At St Bernadette’s Primary School, our vision is to prepare children with the essential writing skills they will need for later life by providing them with an ambitious and progressive writing curriculum which is carefully sequenced from Reception to Year 6. By the time the children leave Year 6, we aim for them to think, talk and write as if they were an author. We work hard to teach all children new vocabulary, which is developed systematically, so that children leave St Bernadette’s having acquired a broad vocabulary repertoire. Regardless of background, ability or need, we strive to meet the writing requirements of the Early Years Framework and National Curriculum.
We intend that all our pupils by the end of Year six to be able to:
- Write with confidence, fluency, stamina and understanding;
- Have an interest in words and their meaning and carefully select vocabulary to create the desired effect;
- Have a sound grasp of english grammar and punctuation;
- Accurately apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught;
- Have correctly formed, fluent and legible handwriting;
- Know, understand and be able to write in a range of genres in fiction and poetry, and understand and be familiar with some of the ways in which narratives are structures through basic literacy ideas of setting, character and plot;
- Understand, use and be able to write a range of non-fiction texts;
- Plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing;
- Take risks and view mistakes as a positive part of the writing process;
- Have a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their writing;
- Use their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
- Have a positive attitude towards modern and classic poetry and to know some poems by heart.
The teaching of writing across the school consists of two dimensions; transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). In the Early Years Foundation Stage, Writing is taught through the Prime Areas of Communication and Language and Physical Development and the Specific Area of Literacy. Early writing is taught through meaningful mark making which takes place through a variety of sensory experiences in all areas of our Early Years provision, both indoors and outdoors; this helps our children to see writing as an integral part of their play and learning. When children begin the Little Wandle phonics programme,they are taught the letter formations. At St Bernadette’s, we understand that the development of fine and gross motor skills is closely linked to a child’s ability to write. Before children can control the muscles in their hands, they must control the larger muscles of the shoulders and arms. This in turn supports the foundations of their handwriting in preparation for the tripod grip. Throughout Reception, this is developed through the use of Funky Fingers and yoga sessions. We pride ourselves on ensuring that through our enabling Early Years environments, there is always a wide range of inviting mark making resources inside and outside to suit a range of interests and learning styles which are regularly replenished. The role of the practitioner plays a key part in a child’s writing journey: our adult interactions have a high quality, positive impact on children’s writing progress.
In all classes at St Bernadette’s, writing lessons are planned around high-quality, challenging texts which engage, inspire and motivate; this helps to ensure that writing is contextualised and purposeful. Grammar and Punctuation is taught within these lessons, carefully embedded in the sequences which avoids it being taught as a detached, abstract part of the writing process. We believe having a sound knowledge of Grammar and Punctuation is important as it helps children to gain a solid understanding of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of writing which they build upon progressively each academic year, in line with the Early Years Framework and National Curriculum expectations. Where needed for a minority of pupils with SEND, adaptations are made to ensure all pupils access the writing curriculum.
All of our children experience a broad coverage of fiction and non-fiction genres. We structure our lesson sequences in a way that allows children to focus on one key writing purpose at a time – writing to entertain, persuade or inform. This approach means that children spend up to several weeks gaining a thorough understanding of how to write for a specific purpose and what toolbox skills to employ, which lead up to an extended piece of writing. Working walls play a key role in our writing lessons and reflect our current learning; they serve to act as a strong visual aid to support and scaffold the learning of children during the writing process. Quality teacher modelled, shared and guided writing takes place as children build up to an extended piece of writing. During these sessions, the teacher ‘thinks out loud’, purposefully referring to the skills/writing tools and spelling rules that they have been focusing on to model how to think like a writer and therefore make the invisible, visible.
At St Bernadette’s Primary School, spelling is taught regularly in focused sessions from Year 2 onwards within each class. In EYFS and Year 1, Early spelling is taught using the Little Wandle phonics scheme. As children move from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2, the emphasis shifts from the teaching of phonics to more focused teaching of spelling strategies, conventions and rules (in line with the National Curriculum) to build upon the children’s established phonic knowledge. We utilise the ‘Headstart’ resource in these year groups to plan and deliver spelling sessions. This is universally popular with our children, who have a challenging, competitive nature. It also allows teachers to track the progress of individuals or groups of children and tailor the content of spelling sessions to suit their needs.
The cultural capital obtained through becoming an articulate user of a wide and rich range of vocabulary is one of the key drivers underpinning our English curriculum. Interwoven through all areas of the curriculum is a determination to support pupils develop confidence and fluency in using a wide range of vocabulary in a wide range of contexts. All classrooms are vocabulary rich and reflect and exemplify the words and phrases which have been taught and explored over a sequence of learning. The pupils are encouraged to use and apply this ambitious vocabulary in their own writing.
Cursive handwriting is taught through a sequential and progressive approach with teachers and teaching assistants modelling the correct cursive handwriting style. In EYFS and Year 1, children are taught letter formations as part of the phonics and writing programme from Little Wandle. Cursive handwriting is taught discretely from Year 2 onwards. We believe that children’s self-esteem and pride in their work can be raised through ensuring presentation is of a high standard across all curriculum areas.
We have a rigorous writing assessment system which encourages children to incorporate specific writing skills they have been practising in their regular Free Writing. Summative assessments for writing are then analysed at the end of each term. Writing assessment grids are used and Teachers refer to these alongside the Teacher Assessment Statutory Frameworks for Year 2 and 6 to support making judgements which thus inform future planning. The organisation of the writing curriculum, has created a community of enthusiastic writers who enjoy showcasing their knowledge and skills. This enables children to write across a range of forms and adapt their writing successfully, carefully considering the purpose. Children are confident to take risks in their writing and love to discuss and share their ideas. Outcomes of writing in Writing books – and other curriculum subjects – evidence the high quality of work and the impact of varied writing opportunities.