At Withycombe Primary School, we believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing. We want pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school. We want them to write clearly, accurately, coherently, and creatively, adapting their language and style for a range of meaningful contexts, purposes and audiences.
Handwriting, spelling and grammar will be explicitly taught to ensure that children are able to understand the conventions of writing and manipulate language to create effects for the reader.
We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of all their writing. From the beginning of the school, children will learn the Nelson Pre-Cursive script and will present their writing in a variety of ways and writing across a variety of genres for both English lessons and the wider curriculum. Children will acquire and learn the skills to plan, draft and refine their written work over time and are encouraged to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement in all pieces of writing.
Careful links are made across the curriculum to ensure that children’s English learning is relevant and meaningful: where possible linking our reading, writing and the topic areas that we are covering. We ensure that children develop an understanding of how widely writing is used in everyday life and, therefore, how important and useful the skills are that they are learning. Our intentions in writing are for children to:
Write for a purpose
See themselves as real writers
Take ownership of their writing
See writing as an interesting and enjoyable process
Acquire the ability to organise and plan their written work
We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the audience / reader. Particular attention is paid throughout the school to the formal structures of English: grammatical detail, punctuation and spelling. Teachers clearly model writing skills and document the learning journey through consistent working walls; guided writing sessions are used to target specific needs of both groups and individuals. Children have opportunities to write at length, in extended, independent writing sessions at the end of a unit of work – applying their taught skills to an unsupported piece of writing. Throughout the school, we teach writing through a text-based approach (following the ‘Talk for Writing’ guidance) which allows us to meet the needs of the children that we are teaching – through choosing a text that will engage, inspire and motivate. As well as reading a wide variety of genres, children are given frequent opportunities to develop their skills in writing in different genres. Pupils are taught discrete punctuation and grammar skills, appropriate to their year group, Children then apply the grammar and punctuation skills that they have learnt across each teaching sequence.
The teaching of writing (English) at Withycombe utilises Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2010). The four strands (Reviewing Material, Questioning, Explaining and Modelling and Practising) suggested by Rosenshine are embedded throughout the English curriculum, helping children to avoid overload of their short-term memories and to make connections to prior learning. This allows children to develop their own schema, committing learning to their deep processing and semantic memory. Whenever possible and suitable, our writing sessions begin with a ‘review’ activity which encourages children to retrieve and recall their prior learning, vocabulary, skills and/or knowledge. This is carefully thought-out and designed by teachers, allowing them to draw upon previous successes and content (whether in the previous lesson, the previous week, the previous term or the previous year), and to prepare children for what they are about to learn in the current teaching session. We are also careful not to overload children’s thinking by presenting them too much content in one session; using a small steps approach ensures that children can fully understand and access their learning.
It is paramount that children are rigorously taught correct letter formation from the very beginning of their time in school. During the foundation stage the children are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct position and develop a legible handwriting style. From Year One the children start to learn joined handwriting (see handwriting policy). Teachers are expected to role model the school’s handwriting style when marking children’s work, writing on the board and on displays around the school.
From Year 2, classes follow National Curriculum year group expectations for spellings for 15 minutes per day. Through exploring spelling patterns and rules, we aim to create confident and proficient spellers using a discrete teaching approach underpinned by phonics.
Children are also taught to:
Spell accurately and identify reasons for mis-spellings.
Proof-read their spellings
Recognise and use word origins, families and roots to build their skills
Use dictionaries and thesauruses.
Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary
Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary skills are taught explicitly during writing lessons and the children identify how authors have used them effectively during their reading lessons. Grammar and punctuation is planned and taught using the National Curriculum year group expectations and children are expected to apply their knowledge in their writing.
Teachers use the Grammar Toolkit to support the learning and use of punctuation and grammar throughout KS1 and KS2. The images and actions help to embed new learning and support the use of these in their writing. Colour coding is used consistently throughout school, where there is a focus on one particular element, to support the children in identifying grammar (including word types) in sentences and their different functions.
Teachers use assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process and link it clearly to the children’s next steps. Teachers record and track each child’s progress and use this to set future targets. They use a variety of formative assessment methods and constructive marking strategies. The children are also involved in evaluating their writing and in the setting of targets.
The impact on our children is that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to write successfully for a purpose and audience and that they have a love for writing, being inspired as writers by a range of stimuli. They become confident writers and have the ability to plan, draft and edit their own work. By the end of Key Stage 2 children have developed a writer’s craft, they enjoy sustained writing and can manipulate language, grammar and punctuation to create effect. As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum: skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects. This shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific language, grammar and punctuation.