The aim of our writing curriculum is to enable pupils to develop the following essential characteristics:
- The ability to write fluently and with interesting detail on a number of topics throughout the curriculum.
- A vivid imagination which makes readers engage with and enjoy their writing.
- A highly developed vocabulary and an excellent knowledge of writing techniques to extend details or description.
- Well-organised and structured writing, which includes a variety of sentence structures.
- Excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented and punctuated, spelled correctly and neat.
- A love of writing and an appreciation of its educational, cultural and entertainment values.
The following factors underpin the design of our writing curriculum:
- We recognise that reading and writing skills are intrinsically linked and believe that children learn best in both areas when lessons are designed around high quality and engaging whole class texts.
- Pupils must be exposed to a wide variety of high quality models for writing which will include the texts they read in class in addition to shared writing activities or WAGOLLs (What A Good One Looks Like) prepared by the teacher. It is through pulling apart, reflecting upon and emulating these models which children will learn to produce high quality pieces of writing themselves.
- We believe that children must be given a clear understanding of the Purpose (Persuade, Inform, Entertain), Audience and Text Type when they are asked to write.
- Writing is a form of communication and therefore we believe that children should be provided with a real audience for their writing whenever possible. This is an important factor in providing pupils with the motivation to write.
- The cognitive load placed on pupils when writing can be overwhelming. Therefore we believe that children need clear success criteria which have been co-created as a class.
- Children must also be allowed time to develop a piece of writing over a sequence of lessons with regular opportunities for self/peer assessment and to reflect on feedback provided by the teacher or teaching assistant. This will include opportunities to plan, write and edit and improve their work.
- We recognise that providing pupils with an opportunity to ‘talk for writing’ will positively impact on their ability to produce high quality work. This includes providing opportunities to generate ideas, rehearse and reflect upon their writing.
- Children must be explicitly taught the grammar, spelling and punctuation objectives as contained in the National Curriculum. However, we believe that GPS activities are likely to have the greatest impact on learning when they are fully embedded in the context of the writing task itself where meaningful links can be made.
Please follow the links below to view our English Curriculum Maps for each year group. Every term, children will learn how to write in a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Where possible, links are made with what children will be studying that term in other areas of the curriculum such as history or science.
Year 1 English Curriculum Map – click here
Year 2 English Curriculum Map – click here
Year 3 English Curriculum Map – click here
Year 4 English Curriculum Map – click here
Year 5 English Curriculum Map – click here
Year 6 English Curriculum Map – click here
In order to support pupils and their parents/carers in understanding the objectives which the children are working towards in each year group, ‘English Checklists’ have been designed which explain the objectives in child-friendly language. These contain the key objectives for reading, writing and GPS (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling) as set out in the National Curriculum. Please note that in reading and writing the objectives for Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6 remain the same so that pupils can master these skills over a two year period.
Year 1 English Checklist – click here
Year 2 English Checklist – click here
Year 3 English Checklist – click here
Year 4 English Checklist – click here
Year 5 English Checklist – click here
Year 6 English Checklist – click here
As children progress through the school, they revisit key writing skills in multiple different contexts and teachers help children to make connections and build their understanding by making explicit reference to these skills.
In order to support this, our ‘Writing Toolkit’ has been developed which are an integral part of all writing lessons. We encourage parents and carers to use this toolkit when supporting pupils with writing activities at home.
You can download a copy of the ‘Writing Toolkit’ here.
A range of carefully-planned provision is continuously accessible for pupils in both Nursery and Reception in order for them to develop their Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening skills. These opportunities regularly link to the whole-class text being studied, supporting the development of subject schema. Quality adult-interaction with pupils ensures that the provision is being accessed appropriately and in a way that will provide experiences for them to practise developing core skills and make progress. In Reception, pupils take part in weekly small group handwriting sessions.
- Whole class English lessons based on core texts in English curriculum map take place for approximately 1 hour each day
- Weekly handwriting lessons
- Weekly spelling homework (spelling rules are explicitly taught to pupils in phonics lessons)
- Writing opportunities in other areas of the curriculum such as history or science
- Whole class English lessons based on the core text are taught for approximately 8 hours per week with an average of 5 hours a week with a specific writing/GPS focus
- Weekly handwriting lessons
- Weekly spelling homework (spelling rules to be explicitly taught to pupils in lessons)
- Years 3 and 4 – 10-15 minute daily vocabulary sessions (Mrs Wordsmith resource)
- Writing opportunities in other areas of the curriculum such as history or science
In KS1 and KS2, teaching and learning activities will follow the same approximate structure over each writing unit:
- Time to explore the genre. This will include a discussion about the Purpose (to Persuade, Inform, Entertain), Audience and Text Type (features of the genre) and how these elements affect the writing choices that the author makes.
- An engaging stimulus or a memorable experience for writing. Writing activities are planned which will have a ‘real’ audience which will increase children’s motivation to write.
- A WAGOLL (What A Good One Looks Like) which they can emulate. This may be a model text (one created by the teacher or taken from the class text) or it may be a shared writing activity. Children will be supported in ‘deconstructing’ the text so that they have a clear understanding of the elements required to write successfully in this genre.
- Talk for Writing. This should include opportunities for children to rehearse the vocabulary and sentence structures which they will need to use in their writing. Drama and role play may also form part of the planning process as children generate ideas about what they are going to write.
- Planning. Children may plan their work in a variety of ways including using story boards, story maps or using a story mountain.
- Writing in chunks. The cognitive load involved in writing can be overwhelming for children as they have to consider many different elements at the same time therefore children complete writing activities in ‘chunks’ over the course of multiple lessons.
- Editing and Improving. Children will read through their work and using feedback from the class teacher/teaching assistant or their peers, they will make improvements to it.
- Independent Writing Task: At the end of the unit, children are asked to complete a different writing task in the same genre. This allows the teacher to assess their work and the progress they have made in that unit.
When you visit your child’s classroom, you will notice that there is a writing working wall. We believe that writing working walls are crucial in developing pupils’ understanding of the ‘learning journey’ that takes place across a sequence of lessons. They can provide children with invaluable support when they are writing and foster their ability to work independently. Working walls are not intended to be tidy and neat (although adults always model correct handwriting) but should be constantly evolving as the unit progresses.
We follow a highly structured spelling programme and children are explicitly taught spelling rules on a weekly basis (in Years 1 and 2 this will be closely linked with what they are learning in daily phonics lessons). Homework is given to support this and children take part in a weekly spelling test to monitor progress. In addition to this, a half termly test is administered to monitor how well children have retained the spelling rules which have been taught over the preceding half term.
As a school we have chosen to use the Nelson Handwriting Scheme as this provides a clearly structured programme with full coverage of the technical aspects of writing (including letter formation, basic joins, printing, speedwriting and slant). These skills are taught in meaningful and curriculum-relevant contexts, particularly in the areas of phonics, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary.
Grammar and Punctuation
The majority of English lessons will begin with a brief ‘starter’ in which the grammar and punctuation elements of the National Curriculum are taught or revisited. We recognise that children then need regular opportunities to apply this knowledge in the rest of the English lesson in order to make meaningful links. When new content is introduced for the first time, teachers may also devote an entire stand-alone lesson to ensure pupils’ understand the concept fully.
As a school, we recognise the importance of developing our pupils’ knowledge of vocabulary due to the impact this has on their future academic success. Vocabulary likely to contribute to academic success (known as tier 2 words) and topic specific vocabulary (known as tier 3 words) is explicitly taught in every year group in order to ensure our children can access the curriculum appropriately. In every subject, teachers identify the key vocabulary in their planning and these words are displayed in pocket charts within classrooms for children to refer to later in the week/unit. Teachers use a range of strategies within lessons to develop and deepen understanding of these key words.
In Years 3 and 4 we use the Mrs Wordsmith Storyteller’s dictionary resource to teach daily vocabulary lessons which last 10-15 minutes. Lessons are organised around different themes for each term (e.g. action, character, emotion, setting, taste and smell, weather) and teach children six words each week which are linked in meaning (e.g. words to describe hunger/thirst: crave, parched, famished, ravenous, insatiable, voracious). In addition to looking at a visual representation of the word and a child-friendly definition, pupils are taught word pairs (e.g. bulging = eyes, wallet, biceps) and how to select and use the words appropriately in different contexts.
We have developed a timetable of author visits to enthuse and motivate pupils about the joys of reading and writing. Authors are selected carefully to support this and are often the authors of texts contained in the English curriculum map so that the visit has real meaning for the pupils in terms of the links to what they are studying in class. Efforts are also made to ensure many of the authors are from a BAME background in order to reflect our own school community and promote high aspirations for our pupils’ futures.
Catering for the needs of ALL pupils
We have high expectations for all our pupils regardless of their starting points. We also recognise that some pupils need additional support with their writing. Some of the ways in which children might be provided with additional support in class include:
- The use of Colourful Semantics
- The EYFS marking strip as an aide memoire
- Word banks and sound mats
- Writing frames
- Visual images
- Pencil grips
Children who require additional support with their writing skills predominately have their needs met through quality first teaching in the classroom however in some cases additional support is provided outside of ‘normal’ lessons. This can include:
- Small group writing lessons delivered by Mr Anthony Chambers (KS1)
- Colourful Semantics Interventions
- 1st Class at Writing Support (Years 3 and 4)
- The use of external tutors through the National Tutoring Programme
- Additional handwriting support
The primary reason for assessment is to provide the pupil and the teacher with vital information which can then be used to improve future teaching and learning. Teachers will use a range of strategies to gain information about how well a child has understood an objective during the lesson including the use of effective questioning and collecting evidence from written work completed. Appropriate verbal and written feedback and peer or self-assessment tasks are then used to provide children with the information they need to continue to make rapid progress.
Different summative assessment tools are used to track pupils’ progress in writing carefully throughout the school. These include:
- Assessment of writing in books
- Weekly spelling tests
- Half termly spelling checks
- Termly grammar assessments
Teachers use their assessments to set children two personalised writing targets and two GPS (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling) targets each term. These targets are discussed and agreed with the child during their mentoring meeting and this report is then shared with parents/carers. Parents are welcome to discuss the progress their child is making in writing informally at any point and are also invited to Parent Open Evenings once every term.
How can parents and carers support their child with writing at home?
One of the best ways you can support your child with their writing is by encouraging them to read regularly at home. This will expand their vocabulary in addition to developing their understanding of a range of different genres of writing.
Write for a real purpose
Writing cards, shopping lists, or letters/emails to relatives can be motivating real life reasons for writing and show children how useful it is to be able to write well. Helping children make the connection between writing and the “real” world will increase their interest in writing.
Talk to your child
Talk with your child regularly and ask a lot of questions. Conversations help develop skills such as choosing words, expressing ideas, and reflecting on experiences. Instead of yes-no questions (e.g. “Did you have a good day at school today?”), try to ask open-ended questions (e.g. “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?”). Talk with your child about places you visit, books you read or television programs you watch together.
Show an interest in vocabulary
The best writers use a wide range of vocabulary. As you read with your child, be on the lookout for new or interesting vocabulary. Praise your child if they ask you what an unfamiliar word means and help them understand how to use it in a sentence.
Create a writing space at home
Set aside a little corner in your house that is completely devoted to writing. Ideally this should be an area with a table and chair that is quiet and well lit. Stock the ‘Writing Corner’ with supplies such as paper, pencils, crayons, markers, pens, or other writing instruments at home. We understand that in a busy family home it can be challenging to have a dedicated space such as this so if it is not possible then sitting at a table to write is preferable to completing homework on the floor or balanced on the sofa.
Encourage your child to take pride in their work
All children make mistakes and this is a normal part of learning. Parents and carers can encourage children to read over their work to check for spelling or punctuation errors. Encourage them to use a dictionary (on online dictionary is fine) or to ask when they are not sure about how to spell a word. Ideally, check through your child’s work with them once they have finished and help them spot any mistakes however remember to emphasise all the good things in their writing and avoid just focussing on what they have got wrong. Celebrate what they have written by displaying it on a family noticeboard or on the fridge!