How do we teach writing at St James?
‘Pupils should develop the stamina and skills to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation’ National Curriculum, July 2014
Writing skills are developed through a text-based approach. The writing curriculum plans for diverse stimuli for writing which encourages high levels of engagement. Allowing pupils, the time to explore the text, introduce new writing skills before applying the skills with greater levels of independence ensures a deeper understanding of a writer’s choices. Texts are carefully chosen to deepen pupils’ knowledge of the wider curriculum, while ensuring pupils are immersed in our rich and varied literary heritage.
Pupils develop an understanding of purpose and form and the ability to evaluate the notion of appropriateness. Each writing unit will follow the same process: Exploring and analysing the text; the pupils will then be taught the grammatical techniques required for their final writing outcome; they will then gathering and generate ideas for the writing outcome; plan and draft their writing; review and rework their writing based on feedback; proof read their own writing to improve it and finally publishing it for a real life audience and purpose. Depending on the year group and unit, each part of the writing sequence will vary in length.
Children write with a purpose and audience in mind in order to focus their choice of vocabulary and sentence structure.
There are 4 Writing “Purposes” covering fiction, non-fiction and poetry that we cover.
Writing to entertain – which includes writing stories or narrative, character or setting descriptions and poetry.
Writing to inform – where the author provides clear, factual and to the point information to the reader. When writing to inform the author can compare and contrast two subjects. This writing can be presented as a newspaper, magazine, website page, recount, letter, instructions, explanation, biography or autobiography and a report.
Writing to persuade – when the author is putting forward their point of view, trying to persuade you to agree with them or change their mind about a point. Persuasive writing can be in the form of advertising, letter, speech, poster or a campaign.
Writing to discuss – discussions put forward both parts of an argument, and are written for anyone who wants to know all the fact and opinions. Discussions can be presented as a newspaper article, balanced argument or a review.
Each half term will focus on one of the purposes above in order for the children to practise and consolidate the skills required to write for each purpose.
In Year 1 and 2 they focus on the purposes of ‘writing to entertain and writing to inform’, ‘writing to persuade’ is introduced in Year 3 and ‘writing to discuss’ is introduced in Year 5.
Throughout the whole school all children undertake regular handwriting practice using the Penpals handwriting scheme. The children will work through five developmental stages throughout their time at St James: physical preparation for handwriting; securing correct letter formation; beginning to join; securing the joins and practicing speed, fluency and developing a personal style. This regular practice will help them to take pride in their presentation, gaining the knowledge of how to present their work well. In Reception and continuing into Year 1, the children learn the basic letter formation. Most children progress to beginning to join within the first two terms of Year 2, when they have shown they are ready. Children who need more support in this, benefit from personalised learning sessions to give them some additional help.
Spelling and Grammar
Both as part of our English lessons and through discreet technical skills lessons we focus on the technical aspects of writing the children need including spelling. Once children have shown they are secure in Phase 5 phonics, they move onto daily spelling and grammar lessons and from Year 2 they follow the Rising Stars spelling programme. These lessons will incorporate learning spelling rules and patterns as well as practising the statutory words from the National Curriculum.