Intent, Implementation and Impact of our Writing Curriculum
We believe that it is so important to base our approach to writing on solid, evidence-based research into the best ways to teach and support learning. A good summary of what we aim to achieve in our school is summed up by the Education Endowment Foundation, and you can expect to see evidence of this throughout the following documents:
Writing is a very challenging skill to learn. Nevertheless, access to effective writing instruction is especially important in an era when high-stakes tests depend greatly on writing skill. Encouraging children to manage and monitor aspects of their writing is a key step. A number of different strategies are likely to help, depending on the current skills of the writer…prewriting activities…drafting, revising and editing…sharing…children need to be introduced to, then practise, these skills with feedback from the teacher and from their peers. Pupils also need to learn about text structure, and how texts in different genres are formed. Modelling is also important as pupils progress from constructing simple sentences to being able to combine sentences with more complex grammatical structures. The aim is for them to increase the fluency of these skills and techniques so that they become automatic.
Education Endowment Foundation, 2017
At Sampford Peverell, writing is a crucial part of our curriculum and we wish for all children to utilise as many opportunities as possible to write for a variety of purposes and audiences across the entirety of the curriculum. All children from early mark makers in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to our maturing writers in Year 6 are provided with many opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the all of the topics and experiences they have at school.
Our intention is for pupils to be able to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. To be able to do this effectively, pupils will focus on developing effective transcription and effective composition. They will also develop an awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. They will use spelling strategies and knowledge to ensure that each word is spelled correctly. We also intend for pupils to leave school being able to use fluent, legible, cursive handwriting. Please take a look at our two year rolling programme below to explore our texts, genres and outcomes for English.
- At Sampford Peverell, early writing is taught through mark-making and fine motor skills development; in our First Steps Pre-School, children are encouraged to strengthen their hands through engagement with malleable materials, fine motor activities and opportunities in their play. They are taught to trace and copy lines, shapes and patterns using their fingers or mark-making tools. These activities continue as the children move up to Reception and start their writing lessons.
- Read Write Inc (RWI) is the scheme used across EYFS and KS1 Year 1 & 2); in their first experience of this in Reception, children are taught the letter formations and the specific cursive style that we teach at Sampford. Writing in phonics begins with (whether with a writing tool or in the air) CVC words, before moving onto short captions and then sentences using the sounds and segmenting techniques they have been taught. The children are inspired to write through exposure to rich texts, with story-mapping, labelling and purposeful writing opportunities all techniques used to inspire interest. They are encouraged to write independently in continuous provision with the availability of all the tools and strategies needed at all times.
- This process continues into Year 1, where children are encouraged to use the sounds they have been taught when they are writing, whether this is with the teacher, in continuous provision or independently. By the time they finish Year 1, they have been exposed to all sounds from Phases 2-6 and are encouraged to apply these correctly with visuals on the walls and access to RWI sound mats.
- Writing from Year 1 to Year 6 is a scaffolded journey, building on skills year-on-year. Teachers continually assess the children's writing to track the gaps of individuals and cohorts and they use this information to inform future planning. If objectives are persistently not being met, children will receive targeted intervention.
- At Sampford Peverell, we use the Babcock Texts that Teach to ensure a variety of text types, including a good balance of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. This ensures a consistent and systematic approach to the teaching of writing across all cohorts as they move up to the school, without repetition of text types.
- Teachers use the Babcock Texts that Teach to follow a pattern in all writing units. There is first a focus on immersion in the rich text, before a focus on the grammar and vocabulary modelled by the text and extended by the teaching, finishing with a building up of planning, editing and writing a text of their own. After the teaching of a unit, teachers assess this piece of independent writing against the aims and objectives of the unit and specific feedback is given to the children, in addition to the formative feedback that is offered throughout the unit to ensure strong outcomes.
- At Sampford Peverell, children are exposed to a spelling scheme from the earliest opportunity in EYFS; using an array of spelling elephants, children in Reception are supported to progress across increasingly difficult groups of words, ensuring their acquisition of tricky words and common exception words. They graduate to the school-wide spelling scheme once they have secured the 6th and final spelling elephant. Parents are actively encouraged to support this at home and all materials are made available on the website curriculum page.
- Next, children from Years 1-6 are encouraged to engage with the rainbow spelling scheme. This is a scaffolded approach, helping children to spell the 100 high frequency words, the standard list of tricky words and the statutory word lists for their year group. Children are encouraged to self-assess and move themselves through the coloured spelling cards over time, and are then assessed against these at the end of every half term by their teacher. Any gaps are addressed and children have to ensure they are able to spell the majority of words on the card before they move on.
- Grammar is taught through the model texts indicated by Babcock Texts that Teach, but also through discrete lessons. The National Curriculum for grammar is followed across our mixed-age classes to ensure that there is coverage and opportunities to practise grammar across different contexts.
- Writing across the curriculum is utilised as a rich opportunity for children to apply previous learning in a real context. Therefore, different text types across different genres are applied in history, geography and science with examples such as a biography, information text and explanation text respectively. Expectations are kept high, with children expected to use and apply the grammar, text patterns, structure and vocabulary they have previously learnt.
The impact on writers at Sampford Peverell is that they are taught to view writing as a vehicle for expression in variety of contexts and styles. Teachers, parents and students alike work together to scaffold a secure knowledge of the ingredients for excellence in writing. A recent Ofsted inspection from July 2019 praised the improvements made to writing. Assessments of writing are made by:
- Regular checks on the correct writing process being taught and the quality of writing in English and topic books by the English Curriculum Leader and Headteacher. This is supported through learning walks, drop ins, pupil conferencing and work scrutinies. The analysis of these is used to identify areas of development and any children who are not making expected progress.
- Summative assessment occurs termly in writing and is submitted to a pupil progress tracker to be reviewed and moderated by the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). A submission of writing attainment to Ventrus Academy Trust occurs twice a year, and the English Curriculum Leader attends moderation and professional development events within the Ventrus English Network so that best practise can be shared and support sought for identified issues.
- Writing moderation is carried out by Babcock LDP - KS2 writing outcomes were successfully moderated in 2018; EYFS writing outcomes were also positively moderated in June 2019.
- The Ofsted inspection from July 2019 states that ‘Writing in pupils’ English books is neat and well-presented’ and that ‘The teaching of phonics has improved and is effective. Pupils use the sounds they have learned to read and write unfamiliar words.’. It also suggests that ‘Writing is taught well in English lessons and teachers provide good opportunities for writing to be developed further across the curriculum’.
- All this information is used to analyse the writing needs of the school to inform the School Improvement Plan and to identify training for staff.