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Congratulations to Prof. Alice Deignan and Team - ESRC Funded Project - The Linguistic Challenges of the Transition from Primary to Secondary School

Research Projects

Alice Deignan's ESRC funded project 'The Linguistic Challenges of the Transition from Primary to Secondary School' (grant ref ES/R006687/1) comes to an end this year. Colleagues Gary Chambers, Michael Inglis and Florence Oxley, and former colleagues Duygu Candarli and Robbie Love have worked with Alice on this project, as well as project partners that include five secondary schools and eight primary schools in the north of England.

In July 2019, some of the Sixth Form students from the various partner schools visited the University of Leeds for a work experience week, learning about the research, and helping us to sort and analyse teaching materials (sadly, the pandemic meant we could not offer this in later years).

This research projected has identified the nature of the language gap between primary and secondary school, and the vocabulary and structures that will be new to most children as they transition to secondary school.

Marcus Jones, Literacy Lead at Huntington Research School, York, has worked as a consultant on the project. Alice and Marcus presented findings at three ResearchED conferences for teachers and other school practitioners, and at online twilight sessions for teachers over the course of the project, and this summer, Marcus has led an intervention with Year 6 pupils at two local primary schools, introducing some of the words and phrases that the pupils will encounter in English and Geography classes when they start secondary school in September.

Alice, Duygu and Florence have written an academic book on the findings, The Linguistic Challenge of the Transition to Secondary School: A Corpus Study of Academic Language,  published by Routledge in December 2022, and plans are being developed for a practitioners' book and other materials to support teachers and students in the near future.

For more information about the work of ResearchEd, please click here.

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