Professor Alice Deignan quoted in Times Educational Supplement on the 'word gap' between primary and secondary school pupils

The article summarises findings from the 2020 Oxford Language Report “Bridging the Word Gap at Transition”.

The report features research from Linguistic Challenges of the Transition from Primary to Secondary School which is an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project led by Professor Deignan and colleagues from the School of Education.

The Times Educational Supplement (TES) article states that the transition from primary school to secondary school is an exciting yet daunting time for many young pupils, and the difficulties of the move between the two stages are recognised by teachers and parents. Yet despite efforts made to ensure pupils are prepared for the move, many still struggle with the language they’re expected to use and understand at secondary level. This knowledge gap is referred to as a ‘word gap’ which is explored in greater depth within the Oxford Language Report 2020.

The article reveals, by summarising the key findings from the report, that the dramatic increase in the language that pupils have to handle as they make their move into secondary school classrooms can have the potential to damage the progress of pupils at the vulnerable point of primary and secondary transition. “In an average day at secondary school, pupils are exposed to three or four times as much language as at primary school, purely in terms of quantity” according to Professor Deignan’s research as featured in the report.

“It is a clarion call for concentrating our efforts and attention on bridging the word gap at perhaps its most vulnerable point: the primary to secondary transition” concludes the article.