Writing is a key life skill which enables children to express themselves as thinkers and learners and communicate their ideas, views and feelings with the world around them. It is our aim to ensure that all children develop a healthy and enthusiastic attitude towards writing that will enable them to become independent, creative and confident writers.
Learners must develop many skills in order to become effective writers: knowledge of how spoken language translates to the written word; accurate use of sentence structure, grammar and punctuation; an awareness of purpose and audience across different genres; an ability to edit and evaluate their work and competency in spelling and handwriting.
At St Anne’s Primary School, we provide a stimulating curriculum and rich learning environment that supports and encourages growth of thinking and communication skills and allows all pupils to develop as writers to their full potential.
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development and understanding
As a school, we recognise how a child’s language development is key to their spiritual, moral, social and cultural growth. We believe that in written language, not only do children communicate their knowledge, ideas and feelings, but also structure and make sense of their own experiences; in this sense, language is a tool for thinking and learning about both themselves and the diverse world around them. With this understanding, we ensure that as part of English and Cross Curricular writing experiences, the children are given the opportunity to explore moral values, emotions and beliefs from a variety of different cultures, viewpoints and periods of social history. Writing and the associated activities are often based on literature with strong moral, and cultural themes where the children are encouraged to work co-operatively, respecting each other’s views and reinforcing the school values. Lessons can involve discussing and debating social issues, exploring dilemmas and using drama to empathise and reflect.
How we teach writing
In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) children develop early writing skills through fine motor opportunities and early mark making. Our daily provision enables children to express themselves through drawing, writing and painting. As children develop these skills they begin to break the flow of speech into words and use their phonic knowledge to write phonetically. Children are encouraged to talk about and celebrate their work with adults and their peers.
Children are taught writing skills in daily English lessons, underpinned by the National Curriculum. English is studied using high-quality shared texts (both fiction and non-fiction) where sequences of lessons are planned to include regular opportunities to apply and practise writing skills across a range of subjects and situations. Additional opportunities for writing are also provided through termly Big Bang introductions to topics, the Creative Curriculum, Foundation Stage topics and through writing focus days such as Everybody Writes Day. Children learn grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, text organisation and compositional skills which are then applied through a variety of different learning opportunities: specific focussed grammar activities; teacher modelled writes; whole class shared writing; guided writing groups; scaffolded tasks and drafting and editing.
Short burst, extended and cross curricular examples of writing are recorded in English Writing books. Work is regularly self- edited and improved using purple polishing pens and assessed against success criteria by pupils, peers and teachers. English lessons involve a variety of different skills linked to the age related expectations in writing and the school learning to learn characteristics. Learning opportunities include exploring different text types, drama, speaking and listening, note making, planning, drafting, proof reading, editing and redrafting. Typical lessons involve a grammar or vocabulary focused introduction, whole class, paired and group discussion work, independent learning tasks and a plenary to assess the learning or introduce the next steps to learning.
To raise the profile of writing across school and within the wider community, visitors and trips connected to writing are arranged whenever possible. Able writers are encouraged to attend enrichment days and authors are regularly welcomed to work with classes.
Vocabulary, Punctuation and Grammar
Part of the teaching of writing focuses on the development of vocabulary, punctuation and grammar skills in line with National Curriculum guidance. These basic writing skills are developed on a regular basis, to improve learners’ confidence and competence in understanding and using specific grammar and punctuation terminology. Learning takes place through both discreet whole lessons on grammar, punctuation and vocabulary and through a wide range of games and short written introduction activities. In particular, an emphasis has been placed on encouraging children to build up an exciting bank of words, in order to enhance their writing and to nurture a love of interesting and ambitious vocabulary.
In Year 2 and 6, children undertake external Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling assessments whilst in Years 3, 4 and 5 internal tests are used to track progress.
Skills and SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) books are used for recording grammar, punctuation and text organisation / composition focused work.
Handwriting and Spelling
Throughout all writing opportunities, high quality cursive handwriting and effective use of dyslexia- friendly spelling strategies are promoted. In EYFS pre-cursive handwriting is taught which is developed into cursive handwriting throughout Key Stage 1. Children up to Year 6 write in handwriting pen for English once they have been awarded a pen licence. In Year 6 all children write in pen except in mathematics.
Extra-curricular writing opportunities are organised within school to allow enthusiastic writers greater opportunities to ‘put pen to paper’ including creative writing clubs and writing for the school newspaper ‘Scoop.’
How we celebrate Writing
To promote high standards and raise self-esteem in writing across the school, work is regularly displayed and celebrated in a variety of ways including use of team points, class rewards and awarding a weekly Star Writer. Excellent examples of work are shared within and across classes whenever possible and selected writing examples are displayed in the writing gallery for parents and visitors to view in school. Themes covered in English and writing can also be the focus of class assemblies and other shared learning opportunities.
Children have agreed genre specific and independent writing targets which they are expected to focus on in their learning. These are monitored by the teacher and pupil on a regular basis and new targets set when necessary according to individual needs.
The Age Related Expectations are used to assess each child’s progress and attainment in writing four times a year. Writing is moderated internally by class teachers, across phases, as a whole school and externally within the Phoenix Hub, to ensure a consistent approach to assessing standards. Assessment results are entered onto SIMS to track progress across the school. Children’s progress is formally reported to parents/carers during consultation evenings twice a year and in an annual report sent home in the summer term. In Years 2 and 6, writing is additionally assessed against the National Curriculum Teachers’ Assessment Framework in Term 6 and reported externally.