Overview of writing in the school
In FS children begin mark making and as their knowledge of letters grows through their work in phonics they are given opportunities to write. Initially this is often then transcribed below as children tell the teacher or TA what they have written as their intention may be more advanced than their letter and word formation. There is a writing cafe in FS and regular time is given to encouraging more sustained written work.
As children become more confident with their writing they undertake news writing where they write about their own lives as well as taking on more abstract tasks such as storytelling and information writing. This gradual development is carefully supported through KS1 and beyond.
Children leaving KS1 are often very confident writers and able to take on writing in many different genres. This has been scaffolded by linking reading and writing and by the use of modelling, shared writing and guided writing sessions which develop the skills the children need to become independent in a range of styles. Many children are now confident with phonics and the sounds letters make both on their own and in combinations within words. With the more confident writers in KS1 the teacher is able to introduce many of the terms children can use to talk about their writing and to work on improving it such as “audience” and “purpose” and so on. We aim to introduce the correct vocabulary for features of writing as soon as possible as children absorb it easily at this stage and do not then need to relearn terms later on.
As children move into KS2 the writing demands on them increase and they develop stamina and perseverance with writing. There is more of an emphasis on making choices as a writer about the vocabulary and structure of writing and also on editing and improving work to set guidelines. The children become more aware of the specific features of different genres and styles of writing and have opportunities to try out different ideas and find their own voice. This is greatly assisted by them reading longer and more challenging literature and non fiction from which they are able to glean ideas and “magpie” things they like. Writing skeletons are used from Class 2 upwards to help the children to structure their work in different genres of writing.
Throughout the school there is a strong emphasis on writing across the curriculum and writing from experience. As such we have endeavoured to provide opportunities to inspire the children in their writing in the form of educational visits and through our topic based creative approach.
The assessment of writing in the school (and nationally in KS1 and 2 by teacher assessment) takes account of:
- Sentence Structure
- Text Structure & Organisation
- Composition & Effect
Children are given opportunities to consider these areas when looking at their own writing and also to come up with success criteria by which to measure their own work in particular genres (eg knowing that for a non-fiction text to be really successful it will have an introduction and conclusion, whereas a story might require a build up and a resolution).
There is also the statutory assessment of phonics for the younger children and spelling, punctuation and grammar for the older children. The children are streamed throughout the lower school for phonics up to Year 4 with all TAs taking a group as well as teachers three times a week.
Spellings is taught discreetly in classes 3 and 4 as well as within the body of everyday work and focusses on learning spelling patterns as well as on specific lists. Grammar and Punctuation are also taught discreetly once a week in Y2-Y6 in addition to the focus during other writing tasks. The new curriculum emphasises the need to plan writing and to edit and improve after writing and this is stressed in the work the children undertake in KS2.
Recent developments in writing in the school
- We identified a need to support boys in their writing throughout the school and this has been a focus for our intervention groups this year.
- Ms Alcock and Miss Griffin attended CPD on using ICT to inspire and support children with their writing and are hoping to use blogging more in the future alongside other ideas.
- All staff attended 2 training sessions with Jo Skelton (ex LEA English advisor, now consultant) covering Spelling Punctuation and Grammar and managing spelling in a mixed age class setting. This training was taken with teachers from Longney, Whiteshill and Randwick schools, and was generally considered very useful in terms of staff skill and confidence.
- visit to the Cheltenham Literacy Festival to work with authors Cornelia Funke an James Mayhew.
Future plans for writing
We would like to:
- continue targeted intervention for groups and individuals
- develop the writing of our more able pupils
- develop our blogging skills and publish more work on the internet