As a school, we believe that by providing children with a high-quality education in English, they will be able to use their writing to communicate ideas in a coherent manner. We understand that through the teaching of writing in English, children will be better equipped when writing in wider curriculum areas.
At St Bees Village School, we intend to:
- provide children with daily writing opportunities;
- develop children’s passion for writing;
- encourage children to write coherently;
- choose a variety of text types which engage and inspire children, providing them with good models for their own writing;
- support children in being ambitious with their vocabulary choices;
- teach children the age appropriate spellings;
- give children the knowledge and understanding of how to use a wide range of punctuation correctly;
- demonstrate how reading and writing skills can interlink.
At St Bees Village School, writing is embedded throughout all aspects of learning. Writing is linked to our class text listed on the reading spine (see appendix 4) and children are involved in discussion, drama and other activities to stimulate ideas and vocabulary for a wide range of writing, such as letters, stories, persuasive leaflets and non-chronological reports. Texts are chosen by the class teacher based on a range of influences, such as those suggested on the Power of Reading lists and Pie Corbett’s reading spine. We use the Talk for Writing approach to support the teaching and learning of writing. Talk for Writing provides children with the opportunity to verbally practise what they are going to write about before planning and then moving onto writing their final piece. Each stage is modelled by the teacher to help scaffold children’s learning and ensure success. This in addition to the use of quality texts provide children with a strong model to follow. This process is extremely valuable to our children, and helps them to become confident and accomplished writers. Teachers also use Power of Reading learning opportunities within the Talk for Writing process to further enhance pupil understanding. The Power of Reading opportunities allow for children to see how reading, writing and spoken language are intertwined.
To support the teaching of writing, the development of motor skills are seen as a priority within our Preschool setting. A range of learning opportunities, activities and resources are provided both indoors and outdoors to promote dexterity. Early Years Practitioners promote independence as much as possible by modelling and demonstrating in order to support children prepare for outdoor play, access resources and use tools safely as well as encouraging children to take manageable risks.
Our outdoor provision (including forest school), enables children to access challenging physical opportunities available through free flow provision to help children to develop bi-lateral coordination, whole body strength (in particular the upper core body strength), special awareness and fine motor skills. Children are taught how to access and use a range of real and play objects and tools for example in sand, water, gravel area, mud kitchen, garden/vegetable plot, construction kits, literacy and outdoor art stores which house a range of papers, pens, crayons, pencils chalks, large brushes and decorating rollers and an outdoor music making area. Children have access to bikes, scooters, loose part large construction materials as well as P.E. equipment and Forest School to promote the development of balance, coordination and strength.
Indoors, a literacy rich environment within our Preschool setting ensures that children have access to a range of tools and resources such as pencils, pens, chalks, paints and crayons in each play area. Mark making happens everywhere, and for this reason we do not have a specific writing area. Within the context of a play based learning environment there are plentiful opportunities for children to play and work alongside creative practitioners so that they see different ways of expressing themselves and communicating their ideas using different materials. Funky Fingers encourages the development of the fine motor skills, strength as well as control. Malleable materials such as playdough/ clay/ slime/ foams tools and cutters, scrapers, small loose parts such as beads, dried pulses, laces, natural objects, as well as tools such as tweezers, hole punchers, scissors, pegs, pipets, help to build up the muscle strength in the fingers that is necessary for children to begin to hold writing implements correctly and use them effectively with control and coordination to form symbols such as letters and numbers later on in their writing.
Staff working within the early years will model, demonstrate and display writing for different purposes in playful ways, as well as in the moment teaching strategies to enhance children’s mark making skills in both sensory and specific play and activities. Children have the chance to self-register, create shopping lists and recipes in the home corner, use Talk for Writing to record familiar stories and children’s stories and use marks and symbols to record the weather.
When children enter Reception, they continue to focus on mark making and letter strings and through the use of continuous provision have the opportunity to practise writing by creating lists, writing on whiteboards, writing their names and painting. Spur of the moment writing learning opportunities are also closely picked up on by EYFS staff.
For Read Write Inc. we group pupils homogeneously, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well developed. In the Early Years, gross motor skills are developed in the outdoor area through large whole body movements, and through fine motor activities such as dough disco, pencil control, pinching and grasping and painting. In Reception, we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practice in writing high frequency words with irregular spellings (common exception words). Embedding the alphabetic code early means that pupils quickly learn to write simple words and sentences. We encourage them to compose each sentence aloud until they are confident to write independently. We make sure they write every day. During the discrete writing lessons, children will:
- learn how to form letters correctly by starting and finishing in the correct place;
- learn and develop their use of grapheme-phoneme correspondences to segment for spelling;
- be aware of words with irregular spellings and develop strategies to remember these;
- read, hold and write a sentence applying their knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondences
- acquire good handwriting skills being able to form letters by starting and finishing in the correct place and beginning to form letters of a suitable size relative to one another.
In addition to Read Write Inc. lessons, teachers in the EYFS also use their selected book from the reading spine to support their teaching of writing and to provide extra opportunities for children to write. Teachers use the Talk for Writing approach to support their teaching of this text.
Key Stage 1
For Read Write Inc. we continue group pupils homogeneously, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. Pupils write at the level of their spelling knowledge. The quality of the vocabulary they use in their writing reflects the language they have heard in the books the teacher has read to them; they have also discussed what the words mean. We build upon the work undertaken in EYFS. Children continue to have daily lessons and daily writing opportunities to allow them to:
- write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar;
- spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words;
- be aware of words with irregular spellings and develop strategies to remember these
- acquire good handwriting by continuing to form letters by starting and finishing at the correct place, ensuring that their letters are of a suitable size relative to one another and begin to use the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join.
In addition to Read Write Inc. lessons, teachers in Key Stage 1 also use their selected book from the reading spine to support their teaching of writing and to provide extra opportunities for children to write following the Talk for Writing model.
Key Stage 2
In Key Stage 2, the teaching of writing takes places within English lessons. Teachers use their chosen text from the reading spine and follow the Talk for Writing model.
Talk for Writing
At St Bees Village School we use Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing as a model for writing. Talk for Writing advocates that children imitate the key language needed for a particular genre orally, before reading and analysing it and then finally bringing all of these ideas together to write in this genre independently. Through a variety of activities, they rehearse retelling the text through, then through shared writing they are shown how to craft their writing in the same style. The approach includes imitation, innovation and independent application. These stages allow for children to have modelled examples to support their own writing, understand the impact on the reader and how their writing can influence this and produce writing using a range of language needed for that specific genre.
The teaching of handwriting begins in the early years with children being given the opportunity to develop gross and fine motor skills. Pupils who take part in Read Write Inc. have regular discrete handwriting sessions. Children learning early letter formation use the Read Write Inc. letter formation sayings. Once children are ready to begin to use the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join, they use the Nelson handwriting scheme. Weekly discrete handwriting sessions take place within Key Stage 2.
Grammar, punctuation and spelling
The grammar and punctuation outlined for each year group within the National Curriculum are taught within the given context of each Talk for Writing unit. Teachers plan a range of grammar and punctuation games and activities focusing on children’s next steps for learning and based on the writing genres being taught. Teachers also use Grammar Hammer assertive mentoring to provide explicit grammar and punctuation teaching.
To support the teaching of spellings outlined in the National Curriculum for each year group, children in the Early Years and Key Stage 1 are taught grapheme-phoneme correspondences and are introduced to alternative grapheme-phoneme correspondences to support their spelling. Children are encouraged to use strategies such as ‘Fred Fingers’ to ‘pinch the sounds’ and ‘red words’. For children in Years 1 to 6, the Spelling Shed scheme is used. Spelling Shed provides teachers with spelling lessons and learning activities, as well as an online platform for pupils to independently practice the spellings outlined in the National Curriculum. Teachers provide children with practical activities to develop skills related to phonics, orthography, morphology and etymology.
SEN and Gifted and Talented
To support less able and extend more able pupils, differentiated activities are used. Children with learning difficulties will have provision for their particular needs through the use of an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Children who are not yet meeting age-related expectations receive additional support within class and in small groups out of class. Their work is differentiated to help scaffold their learning and ensure that they are given every opportunity to catch-up.
For those pupils who are exceeding, teachers provide challenge through differentiated tasks and expectations. Children are encouraged to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in other subjects.
By the time pupils leave St Bees Village School, we want them to:
- be passionate about their writing and have the desire to write;
- write coherently for a range of purposes and audiences;
- know of and use a range of ambitious vocabulary within their writing;
- write coherent narratives for both fiction and non-fiction writing across a range of genres;
- draw upon their reading and modelled writing to inform their own writing decisions;
- spell age appropriate spellings correctly and consistently;
- know how to use punctuation accurately;
- gain transferrable writing skills which can be used in wider curriculum subjects and in everyday life;
Our intended impact is also to ensure that:
- the percentage of pupils working at expected within each year group will be at least in line with national averages or better;
- the percentage of pupils working at greater depth within each year group will be at least in line with national averages or better;
- there will be no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non-disadvantaged).
We monitor the impact of the teaching of writing through both summative and formative assessment. Teachers input writing assessment data on to our whole school tracking system each term. Teachers also complete half-termly writing assessments using the age-related expectation targets to monitor progression and inform next steps throughout the year. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are assessed both within pieces of independent writing and using the assertive mentoring ‘Grammar Hammer’ skills check specific to each year group. Pupils in Years 2 and 6 also complete the end of Key Stage SATs grammar, punctuation and spelling test. Teachers in Years 2 and 6 will use past papers throughout the year to monitor progress and inform next steps.