Inspire - The Writing Curriculum
Writing is an integral part of our curriculum at Spinney Hill Primary School and, alongside oracy and reading, is a key skill which we know will create barriers for children if not mastered by the end of Year 6; therefore, every opportunity is made for children to express their ideas clearly and creatively through the written word.
We aim to equip our children through a holistic approach whereby key knowledge and a wide range of knowledge and skills are interwoven to ensure cultural literacy. We engage and motivate children through exposure to different forms and models of writing in order that they develop the aspiration to write creatively, doing so cohesively and adapting their language and style for a range of contexts.
We know the importance of children articulating ideas through communication and questioning so we have embedded evidence-based, oracy techniques across our writing curriculum. We ensure that children have a broad and rich vocabulary gained from reading, ‘talk’ and from their broader learning which is employed and embedded within their writing.
The National Curriculum objectives for writing are delivered through high-quality teaching that follows a clear teaching sequence to ensure the progression and development of skills and knowledge through coverage of a range of forms, including narrative, letters, newspapers, diaries and non-chronological reports, and within relevant and exciting contexts. Children always consider the ‘PVA’ - the purpose, viewpoint and audience – before they write and this we know contextualises writing and gives it real purpose, particularly where there is a clear oracy outcome.
We make every endeavour to ensure that the English curriculum is inclusive of all pupils through, for example, supporting writing through inclusive ‘talk for writing’ strategies; these enable all children to produce the best writing they can and to experience success. By the end of year six, children have acquired the skills necessary to write for a range of different purposes. They independently edit and improve their written work, developing their own identity and style, and are mastering the skills in grammar, punctuation and spelling which will enable them to embark confidently on the next stage of their learning.
How we teach writing at Spinney Hill
At Spinney Hill, we are committed to raising the standards of children’s writing to ensure that all children are progressing and achieving at least in line with national expectations. We do this by teaching carefully planned units of writing within our English lessons and across the wider curriculum. This ensures writing has both a real purpose and skills are developed and embedded. We are following the 2014 National Curriculum for the teaching and learning of writing skills which focuses on two strands: transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition. In all year groups, there are number of processes, skills and expectations which all children should develop throughout the year, and units of work are carefully planned and learning sequenced against an agreed structure.
In the foundation stage, the teaching of writing follows the new Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Children are given the opportunity to extend their understanding of the spoken word through play and with a focus on back-and-forth interaction and the development across all provision of specific, learning related vocabulary. All learning for writing takes place within an oracy context which both addresses the developmental needs of all children, particularly the high numbers of children with English as an additional language or who are new to English, and enables children to write simple words and phrases.
Writing in Key stage 1 and 2 is taught following the ‘I, We, You’ approach and this acts as a ‘handover’, with the teacher carefully managing the cognitive load and reducing the scaffolding, step by step. Pupils are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing at different stages of the writing journey. As they continue this journey, they develop an awareness that 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. All writing is guided by the Spinney Hill acronym: PVA. We ensure that our children write with a purpose, understand the audience they will write for and the viewpoint they are writing from which will guide the form the writing will take.
To ensure breadth and depth within the coverage of genres, a long term plan is mapped out with deliberate progression of a range of specific genres which are appropriate to the year group, focusing on less challenging genres earlier in the year, and more challenging towards the latter half of the year. Genres are revisited throughout the year so that pupils can apply the skills in different contexts. Writing skills are regularly reinforced within lessons across the wider curriculum. We use scaffolds to guide, support and structure all children’s writing, differentiating these for SEND pupils, those with specific learning needs and pupils who are currently lower attaining, and these are gradually withdrawn as children make progress. With our more able writers, opportunities are given to be as adventurous and confident as possible in their writing, and in some case write from an alternative viewpoint to the rest of the class. The context chosen for the genres both engage and challenge children to want to write; children are drawn in via an appropriate and engaging stimulus to give their writing a purpose and these come, for example, from novels, high-quality picture books, trips and visits, or from the purposeful, cross-curricular links with the broader curriculum.
Grammar and Punctuation
All children are taught discrete punctuation and grammar skills that are appropriate to the year group and text type. These skills are taught progressively to ensure children have a secure understanding. Children are encouraged to identify, practice and consolidate grammatical understanding through the reading of specific texts, and skills then developed and embedded throughout the writing journey.
Reading as a reader and reading as a writer
At Spinney Hill, we know how important it is to expose children to a range of texts in order to immerse the children in the language and structure of the piece pupils will write. After reading an example for meaning and applying their reading skills, children examine in depth a range of high quality examples/models of the same genre. They focus on the language, punctuation and grammar and discuss the impact this has on the reader. The PVA is discussed and children ‘magpie’ words and phrases that they wish to include in their expanded success criteria.
Planning, drafting, editing and publishing
During the writing journey, children plan, draft, edit and improve their writing. Teachers have high expectations for all pupils and reinforce these throughout the writing process by modelling. In Key Stage 2 teachers model on a different context or perspective to encourage greater independence. As teachers model, they ensure the language features and the effect on the reader is explicit as they write, modelling both their thoughts and the editing process out loud, and always referring back to the PVA when doing so.
Talk for writing
‘Talk for writing’ is an essential component of the writing process and all teachers ensure that talk and oracy strategies are embedded across all writing lessons. Teachers know that talk for writing is crucial to the development of ideas, grammar, syntax and vocabulary, so a variety of structured talk strategies are employed both before and during the writing journey. This gives the children the opportunity to structure and sequence their ideas and develop the necessary vocabulary and phrases they will use in their writing.