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February 2021 - Year 23 - Issue 1

ISSN 1755-9715

New Title from Crown House: Emotional Literacy

What’s the key to nurturing more grounded, engaged and intrinsically motivated children?

The secret lies in building their emotional literacy.

Disadvantaged children have fallen even further behind during lockdown, thereby widening the already gaping attainment gap. Richard Evans shares a methodology for closing that gap in his timely new book Independent Thinking on Emotional Literacy.

As he so eloquently says, “How do you even start to master school when you can barely master yourself? When you’ve not yet worked out how to look after a worksheet. When you’re still trying to remember to bring in your lunch. When you’re always tired at school because you can’t sleep at night. When you can’t remember to take in your homework. When you don’t know how to do it. When other children are clearly more popular. When you feel lonely and bullied and different in a way that the school powers that be, the dominant minority, won’t forgive. When you start each school day being nagged or undermined or both – even though you think you’re doing your best. When you feel like you’re failing. When you’re scared and falling. How would anyone, when such situations are tightening their grip, stealthily like flu germs, be ready to learn?”

The passports started life as a conversation between two teachers – Richard and a colleague – who wanted to know what it was to be an able pupil. Not just able, but one of the ones who sail through their education, picking up facts and figures, certificates and commendations, grades and distinctions.

Richard’s solution involves the use of a number of ‘passports’ that he has  developed: these are A3-sized charts that teachers and pupils complete together and which lead to increased confidence, engagement and learning. They enable children to master the basics of school life so that they can better engage with learning. Without this groundwork there is little to no chance of bridging that attainment gap.

And then they moved to something more tangible: what do the pupils who cope best with school actually do? At school. At home. And in between. What exactly does a ‘coper’ look like? The coper, they decided, talks to their teachers and contributes in small groups; they work well alone and share successes; they take risks and join clubs; they carry equipment and turn up on time; they look after worksheets and hand in homework; they listen in class and reflect on their targets; they act on instructions and help others with learning. Let’s face it, they are irritatingly perfect because they even eat and sleep well, persevere in adversity and are comfortable making mistakes.

From this Richard developed 50 questions, including some about literacy, that each student would be asked to answer on a sliding scale of never to always, not at all to very much, or badly to very well indeed, thank you very much.

The result is a powerful tool to assist in engaging pupils in meaningful discussions that will help develop their self-efficacy, motivation and specific skills for successfully engaging in the world of school.

Independent Thinking on Emotional Literacy is one of a number of books in the Independent Thinking On ... series from the award-winning Independent Thinking Press, an imprint of Crown House Publishing.


Independent Thinking on Emotional Literacy:

A passport to increased confidence, engagement and learning

by Richard Evans

ISBN 9781781353738

Published 2nd November 2020


Richard Evans is a secondary school teacher with a particular interest in, and passion for, helping pupils who struggle with literacy. A former journalist, he has spent the last decade learning from pupils in lower sets and in nurture and tuition groups – and the passport is just one of the fruits of their joint labour.

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