Pupils 'missing out' on poetry in primary schools

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Primary schools in the UK have “limited poetry book stock” and there are “many barriers” to the teaching of poetry, with a majority of teachers feeling that they don’t have enough knowledge about poetry or experience of teaching it to do so, research has found.

According to a report in the Guardian, a survey by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) and Macmillan Children’s Books found poetry is read aloud less than once a week in 93% of primary schools. In nearly 20% of schools, children never have the opportunity to hear a poem read aloud. While 77% of teachers said that they taught poetry at least once per school term, the survey found that nearly a quarter of schools teach poetry only once a year or less, partly due to a lack of training and support for teachers.

The research is the first major look at poetry in primary schools since Poetry in Schools by Ofsted in 2007. CLPE and Macmillan’s research asked teachers – with responses primarily from England, but also a small number from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and internationally – about their experience of teaching poetry, including their attitudes to it, how much they know about poets and anthologies and how it is incorporated into a teaching day.

The research found that teachers’ knowledge of children’s poets had “not moved on” in the 16 years since the Ofsted report. Only current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, Valerie Bloom and Julia Donaldson are new additions in this survey; the other poets named by teachers – Michael Rosen, Benjamin Zephaniah, Spike Milligan, Roger McGough, Roald Dahl and Allan Ahlberg – were all also named in the 2007 survey. “Many of the poets mentioned were poets that teachers would have been likely to encounter in their own schooling,” the survey found.

The most well-known poem by teachers was Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen, as performed by him on YouTube.

One former primary school headteacher said she was “very surprised” by the findings of the survey. She added: “I would count nursery rhymes as poetry, and I’m sure there isn’t a reception class in the country that doesn’t read out nursery rhymes to its pupils.”

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Thu 16th Mar 2023 11:00

So, primary schools in the UK have “limited poetry book stock” and there are “many barriers” to the teaching of poetry...surprise, surprise!

Given the attacks on the Humanities funding over the last few decades...the knock on effect will be an even more "limited poetry book stock", and even more barriers to the teaching of poetry especially if the politically correct Poetry Thought Police continue to have their way.


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