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.
Teaching fiction writing
From Early Years to Year 6, we understand the importance of exposing children to a rich variety of high-quality texts to inspire their own writing. Therefore, our planning of fictional writing is centred around carefully selected books which cover a range of genres, themes and contexts. Before the planning of any fictional writing unit begins, an intended writing outcome is decided upon and a journey to enable children to succeed in meeting the outcome is then mapped out.
Our planning of fictional writing units follows the process outlined below:
Before engaging in the reading of the text for the unit, activities are planned which are designed to 'hook' the pupils into the theme or context of the story. This could include drama activities, an educational visit, studying artefacts or conducting research.
Grammar and punctuation skills are taught as an integral part of the writing process. The content covered for each year group is aligned to the statutory requirements of National Curriculum (Appendix 2). This section of the teaching of writing allows the children to embed their learning of sentence structure, grammar and punctuation into 'short burst' writing activities.
The children plan their own writing which is aligned to the intended outcome for the unit. This could be in the form of a boxed-up plan, story map or story mountain.
The children independently write their final outcome piece for the unit, incorporating the criteria for the unit into their writing.
Editing and improving:
From year 2, children edit their writing for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, and suggest and make improvements to their writing.
Teaching non-fiction writing
For non-fiction writing we use the Talk for Writing process. Each half term, children across the year groups experience writing a range of non-fiction text types including explanations, persuasion, non-chronological reports, instructions, discussion and recount. Where possible, the non-fiction writing units are linked to other areas of the curriculum e.g. in year 6, children write a non-chronological report based on their science unit 'Evolution and Inheritance.'
Our planning of non-fictional writing units follows the Talk for Writing process outlined below:
This is the most important stage. Children are learning and retelling a non-fiction text model aligned to the non-fiction text type which is being taught. Teachers draw text maps and teach the children actions. These are used to retell the text again and again until it is embedded. Next, teachers teach story structure through a ‘Box Up’. Finally, a toolkit is constructed to highlight important features.
The innovation stage involves changing the original text when it is in the children’s long term memories. The 'Box Up' for the original model is adapted and then the teacher takes ideas from the class to model writing them correctly thinking about composition and punctuation. Children then write their version of the class’ innovated story.
Children move to becoming independent writers at this stage of the process. They plan and write their own text based on the language patterns learnt over the past two stages.
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
Spellings are taught as set out in the statutory requirements of Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum. A list of spelling words are sent home weekly and the children are tested. At Southwood we use Rising Stars to support the teaching of spelling.
Teaching of handwriting
Handwriting is taught progressively throughout the school. From learning how to hold a pencil and form basic letter shapes to developing a fluent, cursive writing style.
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. Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling tests are administered termly to assess the impact of the teaching of these areas and identify gaps.