No Pens Day Wednesday

Pens down, speak up! It’s #NoPensDay Wednesday

Today (4th October, 2017) is No Pens Day Wednesday, a day dedicated to showcasing the importance of speech, language and communication within the classroom, encouraging schools and settings to put down their pens and to run a day of speaking and listening activities. With the first No Pens Day being held in 2011, the event is now in its seventh year, and more popular than ever; in 2016 we had over 5,700 schools signed up, resulting in combined pupil numbers of an estimated 1.75 million pupils!

All of the resources schools and settings need to run their No Pens Day are available on The Communication Trust website and will remain available all year round. Once signed up, teachers have access to a wide range of resources including lesson plans, activity ideas, assembly presentations and promotional materials. Each of these resources has been developed in collaboration with mainstream staff and expert speech and language therapists.

Over the years it’s been fantastic to see schools putting their own spin on the day. For example, Holy Trinity Primary School in West Yorkshire, chose to focus their No Pens Day on science and scientific vocabulary:

“The reason that we chose to have this specific focus was because we had noticed that as children grew older, they seemed to struggle more and more with maths and science. Part of the reason for this is because the vocabulary changes in these subjects. The majority of our pupils have English as an additional language, and as a result during our No Pens Day Wednesday we wanted to get them using scientific vocabulary as much as possible so that it becomes more familiar to them, as many of the terms are not ones that the children would use on a day to day basis.”

Aside from being a really fun and interactive day, there are many important reasons why a day like No Pen’s Day Wednesday could benefit children and young people:

  • Strong language skills and good communication are key to whole school improvement, progression and attainment and supporting children and young people to develop these skills is vital.
  • Good spoken language skills are strong predictors of later academic success – children with poor language and literacy development at five are at substantial risk of low achievement at seven and beyond.
  • 83% of staff who participated said that taking part in No Pens Day Wednesday raised their awareness of pupil’s speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and one in four reported they identified pupils who were struggling with spoken language that they had not previously identified.

Those taking part have also said that despite not using pens during the day, the event has directly led to an improvement in their pupils’ writing skills. Ormiston Forge Academy, a secondary school in the West Midlands, said the following:

“During the day, the pupils watched (and subsequently discussed) a video about an Italian boy called Joey debating whether he should migrate from the poorer south to the more affluent north. In a subsequent assessment on the topic, a few of our children who were predicted level 5s at the start of the year attained level 7s, with some of them managing to write over four sides of writing! It seems that being able to verbalise and talk through some of the key points on No Pens Day meant that they had a clearer, more structured idea of what they wanted to write.”

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills have previously said that employers now rate communication skills as their highest priority, above even qualifications – it is therefore essential that children and young people are given as much support as possible in honing these essential life skills.

You can run your day whenever suits you best – the resources stay on the site all year round. So what are you waiting for? Get on the No Pens Day website and sign up to access the suite of free resources and activities!

You can also follow the #NoPensDay hashtag on Twitter to see photos and stories of participating schools.