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School bans pens for a day to promote speaking and listening

Chantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Hoops were used in maths to help teach students. Picture: SUE MCARDLE

Chantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Hoops were used in maths to help teach students. Picture: SUE MCARDLE

Archant

Most of us have it drilled into us to always carry a pen and note things down from an early age. But now a school in Ipswich has taken the unusual step of banning writing tools for the day - in a bid to get students to think outside of their comfort zones.

Chantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Picture: SUE MCARDLEChantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Picture: SUE MCARDLE

At first glance, the idea from Chantry Academy might seem to go against the grain of learning by taking notes to remember what teachers said in English, or work out a complex equation in science or maths.

However Sue McArdle, from the Mallard Way school, said the idea was to challenge young people to use their speaking and listening skills instead.

And even though students kept their lids on their pens for a whole day, instead holding group discussions and even using big hoops in maths classes, Ms McArdle believes No Pens Day conversely improve their writing skills once they pick up their biros again.

"We're normally asking the students where are their pens," she said. "We're really putting them out of their comfort zone.

Chantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Picture: SUE MCARDLEChantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Picture: SUE MCARDLE

"We want them to think about different ways they can commit information to memory.

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"We're trying to get them to think about how they can use talking and listening. We're giving them the confidence in voice so they have the skills employers are looking for and preparing them for the real world."

No Pens Day on Wednesday, November 13 was part of a wider drive by the Active Learning Trust school to improve talking skills.

Chantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Picture: SUE MCARDLEChantry Academy in Ipswich held a No Pens Day. Picture: SUE MCARDLE

As well as trying to give youngsters the encouragement speak up in class, the academy hopes it will give them confidence when talking to employers in future.

"A lot of employers are looking at young people generally and saying that they don't have the communication skills that they would want," Ms McArdle said.

"That's something we're really trying to drive through the school.

"Writing is important - our students are examined by writing. Lots of students have to write in every lesson. But what we're getting them to realise is that to write well, they need to talk better first.

"We're trying to get them to think about writing in a different way. If you encourage them to talk more confidently, the aim is that when they come to their writing they can do that more confidently."

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