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Miranda is a Primary Supply Teacher working in schools  through Protocol Education in Manchester. Today's blog is an amusing and interesting rant regarding her frustrations with VCOP. Do you agree?


Am I the only person who finds VCOP (vocab, connectives, openers, punctuation) a toxic introduction to fluency with the English language? One that weighs down less able students like a pair of concrete shoes and teaches tick-boxing and easy-peasy teacher-pleasing to the more able.

I understand that the Primary Curriculum demands specific boxes to be ticked for children to have been seen to achieve at its various levels. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but this is the world we live in and are accountable for as teachers. I appreciate all that – I too have urged children to lob ugly hand grenades of ‘moreovers’ and  ‘neverthelesses’ into their writing. And yet it’s just so damn sad to see an entire class of thirty children penning the clunky learning objective ‘I understand the features of a non-chronological report,’ (What the heck’s a non-chron report? Does anyone actually use the term in r.l?) then spending an hour writing a 

page of paragraphs which all begin with ‘Secondly’ and terminate with ‘At last.’

There are children who cry to stay at home with Mummy on Big Write mornings. I can understand how they feel.

Try our VCOP pyramid today!! Screams the internet. More Amazing Wow words for YOU to use in class!! I think the problem is that there’s a big, humungous, massive disconnect (as a Level 3 literacy achiever might say) between an off-the-peg approach to writing and the wonderful, amazing, superb experience of discovering vocabulary for yourself and exploring texts to discover the nuts and bolts that make them tick.

Instead of putting words and objectives on a serving platter and asking children to blind taste them, surely we need to help plant ideas about what makes effective writing, and encourage children to grow their own skills and understanding of literacy. Primary science is taught effectively in this way. Why not English?

Does a wonderful, amazing, exemplary sentence really have to contain two or more adjectives preceding a noun?  I wonder whether this genera

tion of learners will ever get the chance to re-discover the possibilities of the English language before they ditch the subject at the earliest opportunity, on account of its turgidity?

Of course, I don’t have the answers. We’ve all got to learn the building blocks of how to write or end up with handwriting like mine – think junior doctor after a 20-hour shift in A and E. But wouldn’t more space devoted to exploring and understanding exemplary texts in primary school, make brilliant, lovely, amazing sense?

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Tags: Miranda, Supply Teacher, Teach in Manchester, VCOP, Writing, Primary Curriculum

Category: Australian Teachers

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