‘English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.’ (National Curriculum, 2013)
Our Curriculum Intent for Writing
Our overarching aim for English, and in this case specifically writing, is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word.
We aim to enable children to:
- Enjoy English and to study it with a sense of achievement and an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- Develop a range of spelling strategies and apply them in independent work
- Develop a fluent, legible handwriting style and to take care with the presentation of their work
- Be able to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, and to think critically
- Develop the ability to look critically at their work, edit, redraft and improve it.
The English curriculum at Avening Primary School is built around the statutory content of the 2014 National Curriculum and the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. English is a core subject; the National Curriculum programmes of study include spoken language, reading (words), reading (comprehension), writing (transcription - spelling), writing (handwriting), writing (composition) and writing (vocabulary, grammar and punctuation). Expectations are set out on a year-by-year basis in the National Curriculum.
Writing – transcription (spelling)
In the EYFS and Key Stage 1, spellings are taught through our daily phonics sessions (see the ‘Phonics’ information on the website for further details).
From Year 2, children have short, regular spelling lessons – usually four times a week. These sessions may include the teaching of handwriting. During spelling sessions, spelling rules are explicitly taught, including adding prefixes and suffixes, as well as the spelling of common exception words listed in the National Curriculum 2014. As far as possible, children work within the year group they are in, so that gaps in learning are closed.
At Avening Primary School, the common exception words for each phase are colour coded (Rainbow Words) and teachers ensure that these are covered during the spelling sessions. In Key Stage 2, children are given spellings as part of their Share and Learn and are tested in class regularly.
From Key Stage 2, dictionaries and thesauruses begin to be used in class and children are taught how to use them effectively, including as a tool to aid their ability to self-correct and improve work.
Where spelling needs are identified, children may be given additional intervention. This could include precision teaching, Dancing Bears or Nessy.
At Avening Primary School, we recognise the importance of teaching children a fluent, joined, legible and fast handwriting style which enables them to write with ease. We consider handwriting to be a key basic skill and it is explicitly taught as part of the English curriculum in all phases. Children are taught a precursive, then cursive style that leads to producing letters and words fluently and accurately in independent writing.
Effective teaching of handwriting can only be achieved through modelling. Teachers and support staff are expected to demonstrate letter formation and joins regularly, and children should practice by carefully copying and repeating. It is important to observe children writing to ensure they are forming letters correctly.
Teachers and support staff are expected to put a high value on teaching and sustaining good handwriting. We believe that children’s self-esteem and pride in their work can be raised by good quality presentation.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage a precursive style is taught. A cursive style is taught from Year 1. This is in line with National Curriculum guidance. Specific letter forms meet the following criteria:
- They should help children’s handwriting to be clear, fluent, legible and fast
- Each individual lower case letter begins from the main writing line
- Each lower case letter is taught with both a lead-in and a lead-out stroke. This is to help avoid confusion in young children about whether to begin a letter at the top or the bottom. It has also proved to be beneficial for children with poor hand control and for dyslexic children.
- The joined lower case letters should, where possible, resemble closely their printed counterparts. Letters such as ‘s’ should have the same form wherever they occur in a word, thus reducing the amount that children need to relearn
- It is possible to join all lower case letters. One letter (‘f’) changes from the precursive to the cursive phase in order to encourage a more fluent hand
- The pen or pencil should need to be lifted from the page as little as possible when linking lower case letters in words, thus reinforcing the patterning of joined movements within letter strings as an aid to memorising phonic and spelling patterns
Children are taught good posture and correct grip work alongside the script and regular checks are made during writing activities to ensure children maintain this. In Year 2, once handwriting is fluent and consistently joined, pen licences are issued and children are given a handwriting pen.
Continuity from EYFS through Key Stages 1 and 2 is vitally important. An agreed ‘patter’ is used for helping children to recall the required movement for each letter.
During handwriting lessons, children may be encouraged to assess their own work in simple ways: circling their best letter/ horizontal join/ word after completing a line of handwriting, using a ruler to identify inconsistent letter size across the line etc. This encourages children to take ownership of their learning and undertake further practise in identified areas.
Writing – composition, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
A high priority is placed on the teaching of writing across the school and we believe that good quality writing should be seen across the curriculum.
From Year 1, a long term plan for writing indicates text type, writing outcomes, the punctuation and grammar focus for each year group, short tasks and cross-curricular opportunities. This plan is linked to the two-year rolling programme of curriculum themes, so that most written tasks are thematically based. Quality literature is always our starting point and some of the texts we use in writing come from our Reading Spine – our core offer of some of the best literature to which all children at our school should have access. Within each short term, a narrative and non-fiction text type is usually covered, as well as a poetry unit each seasonal term.
Targets for the term are shared with children and parents from Key Stage 1, providing an overview of our expectations in writing for the year.
A range of text types are taught across each Key Stage. These may include:
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 2
Our approach is based around the principles of Pie Corbett’s ‘Talk for Writing’, enabling children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and writing their own version. Through rehearsing the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show the children how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style.
Texts which reflect the grammar and punctuation to be taught are used. This may mean teachers adapt texts where necessary to reflect the grammatical knowledge being taught. Grammar and punctuation skills are purposefully woven into the learning journey.
Each writing journey, lasting two to three weeks, has three key stages:
- The imitation stage
Children should be helped to internalise the pattern of language required, usually by talking an exemplar text, supported visually by a text map – drawn by the teacher or the children. Physical movements, particularly in the early stages, are used to help the children recall the story or the non-fiction piece.
The children should read the text, reading as-a-reader, developing comprehension skills. (Guided reading style questions will form part of the learning journey in the writing book. Questions should include those which focus on an author’s use of grammar or punctuation, as well as inference and vocabulary choice.) Activities such as drama, hot-seating and role-on-the-wall may be used.
The children should read the text, reading as-a-writer, analysing the features of the text and co-constructing the Steps to Success for the genre. Texts should be annotated by children and stuck into books. Boxing-up techniques or backward planning may be used to support the children in understanding the structure of a text. Key words or phrases are ‘magpied’ either in books or on Learning Wall.
Usually, children will rewrite the original text, using their text map, enabling them to practise their grammar, spelling and punctuation skills.
Before the children write their own text, ‘workshop’ style activities are used to practise grammar, punctuation and stylistic devices. These short focused tasks have clear success criteria which will be used in main written outcome at the end of the learning journey.
Planning – Children may be asked to adapt text maps and orally rehearse what they want to say. Alternatively, a boxed-up grid may be used (innovating the exemplar plan). Teachers may model planning the text, then turning the plan into writing, as well as demonstrate how to regularly read their own work aloud to see if it works, in order to develop the children’s ability to judge why one word or phrase is best – considering impact on the reader.
3. Independent application
The children write their own texts and are given time to edit and redraft their work.
EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE
Within the EYFS, the prime area of ‘Communication and Language’ (Listening and Attention, Understanding, Speaking) runs through and supports all other areas of learning, including the specific area of ‘Literacy’ (Reading and Writing).
Writing is taught in a similar way to Key Stage 1, with a narrative providing the focus for provision. Through a ‘Talk for Writing’ approach, the children learn a text, supported by story maps and actions, then spend time practising writing words and phrases from the text, depending on the children’s phonics abilities. The text is then innovated, and a new text written. Phonic knowledge is promoted throughout the learning journey, as well as letter formation and basic punctuation – capital letters, full-tops and finger spaces.
In addition, continuous provision is resourced to ensure that prerequisite skills for reading and writing are developed, including gross and fine motor skills.
- Engage in activities requiring hand-eye coordination and activities to support crossing the midline
- Use one-handed tools and equipment
- Draw lines and circles using gross motor movement
- Manipulate objects with increasing control
- Begin to use anticlockwise movement and retrace vertical lines
- Begin to form recognisable letters and digits 0-9, using the correct sequence of movements, using patter from Read, Write, Inc.
- Begin to use a pencil and hold it effectively to form recognisable letters, for the 26 lower case letters
Throughout the Foundation Stage, children need lots of opportunities to develop:
- Physical control through large-scale movement such as outdoor play, balancing, climbing, marching and moving to music
- Manipulative skills such as using tools, cooking utensils and scissors
- Fine motor control and hand-eye coordination, through activities such as jigsaws, threading, construction, cutting and manipulating ‘small world’ equipment
Mark-making and writing is encouraged throughout the provision. Story-scribing is also used by practitioners to encourage children as authors.
We are proud of the quality of writing achieved across the school. Here we are sharing our achievements with our parents at a recent Celebration Assembly in the Classroom.