What is Writing?
Technically, writing aims to tell a story, describe, inform, entertain, to express ideas or persuade. At St. Andrew’s, we believe that developing their writing skills helps children tremendously on their lifelong journey of learning. Writing skills are imperative to achieving success across the curriculum. Writing helps to organize thoughts and helps children to express themselves clearly. It is also essential as a creative outlet which supports the development of imagination and cognitive thinking.
Through the eyes of our children, writing is important because:
“ It helps me to escape the real world and show my imagination in writing. It’s like watching a film but using words.“
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 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. Andrew’s Church of England Primary School, we view writing as an integral part of the curriculum. Writing empowers children. It enhances their problem solving and critical thinking, and helps develop organisational strategies depending on the form of the writing. It also increases decision making abilities and helps to develop research and enquiry skills. It is a creative outlet that allows children to use their imaginations – to go anywhere, to do anything.
The 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 language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
Children are given regular opportunities to write for a purpose, using the wider topic to give a context. Specific text types are taught, using quality text as a model to develop children’s understanding of the genre; the structural and language features of the text are analysed and basic skills teaching of punctuation and grammar ensure that children are well prepared for their own composition. Extension of children’s vocabulary is a key priority and every opportunity is taken to advance this important area. Detailed marking of extended writing with improvement prompts, support children in taking their learning forward.
As well as the main text type, children apply their understanding of previously taught genres during their topic work, thus ensuring text types are regularly revised.
Additional basic skills sessions, including spelling and handwriting, are planned. These are specific to the needs of classes, groups and individuals.
Pupils are taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use Standard English. They should be taught to use the elements of spelling, grammar, punctuation and ‘language about language’ listed. This is not intended to constrain or restrict teachers’ creativity, but simply to provide the structure on which they can construct exciting lessons. A non-statutory glossary is provided for teachers.
Throughout the programmes of study, teachers should teach pupils the vocabulary they need to discuss their reading, writing and spoken language. It is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching.
The teaching and implementation of the writing curriculum at St. Andrew’s C.E. Primary School is based on the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum; it is supported by expectations from Classroom Monitor, ensuring a well-structured approach.
In KS1 and KS2 each writing unit follows a structure of:
· Reading comprehension on selected genre or text type
· Identification of key features of text example
· Writing including incorporation of grammar and punctuation where appropriate
· Editing and improving
· Writing final draft.
Children in all years have daily exposure to writing. In EYFS, our children learn through a combination of play and focused sessions. In KS1, children continue to learn through play in addition to formal daily English lessons, where writing plays a key role. In KS2, English lessons are explicitly taught and writing is a focus during these sessions. Discreet spelling, grammar and punctuation lessons are taught once each week in KS2 each week in addition to being taught as part of daily English lessons where appropriate.
Cross curricular writing takes place in a variety of subjects such as History, Geography, Art, Design and Technology and Science.
Children are encouraged to edit and improve their writing continually and teachers follow the school marking policy so that children can correct errors such as spelling or punctuation and act on their next steps. Children are regularly given time during lessons to act on feedback provided by class teachers.
Through the explicit teaching of the writing skills and key concepts, both the teachers and the pupils assess their learning continuously throughout the lesson and follow the marking and feedback policy. Teachers continually assess children’s progress and achievement by adapting lesson plans on a daily basis. Pupils’ attainment and progress over time is formally recorded three times each year with teachers making informed judgements using the Classroom Monitor assessment system. Key objectives for Years 1 to 6 are assessed in writing. Teachers also administer PIRA grammar, spelling and punctuation tests, published by Hodder and Stoughton, in autumn, spring and summer to support their judgments.