Writing at St. Mary's
overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
At St. Mary’s, we endeavour to create a love for writing and the creation of texts for a purpose. As a school we believe that English skills are vital to the development of children so they are prepared for their future life. We intend our children to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively allowing their imaginations to flourish. We also intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. At St. Mary’s, we set high expectations for all our children to take pride in their work and have a fluent, cursive handwriting style.
The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum is divided into prime & specific areas of learning and development. 'Communication & Language' is one of 3 prime areas that are fundamental to supporting their language development. 'Communication & Language' is made up of the following aspects: listening and attention, understanding and speaking. ‘English' is one of 4 specific areas which include the development of essential skills and knowledge and is made up of the 2 aspects: reading & writing. Pupil provision is related to attainment, not age. Children learn through play, speaking and listening activities, teacher modelling, group work and self-direction.
Read Write Inc
In FS and KS1 we provide consistent, high quality phonics teaching through the programme Read ,Write Inc, created by Ruth Miskin, that ensures all children have a strong foundation upon which to tackle the complex processes of reading and writing. During the summer term Year 1 children begin to make the transition into a more formal English lesson where they primarily write texts that are to entertain focussing on narrative.
Teaching of writing
In English lessons across both Key Stages, teachers plan a sequence of lessons that reflects a learning journey where the children explore quality texts and have the opportunity to practice writing and reading skills. Writing tasks are specific and meaningful and meet a purpose to engage children and to illustrate how their writing skills can be applied to real life contexts. Teachers will use the Michael Tidd document to help plan which gives four main reasons for writing: to entertain, to inform, to persuade and to discuss. The focus is around a specific text which can be narrative, non-narrative or poetry based. Planning links closely with a class novel, class topic or a text that runs over several weeks. Cross-curricular links are also made with all other areas of the curriculum.
Immersion forms the biggest part of the sequence and is the most vital part to ensure our children are immersed in vocabulary. Children will be taught writing through modelling from their teacher who will use a mixture of shared and modelled writing. This will be adapted on a daily basis through the teachers’ formative assessments of the writing and needs of the children within the class. Pupils are given detailed feedback and next steps to respond to in order to personalise learning and provide the children with opportunities to edit and improve their own writing.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
From Year Two onwards, spelling is taught weekly through the programme ‘No nonsense spelling’ which allows teachers to follow a flexible approach to spelling tailored to the individual needs of their class. Key spelling strategies and rules are taught within the classroom and children receive weekly spelling lists or individualised spelling lists to learn at home. Alongside learning spelling rules and strategies they are also expected to learn the words lists as stated in the national curriculum.
Grammar and punctuation is taught through the unit of English. Lessons are carefully planned so that spelling, grammar and punctuation skills are taught, embedded, revisited and then developed in a sequential way which promotes learning and retention of knowledge and skills.
In all classrooms, an English working wall should be clearly evident. This should be up to date with the latest learning focus, complete with examples of children’s work, a WAGOLL example and there should also be an area to display prompts for SPaG. Opportunities should be taken to develop children’s vocabulary and so displays across the curriculum should display key words (topic, science) so that they can be utilised by the children as well as Vocabulary Mats, dictionaries and thesauruses being ready to use in the classroom.
Handwriting is a basic skill that influences the quality of work throughout the curriculum. At the end of Key Stage 2 all pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy joined-up handwriting, and to understand the different forms of handwriting used for different purposes. It should be an automatic process that does not interfere with creative and mental thinking. Handwriting is a cross-curriculum task and will be taken into consideration during all lessons. Formal teaching of handwriting is carried out regularly and systematically to ensure Key Stage targets are met.
Pupils will make good progress from their own personal starting points. By the end of Key Stage two they will be able to write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Our pupils will acquire a wide vocabulary and have a strong understanding of the written word. Most importantly, they will develop a love of writing and be well equipped for the rest of their education
Assessment for learning strategies are used on a daily basis. These will allow a picture to be built up of the pupils’ progress, any areas of strength or weakness which can then be addressed in teachers’ planning.
Assessment of learning is completed termly. Children complete independent writing pieces separately to their unit of work, which are assessed against our writing criteria. Teachers will have a range of text types and work through the academic year that has been written independently. Analysis of the data impacts upon teachers planning so pupils’ needs can be addressed. Moderation of teacher assessment is also completed termly in order to ensure that judgements are accurate. Children will also undertake weekly spelling tests as well as half termly reading and SPaG assessments.