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SPAG for Year 6

(34 Posts)
phlebasconsidered Thu 04-Feb-16 21:19:00

I'm starting to really worry for my Year 6. Although my school did a great job embedding the past SPAG requirement, the new content that has to be shoved is just killing me in terms of time to fit it in.

So much has changed: they started the school learning connectives, now they need to know co-ordinating and subordinating conjunctions. They were great with verb / tense agreement until I've had to introduce subjunctive and present imperfect, and now they're wary.

I've organised Easter boosters and I will be delivering booster sessions every week early mornings and after school ( bye bye seeing my own kids...) but I'm really after knowing how other people are managing it. Are you setting groups and targeting? On what? I've looked and looked at the available material and expectations and i'm floundering. The nearest practice material is 11 plus stuff. What are others using? I'd feel a lot more confident if I felt that the government was: the first sample material included a textual question, by the second sample that was gone. The first question sample paper was reasonably familiar in layout, the second less so. I just don't trust them to deliver anything in May I recognise! It's bad enough that it's almost 50% new content.

I just realised i'm panicking on the basis of my data. This is a class that was confident in SPAG last year. Easily Level 4 already, now not so.

We have Grammar Hammer, it doesn't seem to be working.
I don't want to "kill" the grammar before they get there, but i'm beginning to think that teaching to the question is the only way some of them are going to get there.


Curioushorse Thu 04-Feb-16 21:25:16

Hi. Well, I'm a Secondary Head of English. Probably the most sensible plan is to start a large scale riot. If you get it going with a charge up the front, I'll back you up with some petrol bombs. That's to wherever DfE hang out, not your students, BTW.

(Sigh. It's been super fun teaching all this stuff to Year 10, whilst also teaching them the new syllabus for the GCSEs we don't actually have that much information for. We've had to rush it, because obviously there isn't time, but there's been a lot of tears.....mostly from me)

TeaT1me Thu 04-Feb-16 21:32:25

Curious - I'm curious do they ever need this stuff again after year 6? If someone who homeschooled and had just literally done creative writing and basic verb/noun /adjective do they need to learn a lot to cope with secondary English? I managed a humanities degree without knowing any of this and v curious about how much it's impacting education.

phlebasconsidered Thu 04-Feb-16 21:33:19

Oh I would love to join you, Curious. I hate how the bloody moving goalposts just stuff things for year groups. I am old enough to have lived through at least 5 incarnations, including my very own lab rat status as a GCSE first year ( who also took O Levels early). That was fun. I taught Secondary for 8 years and it happened there too.AS/ A2, all that jazz. People in charge showing no remorse at all. It probably doesn't affect your kids in an Independent school as much.

I just HATE it. I want to scream and shout and lose it at them in a Dead Poets Way and say "IT DOES NOT MATTER!" I'm with Rosen on this. I have witnessed this very year a previously blossoming writer just absolutely break down and stop under these fierce new rules. It beggars belief. We teach them subjunctive bloody tone and the RULES. I moved to Primary to get some joy back. Some joy still existed. It doesn't now. 32 kids in my class that I also had last year. They were fab then, suddenly the goalposts move and now they are not. It's bollocks.

phlebasconsidered Thu 04-Feb-16 21:34:09

A lot of the Year 6 stuff used to be my Year 8 stuff, way back. It's probably all changed now.

TeaT1me Thu 04-Feb-16 21:42:41

Do they teach all these in independents at all? ( I'm a secondary trained teacher wondering every now and then about returning to practice or homeschooling!!)

TeaT1me Thu 04-Feb-16 21:43:28

(sorry not able to help but amazed at how mad it's got in the years I've been out. I think I love and expect anyone still teaching.)

phlebasconsidered Thu 04-Feb-16 22:11:55

My SIL is Head of an Independent. You can bypass SATS at primary level, you don't have to do it. 11 plus is sometimes a feature. Otherwise, you don't have to bother, you just focus on teaching so they can get to the next Independent school / Uni.

SATS are a nightmare visited on the comprehensive primaries. They are almost completely pointless given that I used to assess my Year 7's as soon as I got them, and then again every year until more SATS at Year 9.

I'm not saying don't assess. I'm saying assess usefully. This current fuck up has left pretty much every primary in my rural area using different assessment rules ( no levels!) and God knows how the Secondary is going to make sense of it. We don't even really know how the papers are going to be marked.I have had my class for two years. I know how they have progressed. But this year has failed them, although I do not doubt they will rise magnificently to it.

Curioushorse Thu 04-Feb-16 22:19:56

I'm in an Independent. Honestly, the students in our state primary feeder schools are currently coming in to our school at a significantly higher level than those from the feeder prep schools. So, no, there are very prestigious, expensive prep schools out there which I can assure you, from firsthand experience, are definitely not teaching this stuff, TeaT1me.

And it's going to have an interesting effect on education. There is a fair bit of research...though I think it's all fairly old now. Basically, the theory behind the education of the last 30 years was that actually, there is pretty much no benefit to students learning to name the parts of the sentence or different grammar stuff. And, seriously, as OP was saying, it is very complicated and takes loads of time. Actually, you're better off getting students to just write and plan pieces of creative writing, thinking about the effect on the audience etc. Seriously, how much help would knowing the difference between a determiner and an article actually have been to you in your real life?

The students do need it again....but only now. At GCSE. The new syllabi have just come in and it looks to me as though they are designed to tie-in with what's going on at primary schools. The problem is that there are five year's worth of children who weren't taught that syllabus at primary school and have, in fact, been wasting their time at secondary school doing things like developing writing skills and analysing literature. If only we'd known, we could have got them working on identifying word classes instead.

Petrol bombs anyone?

Curioushorse Thu 04-Feb-16 22:24:18

And jeeeeez, it's boring, as well, isn't it? The main benefit, as far as I can see, is that it'll make me lose weight. You have to leap around super excitedly in lessons just to make a feeble stab at convincing the students that it's interesting.

phlebasconsidered Thu 04-Feb-16 22:27:10

Curious, you have nailed the problem. I am sad that my best poetic writers are not using determiners correctly and so will be marked down.

I want kids who want to write. Does this SPAG stuff help that? That's all I need to know. My own kids are illustrations of the problem. My own boy has literally seized up writing since he has been SPAGGED every single week. My daughter regards it as a game, but then she has the confidence to break rules. Anyway, off to bed for me! SPAG in the morning!

mercifulTehlu Thu 04-Feb-16 22:33:06

<dons hard hat> We MFL teachers will love it! It's hard teaching kids a foreign language from scratch when they don't know how their own language works, or the names of any of the grammar stuff. Although how you lot are supposed to fit all this in when it wasn't there on the curriculum before is beyond me. My dd is in Year 6 and I looked through a spag paper she brought home and was shock shock shock ! It was bloody hard. She did well because her mother is a linguist and drones on about grammar all the time but I can't imagine most of the kids could do it. In fact I slightly wonder whether some of the teachers could...

Nicknamegrief Thu 04-Feb-16 22:41:27

Not a teacher (former SLT) and while I agree there maybe an element of overkill particularly for those who have to catch up with the new curriculum, I think that SPAG is so important. It was never taught when I was in school (late 30s and went to international schools). Learning a MFL was really hard, studying linguistics was very hard. Teaching the rules of language (like the rules of phonics) overtly, is an asset that can help you manipulate and use language. I agree it is boring and must be hard work to teach but I do think it will benefit those who learn and can apply it.

christinarossetti Thu 04-Feb-16 23:05:31

But children aren't really going to 'learn' it in a crash course delivered by a teacher who doesn't actually know what the final test will look like or how it will be marked.

I agree that learning the rules of language is often boring and hard work, but the payoff should be that you develop a deeper understanding of language and how to use it. We don't teach phonics separately to developing a love of independent reading, and it makes no sense to teach grammar in ways that kill any creative or experimental use of language.

Not a teacher by the way. Have 2 children at primary and am feeling very despondent about the state of education, and the overall mental well-being of teachers.

TeenAndTween Fri 05-Feb-16 12:17:48

Hi. I'm a parent of a y6 child who would have been lucky to get L4 under the old levels.

Our school has (obviously) SPAG teaching, and sends home a double page in a CGP workbook to be done each week for homework, plus around 15 spellings fortnightly. No booster sessions mentioned yet and there is no way they will do them in the holidays. Perhaps one weekly after school, but perhaps not even that.

I would not want DD to go to Easter holiday booster sessions - time enough for them in year 11 I think. But I sadly understand why you are feeling the need to provide them.

You are all star star star

TeaT1me Fri 05-Feb-16 12:20:32

Yup I'd feel really uncomfortable sending mine in for extra booster sessions. It's not really for the child's benefit is it? At the end of the day if they can't answer a test question about a subordination conjunctive (I don't know what that is) at 11 years old it's not the end of the world for still rather they were playing outside, enjoying reading and hobbies than getting stressed about bizarre tests.

TooMuchOfEverything Fri 05-Feb-16 12:22:36

I'm a Y6 parent and its CGP books a go go here. It is bloody crap and boring and depressing - and I don't always agree with the book answers because you can't boil our gorgeous language down into a ticky boxy load of shite.

Anyway, DC has finished their mock mock Sats, so now there is 'only' the mock Sats and then the real Sats to get through. Lucky kid!! hmm

TooMuchOfEverything Fri 05-Feb-16 12:26:56

As a parent I'd give DC the choice re extra sessions.

We bought some extra workbooks because school was flogging them and he wants to be the same as his mates. He came home telling me 'Fred has the biggest pile of books, Ali has the next biggest... Jo has none because he was off sick when they gave the order forms out... etc... BUT poor old Billy's mum said HE WASN'T ALLOWED ANY!'

I feel like SATS are such crap, the only benefit my child might get is to his self esteem (having 'failed' 11+) - he came home on a high from the mockmocks and it made me realise the best thing I can do is to support him in feeling happy about himself.

If that means doing a bit more work at home I'm doing it for HIM not for the fucking government to say their shit has raised standards, coz it really hasn't.

phlebasconsidered Fri 05-Feb-16 18:55:10

Really proud of my class today. I tried to make a game of complex sentence parts. Can you guess which is which? I had all the new terms on the board and a selection of sentences on my paper pad. We crossed them off as we identified them. When we got to conjunctions, they all said "connective" because that's what they've learnt. Then they guessed conjunction. From the variety of sentences, and their knowledge clauses, they got to co-ordinating and subordinating conjunctions. We then did lots of standing holding segments of sentences and jiggling conjunctions and kids to physically show the difference. It worked: more kids holding a word showed a subordinate clause and hence conjunction, less or equal kids a coordinating conjunction. But my god it was hard work. One kid asked why connective had changed. I gave him and the rest an honest answer. They all basically agreed to learn new stuff because of the new rules. I feel awful as a teacher. They trust me and I just moved the goalposts!

minifingerz Sat 06-Feb-16 08:22:08

Ex teacher, now parent of year 6 child looking on in bemusement at the SPAG debacle at dc's school. DS's teacher looks a bit more gaunt every time I see him.

The odd thing is that DS, who has ASD, is in an extension group for grammar, despite being in the bottom group for literacy last year. His writing is hellishly bad, but his autistic enthusiasm for deconstructing and categorising the world has made him a whizz at identifying the parts of speech. Very unexpected.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Sat 06-Feb-16 08:32:05

I'm not a teacher and never have been, but I'm the parent of a current year 5 and a current year 7 (both with SENs which mean I'm in more regular contact with teachers than I would be otherwise) and the difference in expectations in just two years is extraordinary, I'm dreading next year for my youngest, hats off to all you teachers dealing with

BetweenTwoLungs Sat 06-Feb-16 09:25:30

Year 6 teacher here - do you FB? Are you on the year 5/6 group? There's been some good ideas on there for teaching the new bits like using Cluedo to teach active/passive subject/object.

I'm mostly teaching to test. I teach the vocab and then we do practice questions. The kids are getting it. The lower ability ones are struggling a bit. It's so hard, there's so much to remember for them.

I bring it up all day too eg in science I might say who can spot a determiner, who can spot a noun phrase etc. Making the vocab everyday language that we use all the time. The children's targets for writing include these words eg begin sentences with a conjunction, use a relative clause etc.

Also Spag Whiz for homework is good. It's £20 for the year but you can create your own practice spag papers focusinf in particular areas and they've made loads of extra questions the same style.

calzone Sat 06-Feb-16 21:28:34 do you teach to the test?

BetweenTwoLungs Sat 06-Feb-16 23:22:28

I teach the grammar to answer questions - we learn something then I create a sheet using the style of the spag. One benefit of the spag is incredibly predictable.

leccybill Tue 09-Feb-16 09:44:08

MFL teacher here recently converted to primary and teaching a lot in Year 6. It's no secret that I'm a grammar geek, always have been - I love how language is constructed.
But by god, for a lot of children, it is boring and demotivating - and dare I say, unnecessary? And I'm starting to think a lot of it is made-up - determiners didn't exist when I learn grammar, suddenly they are everywhere. And the whole connective/conjunction issue - like a previous poster said, you tell them one thing then you have to say 'actually that was wrong (ergo I am wrong), this is now the answer'...not very inspiring or trustworthy, is it?

I hate this politician's speech-writing curriculum we have and I feel sorry for my own poor child having to go through primary under this current govt.
Creative subjects squashed, curriculum narrowed right down to Eng/Maths, and for what? To please Ofsted? League tables? Secondary schools don't care about SATs, we really really don't. They are meaningless. There are too many variables for them to be relied upon - and in any case, we re-test, set and review regularly ourselves.

Education has gone to shit. I'm so fucking angry about this.

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