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Just before you dash off on in search of summer sunshine or simply slump into a comfy chair at the end of term, we'd like to give you a taster of our Conference, complete with video, and a grammatical correction for Mr Gove.
NATE Conference was a sold-out success in York a couple of weeks ago. There's now plenty online to enjoy, whether you were there or couldn't make it this time. The vibrant sessions ranged from simulated sword-fights with the RSC to fascinating insights into the complexities of grammar - as well as encounters with Dick Turpin and Moll Flanders. In his keynote address, Professor Ron Carter illustrated new insights into spoken English with corpus lines for the the use of 'absolutely', thereby providing the resounding (and entirely unscripted) answer to the Chair's question on the final day: 'Have you enjoyed yourselves?' 'Absolutely!'
The Conference area on the Network is open to all, though only NATE members, of course, can contribute and some areas may be restricted to workshop members. Here are some highlights:
Ron Carter's address at Conference, as well as the workshops on grammar for writing and A Level language, provided handy ammunition when NATE Chair Simon Gibbons came to rebut the accusation from Michael Gove that NATE argues 'it is oppressive to teach children grammar'. The claim by the Secretary of State came in a report in the Daily Telegraph of a speech to head teachers of independent academy schools. In his reply, Simon wrote:
If I have objections, it is to a decontextualised approach to the study of grammar that reduces the subject to knowing names of parts of speech and identifying these in random sentences. The overwhelming research evidence - and there is much - suggests that such an approach does nothing to improve children's own abilities as language users.
The full text of Simon's reply was printed in the Telegraph and can be found on the NATE site along with links to our Grammar for Writing Schemes of Work (free to NATE members), resources from the Conference workshop on grammar and the best-selling NATE Grammar Book.
Simon concludes by expressing the hope that Mr Gove 'will consider working with Associations like ours'. He was asked this very question in person by NATE in January. His answer? 'Absolutely! I'd love... your own subject association and others who care about reading and literacy and literature to engage.' So that's absolutely settled, then?
We do hope term ends on a good note for you all. if you have a moment, there's still be time to take part in the NATE/UKLA survey on phonics, or perhaps to book your place on the RSC's 'Worlds Together' conference at half price. There will be plenty of interesting news from NATE next term, so please keep your email address up to date. You can follow NATE on Twitter for the very latest news, too.
If you've missed an earlier edition of our newsletter, you can find them all online here.
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