and suggest some other books if this is too tricky just now. We can use our reading screen data (if this has been completed) to help make selections too. The ZPD score for each student can be entered into this website, and we can check the readability of a book here too. Students can be given the ZPD score to use themselves too, although this can be limiting, so we are careful here not to be giving the wrong message about what students ‘can’t read’ or ‘label’ students. We are mindful and careful and know that a sensitive approach which empowers, but also supports, choice is what works. We are also aware that no system is perfect and that the AR site can throw up anamolous results in terms of readability. So we use our judgement and common sense.

THE ZPD score is available from the English teacher, who will themselves find it alongside the Star reading test screen. The AR site link is at the end of this article. You enter the name of a book you want to check the readability of, and also, can use the ‘advance search’ function to help with suggestions. Our aim is to help our older students find a book to read independently, that they can read independently. It is only then that reading as an independent activity is pleasurable. And through doing this, we enable students to practise and practise and learn new things; explore new worlds; imbibe new language and see it in context; etc etc etc.

There is no one size fits all magic solution to the issue of stalled reading progress and the widening gap during secondary school years and some students will still need our close support to develop as readers, of course. But helping students find the ‘right books’ is within our power and duty as educators; parents and teachers together.


Every AP within our MAT has an English lead teacher. Here are a few words from each about themselves, and their classrooms across the two counties...





At WAVE MAT, we follow the Read Write Inc phonics programme in Primary and with 'Fresh Start' for some older students in order to support the development of reading and writing. The company have made daily phonics lessons for younger students available for free at this time. You can access them here, along with a number of useful parent guide videos to accompany the scheme and that can help you learn more about how you can support your child on their reading and literacy journey at home.

ReadWriteInc Phonics

To accompany the programme, a range of lovely stories are read aloud here:

Story Time



"The National Theatre Collection makes the best of British Theatre available worldwide to libraries, schools, universities and the wider education sector. Our unique collection presents high quality recordings of 30 world-class productions, giving you the best seats in the house whenever you want." 

Students and staff at WAVE can access the collection for free until the end of July 2020. For our GCSE students who study English Literature, you can watch acclaimed performances of Shakespeare's plays as well as adaptations of Frankenstein and other classics. Please ask your English teacher at WAVE for details of how to log in to the NT site:


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Teaching cursive handwriting is given time and attention in the primary curriculum in UK schools. Teaching how to type effectively shares less space currently within the national curriculum. And yet, as we know, we are all typists and increasingly so... 

Ever thought about learning to touch type? How many words to you punch into a screen every day? In today's fast moving world of technology and quick messaging, developing this skill could really help you to let your ideas and inner voice flow. During lockdown, it can be a great thing to have a go at learning something new, and it's never too late to learn.

You can do so for free in a course of online lessons here:

Touch typing course

There is a similar programme aimed to develop touch typing skills aimed at our younger primary students here:

BBC KS2 primary Touch Typing course