April 12, 2021

Effective English Planning on the return of pupils post lockdown 3.0

The intention of sharing this thought process is to support schools to review the learning landscape – review where the children are and warm them back into English, whilst being conscious that every school is different.


  • To give structure to reflections by teachers and leaders for ‘what now’ and ‘what next’ in all elements of English after lockdown 3.0
  • To consider approaches that will enable teachers to rapidly assess the children who have been at home without an overload of ‘testing’
  • To consider the importance of diagnostic assessment: ‘… diagnostic assessments will be crucial in steering decisions about how teachers support pupils … some pupils will need some additional reading or writing practise … whilst some knowledge and skills will likely require re-teaching. Curriculum adaptations will be key
  • To enable teachers and pupils to build on progress made during blended learning
  • To suggest opportunities for AfL – enabling ‘teachers as noticers’ throughout all lessons.

Questions to consider

  • What concerns do you have about teaching after lockdown 3.0?
    Independence – perhaps parents have been ‘giving’ the spelling so children have forgotten skills for finding themselves eg using sound buttons / word banks / dictionary
  • What elements of English teaching were strong in blended learning and which were less so? How might the English timetable need to be adapted as a result?Think spoken language, spelling, reading to the children, children reading with an adult and writing. Perhaps you are concerned that year 3 children have not had sufficient eyes on print reading time and therefore whole class reading needs to include two days a week focused on fluency / word reading.
  • What were the misconceptions that need to be addressed / returned to?
    Perhaps decisions were made to ‘leave’ elements of teaching that were complex in blended learning until full return to the classroom. Perhaps parents have taught in different ways eg a grapheme with poor enunciation.
  • What needs to be taught before the end of the year to be ready for the next academic year?  Think national curriculum objectives that have not yet been taught such as spelling rules, grammar skill, moving up book bands for reading rapidly.
  • What needs to be consolidated before the end of the academic year?Perhaps a grammar skill that has been taught twice in a narrative unit, but not yet applied in non-fiction writing.
  • Are there any objectives still not secure from the previous year group due to remaining gaps from lockdown 1.0?
    Such as phases in phonics, spelling rules, punctuation skill. 
  • Thinking strategically – which key knowledge, skills and behaviours need to be sufficiently secured by the end of the academic year?

Spoken Language

After lockdown 1.0, teachers reflected on spoken language skills being significantly weaker on return in September and this may again be the case to a greater or lesser extent.

Ideas to consider: 
  •  Provide multiple purposeful and incidental reasons for talk in the classroom on a daily basis and throughout learning journeys
  • All adults to correct oral grammar rapidly and consistently.
  • Rebuild skills and ‘rules’ of dialogic talk eg turn taking, listening to others, responding.
  • Consider pairing children who have been at school with those at home to rebuild expectations.
  • Prioritise whole class reading comprehension to have oral rather than written outcomes.
  • Utilise a range of drama approaches across the curriculum. 


In my experience of working with schools during spring 2021, there appears to have been a wide range of experiences / approaches to the teaching of reading for home learners.  For many teachers, it was the last element of English to secure effectively.  As always with reading, there was also variety of approaches from year group to year group. Therefore, it is even more important that schools re-establish starting points in reading on an individual basis and reflect on the journey children have had.   

 Ideas to consider: 
  • Identify the gaps in the reading ‘diet’ so far this term 
  • All children being heard read individually as soon as possible
  • Plan sufficient curriculum time for reading fluency
  • Rebuild stamina in reading where necessary
  • Appropriateness of texts children are reading for themselves – recheck book bands, appropriate authors etc
  • The balance of time for adults reading to children and eyes on print time with children reading texts for themselves 
  • Ask open ended questions – clue and thinking questions to deepen thinking and identify gaps in comprehension. 


Give children a couple of weeks to recall prior learning and remind of expectations in spelling. 

Ideas to consider:
  • Focus on closing the learning loop on spelling – encourage children to remember and to apply in their writing
  • Give children time to edit their writing and improve spellings
  • Use retrieval practice techniques to recall and embed learning
  • Identify spelling error trends in your class and determine next steps for teaching.


The intention is to create multiple open-ended tasks to challenge and uncover misconceptions, hesitancy of knowledge and unreliability in skills – to notice what needs to be taught again and ensure summer term learning journeys find a reason to teach the skill/s, by being highly receptive and adaptive to feedback from children’s learning on a daily basis. 

Ideas to consider:
  • Have an engaging and short rich text driver eg film / image – a quick ‘hook’ / way in to inspire writing and offers plentiful talk opportunities
  • Plan very much the ‘normal’ learning journey with some adaptations rather than anything radically different/new
  • Maintain the three-step learning journey structure, but develop additional writing outcomes
  • Keep writing task design simple eg diary from a different viewpoint, retelling a section of narrative, formal letter of complaint – rather than complex genres that need lots of teaching eg newspapers, explanatory texts
  • Simple tasks will enable cognitive load to be kept to a minimum and allow children to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding
  • Simple tasks will enable teachers to skilfully identify what children have retained during home schooling and offer a baseline moving forward.
I hope that this article helps to refine your post-lockdown thinking. What are your plans for English post-lockdown? Join the conversation with me on twitter @EmmaAdcock4

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