At Southwood Primary School, we aim for all children to be able to write confidently, coherently and creatively. We encourage and enable children to be motivated and independent writers, who enjoy writing for a range of purposes and audiences. 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 believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing by developing a fluent and legible cursive handwriting style by the end of KS2. We recognise that all good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so we teach the children identify their own areas for improvement in all pieces of writing; editing their work effectively during and after the writing process. As a school we endeavour to provide opportunities to inspire writing through whole school events.
At Southwood we have adopted ‘The Write Stuff’ approach to our teaching and learning of English to ensure clarity to the mechanics of writing. Following a method called ‘Sentence Stacking’, the approach places emphasis on sentences being ‘stacked together’ chronologically and organised to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can then immediately apply to their own writing. Within each genre studied by the children, they will learn to sentence stack, focusing on the style of the author and impact of words and sentences most appropriate for that particular genre. All genres covered are carefully selected to link wherever possible to the wider curriculum areas and ensure skills progression throughout the school.
Within each writing lesson, pupils learning is ‘chunked’ into three distinct parts for a writing lesson; initiate, model, enable. The 'initiate stage' is a time to inspire through the use of a stimulus, pupils are immersed in a rich language discussion and activities to provide a wealth of vocabulary to aid their writing. The 'model stage' is the chunk whereby the teacher demonstrates the thoughts and processes of a writer and articulates writing choices. The 'enable stage' is the opportunity for pupils to showcase what they can do independently using the skills and vocabulary discussed and modelled in the previous stages.
Planning follows the below structure from Year 1-6:
The nature of an initiate aspect can take any form, a text extract to analyse, drama convention to explore characters further, a soundscape to recreate an environment, a film clip to provide a shared plot point or a powerful image to stimulate ideas. This part of the lesson allows teachers and children to discuss rich vocabulary that can be later used in the independent stage.
Grammar and punctuation skills are taught and modelled as an integral part of the writing process. The content covered for each year group is aligned to the statutory requirements of National Curriculum. This is an opportunity for the teacher to model their thought process when selecting the most effective sentence structures and vocabulary discussed during the initiate stage.
This learning chunk is the chance for pupils to construct sentences that have be previously demonstrated. Pupils must follow the sentence construction rules modelled by the teacher and they will have many ways they can make choices due to level of input during the initiate phase.
Deepen the moment:
Children are challenged to 'Deepen the Moment' which requires them to draw upon previously learnt skills and apply them to their writing during that chunk.
The children independently write their final outcome piece for the unit incorporating the sentence structures and vocabulary rehearsed throughout the unit.
Editing and improving:
Teachers use a simple coding system when marking for children to use to editing their own work.
E1: Revise - They can correct and improve spelling, punctuation and add missed words or delete additional words) you will need to go through the basic expectations so that children know what they are looking for.
E2: Re-write a sentence chosen by the teacher during marking. They are checking, does it make sense? Could it be restructured or improved?
E3: Reimagine- They can add more sentences to develop an idea further. This should be added underneath their story in purple pen.
Children are also given live verbal feedback during their writing lessons. This means that teachers can clarify and elaborate immediately, therefore ensuring that misconceptions are not embedded, and pupils can act upon the feedback given straight away.
Reception children follow the same 'Write Stuff' approach; however, their lessons follow a slightly different format.
Planning follows the below structure in Reception:
Initiate: This part of the session is where the teacher acts as a narrator to introduce a plot point and with rich story-telling skills, cohesively joining plot points together in talk.
Meaningful Moment: This is a physical bag that includes real objects, artefacts and photographs to bring the children’s thinking into focus. The objects inside the bag are relevant to the content of the sentence the children will be writing.
Grandma Fantastic: Grandma Fantastic is a puppet, with a basket, who brings words into the classroom that have been sorted into the nine ideas for writing. The words are grouped into feelings, asking, noticing, touching, action, smelling, taste, imagining and checking sounds. She always brings the most challenging words, that pupils will probably not be able to suggest themselves. Her function is to furnish pupils with more ambitious words, that are related to the ideas you are generating.
Chotting: ‘Chotting’ is when pupils chat about words and jot their ideas down at the same time (chot). During the chotting section, pupils also borrow some words from Grandma Fantastic and make a note of their favourites.
Model: The teacher always models a complete sentence, showing the writer’s brain in action. The teacher changes their mind, improves and rejects some of the vocabulary, to settle on a final sentence. This sentence guides the pupils’ own thinking, as they set out to write their own. Sentence Pupils are challenged to build a sentence that captures the plot point/way point focus for that session
As well as writing lessons, the continuous provision in EYFS provides resources and learning opportunities accessible to children all of the time. Opportunities for writing are planned for so that children are able to interact, explore and of course, learn.
Children across EYFS take part in daily 'Dough Disco' lessons. 'Dough Disco' involves moulding play dough in time to music and performing different actions such as rolling it into a ball, flattening it, putting each individual finger into the dough, rolling it into a sausage and squeezing it. This is exercise for the fingers to improve fine motor control and gross motor skills. Doing these simple, fun exercises help children prepare for writing.
Each child has year group specific targets for writing. These are kept in their writing books. Both staff and pupils are able to indicate areas achieved by the child and next steps. Children chose a focus target before every piece of independent writing.
Teaching of grammar and punctuation
The teaching of grammar and punctuation is embedded into both fictional and non-fictional writing units. The content taught is progressive and aligned to the statutory requirements of The National Curriculum for each year group. Homework activities linked to elements of grammar and punctuation are set weekly to reinforce what has been learnt in school.
Teaching of spelling
Children from Year 1 to Year 6 access the particular national curriculum objectives relevant to their year group and ability. Children have a spelling focus per week or fortnight which they practise through a range of class and home-based activities. Spellings are brought into the rest of the curriculum where possible including in their reading to maximise learning opportunities and embed the theory into practice, using it in a range of contexts.
Teaching of handwriting
We follow the Penpals Handwriting Programme from Reception to Year 6 which teaches children actively through frequent, discrete lessons. We believe that developing the necessary fine and gross motor skills in readiness for handwriting is vital to setting children on the right path.
The impact of the writing curriculum is assessed during and after each unit of writing, with the opportunity for the teachers and pupils to evaluate. Gaps in writing are identified by the teacher and carried forward to future units of writing where necessary. Writing objectives for the unit (aligned to the National Curriculum) are shared with the pupils at the beginning and their writing in continuously assessed against these areas. Formal assessment judgements are made termly and pupils' progress against the end of year expectations are monitored. Some pupils are given an individual writing target to work towards and additional support is given to enable them to become secure in this area.