The power and impact of ability to talk fluently and expressively on children’s learning became clear when, in the space of nine years, Ros assessed over 22,000 pieces of writing in the course of her work and in building The Criterion Scale for Assessment of Writing.

There was a clear correlation between those children who failed to score many ticks on aspects of writing like fluency, expression, ambitious vocabulary, range of connectives used, and so on – and the districts or socio-economic backgrounds of the community OR the fact that they were in the early stages of learning in English as an additional language.


Ros worked for many years in schools with children from challenging backgrounds and knew that their ability to express themselves in both talk and writing was below that of most children from more privileged communities, but she had not seen consistent and clear evidence in what could almost have been seen as a research project in its own right, if the purposes had not been more specific – the accurate assessment of children’s writing abilities. This revelation, which was – at the end of the day – common sense and not surprising, did lead to more reading into research on the subject.


It was when Ros met the work of Doctor Todd Risley, Professor Emeritus in the USA, that her eyes were opened. He gave Ros the ability to quote statistics on language and acquisition of vocabulary that she had not met before. During the first decade of the 21st century, Ros found she was a lone voice talking about the importance and impact of planned and fluent talk, the acquisitions of an ever widening and challenging vocabulary and the importance of repeated composition of interesting sentence structures through talk.

Get in touch to ask Ros a question about talking, writing, or anything educational.

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