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Seeing the wood for the trees: learning to teach beyond the curriculum. How can student teachers be helped to see beyond the National Literacy Strategy?

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'With the NLS - they can see how everything is important if we want our English to be good and it's helped me to see it that way too. Before, we just used to see it all separately. This way is much better' (Rebecca Graham, Year 4 English specialist after Final Block Placement). This quote was collected in the final stage of a study involving student teachers, four years after the National Literacy Strategy (NLS) was implemented. In this article I argue that this data shows it is possible (but by no means guaranteed) for student teachers to learn to use the NLS framework in a flexible, responsive, child-centred way that links to a broader and deeper understanding of English. The quote contrasts with data taken in earlier stages of the study (and published in this journal: Twiselton, 2000), which suggested that the NLS appeared to have led student teachers to a very restricted view of English. I argued earlier that it was possible that this might be a temporary 'stalling' to be compensated at a later time. In this article I review and explore the later data and argue for the importance of helping student teachers to develop broad and deep frameworks of understanding to underpin their knowledge of the curriculum.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: St Martin's College, Lancaster, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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