At Thomas Whitehead CE Academy, our intent behind the teaching of writing is to ensure that, by the time each child leaves our school, they are able to communicate their thoughts and ideas clearly, accurately and coherently through their writing. This means that they will be able to write with fluency for a range of audiences and purposes where they are able to adapt the formality, tone and vocabulary that they use depending on the context. We also want our children to want to see writing as an enjoyable experience.
The National Curriculum has two main foci for the teaching and learning of writing:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)
Our Implementation of the Teaching and Learning of Writing
Our children participate in a one hour, daily English lesson where the teaching and learning is book based i.e. a specific book is chosen depending on the style of writing and grammar that the children are going to be learning in each unit. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. A book curriculum allows the teachers to personalise lessons by choosing novels and authors to engage and excite their class.
In addition to this, the opportunities, organisation and provision for the teaching and learning of writing are as follows:
As a result, we have a dedicated approach to the teaching and learning of phonics and spelling (see Phonics and Spelling Overview). The EYFS and KS1 teach phonics on a daily basis where as KS2 teach at least one thirty minute spelling session every week. Key vocabulary, relating to all areas of the curriculum, are displayed on working walls within every classroom. Spelling rules and conventions are regularly revised during English lessons.
We have a whole school approach to handwriting which starts from Reception. Children are taught that all letters have an entry and exit stroke and that they should sit on the line. All children are expected to write using formal cursive script which means that their writing is consistently joined. This enables our children to write fluently, more speedily and more legibly. Teachers are also asked to model cursive handwriting during lessons and when marking children’s work.
Composition: Planning, Writing and Editing
Before they even start writing, teachers ensure that the children are provided with a modelled text i.e. a good example of the type of writing that they are learning. This modelled text is then used by the teacher and children to generate the success criteria with specific examples for their own writing.
In UKS2, the children have ‘writing journals’ where they are allowed to write down ideas or practise a particular skill that they would like to add to their writing. This allows children who particularly do not like redrafting the opportunity to ‘have a go’ or change their mind before writing in their English book.
Throughout the different years, the children are deliberately taught different ways of planning e.g. boxing up, skeleton plans etc. so that by the time that they get to UKS2 they are able to plan independently in their preferred style.
During the planning, writing and redrafting phases, the children are supported by the modelled text, shared writing, the success criteria with examples, word banks and visual prompts e.g. pictures. The children are increasingly taught to become more independent in their thinking and in the resources that they use e.g. getting a thesaurus in order to make a better word choice. Additionally, children of all ages are encouraged to verbalise sentences before they record them in writing. This is done through paired discussion, with a talk partner or an adult, and helps children to compose grammatically accurate sentences.
As a school, we are beginning to introduce a whole school approach to the teaching of editing and redrafting (see Editing Protocol). This will make sure that there is a consistent approach across the school so that the children are taught the skills that they need to edit and redraft effectively.
Composition: Awareness of Audience, Purpose and Structure
Initially, teachers will direct the children to write for a particular purpose, explain to them who the intended audience is and the structure that they will need to write in. However, as the children become more independent writers, they are expected to be able to do this on their own.
Firstly, the children are asked to identify the purpose of their writing:
- to entertain
- to inform
- to persuade or argue
- to explain
Once they have identified a purpose the children can then identify the audience. This will allow the children to determine the style and formality in which they will need to write as well as the authorial techniques that they will need to include.
Finally, the children will then need to decide on a structure e.g. if they are writing a story to entertain, they will need to write in paragraphs.
Composition: Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation
Effective composition involves 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. As a result, every English lesson also has a dedicated grammar, punctuation, vocabulary or spelling focus (GPVS). The aim of explicitly teaching GPVS is so that the children have the opportunity to revise previously taught concepts and so that they are able to start embedding them in their writing.
All children in EYFS and KS1 are taught Phonics every day using Little Wandle, and where necessary as an intervention in KS2 (see Phonics and Spelling Overview). This is used as the basis for early writing i.e. children use their phonic knowledge to write letters and words that match their spoken words. Our aim of emergent writing is that children begin to understand that writing is a form of communication and their marks on paper convey a message.
We achieve this by:
- teaching the children to identify and then start writing their name
- asking the children to use their fingers to form the shapes of the letters or sounds
- having writing stations
- offering them interesting tools
- offering unique writing experiences relating to their learning
Our Impact of Writing
Through our approach to the teaching of writing, our children will be able to use their writing to communicate effectively. They will leave primary school being able to write for a range of purposes and audiences by adapting the structure, grammar and vocabulary that they use. More importantly, we will have embedded a love of writing and skills that the children will be able to use and build on in the future.
Statutory Writing Assessments
At the end of KS1, in Year 2, and at the end of KS2, in Year 6, teachers are required to make a statutory teacher assessment of every child’s writing. The writing will be assessed by their class teacher and could be moderated by the local authority. Teachers make their judgements based on the Teacher Assessment Frameworks at the end of KS1 and KS2 provided by the Standards and Testing Agency. Teachers are allowed to use a range of evidence of writing from any area of the curriculum.
No More Marking – Comparative Judgements
At Thomas Whitehead CE Academy, we are a No More Marking – Comparative Judgement school. Comparative Judgement is a process where judges compare two responses and decide which is better. Following repeated comparisons, the resulting data is statistically modelled and responses placed on a scale of relative quality. Research has shown the process to be as reliable as double marking, but much quicker.
Children from Year 1 to Year 6 complete one open-ended writing task every year. These yearly assessments enable our teachers to reliably benchmark every child’s performance and track their progress against national averages in writing.
Children from Year 1 to Year 6 also have their progress in writing routinely assessed three times a year – Autumn Term, Spring Term and Summer Term.
Useful Web Links
Parents are encouraged to use the following websites to support their children’s learning of writing: