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Hatton Park

Primary School

Powerful Words

Can you fill the missing gaps with the words below?


Teaching brings many ********; one of the biggest perhaps is how we make best use of the ******** time that young people have with us. Against a seemingly ever-growing *********  of knowledge and skills that we want to ****** upon them, it can be hard to know where best to start.








They won’t solve everything, but they do seem a good place to start.

To borrow the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world. The limits of my understanding, and the limits of my chance to respond, to engage, and to be heard."


But here comes the next conundrum: there’s 470,000 words in the English Language, so where on earth do we start selecting which ones we should teach to our students?


The work of Professor Averil Coxhead, an academic from Australia, comes in very useful indeed.  In 2000, she published the ‘Academic Word List’: a list of 570 words that appear frequently in all academic texts, from across all subject areas.  Words such as ‘concept’, and ‘contextualise’.  The type of words that are not common in everyday writing or speech, but are common in school textbooks, exam papers, broadsheet newspapers and so on.  They’re the type of words that allow our students to have a seat around all sorts of different tables in their future.


They’re Powerful Words, which is why we teach them in every one of our Meridian Trust Schools.


Powerful Words in the Meridian Trust & at Hatton Park Primary School


‘Powerful Words’ is a 4 year programme that explicitly teaches 2 words each week from the Academic Word List, with the aim that by the time students leave Yr 6 they will have acquired at least 300 of the 570 word hoard.


The benefits to students are clear, but the professional development benefits for our staff are also hugely significant.  Through the training and teaching resources we’ve provided through each school’s English Lead, teachers have developed an enriched understanding of evidence informed strategies that best help students to learn and retain new vocabulary, such as etymology (the history of word origins), morphology (the structure of words), and collocations (the other words that they are most likely paired with in a sentence). The aim is for this pedagogy to cascade out of Powerful Words sessions and into learning across all subjects. Just as the meaning and shape of words evolve over time, so too will this programme continue to grow as our family of schools embrace its potential.

For more information on our Powerful Words Programme and other Literacy schemes across the Trust, please visit: