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Year 6 – Mr Polak


Year six

 Welcome back!

Autumn welcome letter 2018

Our topic this term is: Africa

Our key questions will be:

What happened during the ‘scramble for Africa’?

How has Europe changed in attitude towards the continent of Africa? What ideas remain from colonial times?

How do the stories we teach children reflect our culture?

Is Africa fairly treated?

Topic web

I am so excited to welcome you to our new project, all based on Africa. The storytelling comparisons alone between our continents could occupy us all year. The richness and diversity of such a vast continent means we have to be very selective in what we study- you can’t study all of ‘Africa’!

We will be focusing on Europe’s colonial ambitions for Africa around the turn of the 20th century and move towards modern times to consider how (and if) attitudes towards Africa have changed. We will challenge the traditional reductive view of a collection of tribes to see how Africa is seen as an economic and cultural power. We will also consider whether colonial attitudes engendered by the writers of the time remain in how 21st century writers speak  about the world’s second biggest continent, home to well over a billion people.



Great readers make great writers. We want to see as many children as possible reading five times a week.  There’s a lovely study where children who read about brave characters exhibited more courage than previously. There are so many links to improving calmness, mental health and resilience through regular reading. Of course, you also improve in terms of reading itself!

If you need any help achieving 5 reads a week, please ask me for tips. The best tip is to turn your reading time into a collective time as a family. Everyone has a book and everyone spends ten minutes reading it. Children don’t listen to us- they imitate us.

Here is Mr Pleasance’s powerpoint which is really useful when talking about asking different types of questions. Our focus will be to evidence our inferences using modal verbs of possibility. When children answer your questions, do they say it definitely is the case when they mean it could be the case?


Mathematics is the music of reason,

James Joseph Sylvester

Gosh Africa is huge. The natural resources buried in beneath the feet of Africans are abundant and incredibly valuable. Yet Africa has all ten of the poorest countries in the world. We will look at how Africa is seeking to harness its natural resources and some of the reasons behind its poverty. In these poorest ten countries, the average person earns less than £600 per year.

If you’re looking to help at home- here are some things we’ll need to practise:

•Formal methods of multiplication and division

•Times tables

•Drawing fractions- can you draw what happens to 1/5 when it is added to 1/2?


We will be looking at how cultures have evolved their storytelling but also what has stayed the same through millennia of camp fires and elders telling folk tales. We’ll read lots of these but we’ll write our own, too. We’ll make sure we have a campfire, some marshmallows (or equivalent) and read these to each other, too. 

We’ll also be reading some of David Livingstone’s journals as he opposed the slave trade and put pressure on some in Britain to change their attitudes towards colonialism. His journey is absorbing and illuminating, so we’ll be looking at the difference between the circumstances of his birth in Scotland and his death in a tribal village in Zambia.

Spellings will come home every week with individualised lists, bu the statutory spelling list is at the bottom of the page.

If you haven’t worked with me before, know that I am serious when I say I will answer questions at any hour. Email me if you can’t catch me in the mornings or make an appointment with the office and I will always endeavor to see you with urgency. I cannot wait to get started with this fabulous class and I always want to do the very best for your children. If you have any concerns, share them so we can work together. Children only have one education, so let’s not waste any time in making sure it is what they deserve: ambitious, well-rounded and very (very) interesting.

I’m looking forward to working with you,

Dan Polak

Spelling list We’ll be trying to use every single one of these words throughout the year to make sure we’ve seen them and understand them!

The writing assessment frame will be in everyone’s books as a guide to the skills we want to have mastered by the end of the year. It looks like this: