'There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you' Beatrice Potter
At St Francis, we want our children to be enthusiastic about writing, drawing upon their reading experience. We aim for them to develop as imaginative, creative and independent writers, who can write competently and fluently. Our vision for the writing curriculum is one that encompasses a wide variety of genres, whilst ensuring a strong sense of audience and purpose. It is important to us that our children understand the value in planning carefully, drafting, editing and publishing their written work. We also want our children to be able spellers, who understand the importance of grammar and punctuation in writing coherently.
In our Foundation Stage, the children's writing journeys start with communication and language. Activities to specifically promote the development of the children's speaking and listening skills are embedded in each area of the continuous provision - both indoors and outdoors.
Alongside this, as children learn their initial sounds in their daily phonics sessions, they are taught how to form the letters (graphemes) that correspond with these sounds (phonemes). The formation of letters is taught in every phonics session daily.
The EYFS curriculum is planned around quality texts which are purposely chosen for their rich vocabulary, clear plot, to engage the children and to inspire the children's creative minds. We follow Pie Corbett's Talk for Writing approach, taking the children through three different phases:
- Imitation - The Class Teacher works with the children to develop a text map of the focussed book which enables the children to learn the text off by heart with actions to help the words 'stick'.
- Innovation - The Teacher leads the children into creating their own versions of the story through speaking first and when the children are ready, they learn to write the words and/or sentences through the application of their phonics knowledge.
- Independent application - This phase happens mostly when the children use what they have been learning independently in different areas of provision. Most often, this takes place in the role play, small world, reading and writing areas, where the provision is purposely set up to encourage this independent application.
EYFS Focussed Books Long Term Plan:
Following on from EYFS, children in Year 1 continue to use the Talk for Writing approach in their daily Writing lessons throughout the Autumn term. However, it is approached slightly differently to EYFS as outlined below:
- Imitation - As in EYFS
- Innovation - The Teacher leads the children through different stages - generating ideas, simple planning, shared and guided writing to result in the children writing a new version of the imitated text. When children are confident enough, they are taught how to edit their work using purple pens to improve it further
- Independent application - The children apply all that has been taught and practised to produce a piece of independent writing.
From the Spring term onwards, Writing is taught following Jane Considine's 'The Write Stuff' pedagogy. More details on this approach are outlined below.
Year 1 Writing Long Term Plan
Year 2-Year 6
From Spring term in Year 1 right through to Year 6, we teach the children how to write based on Jane Considine's 'The Write Stuff' approach. This is a clear and systematic approach to the teaching of Writing, providing a step-by-step framework for the children to follow. It focusses on three zones of Writing which encompass various lenses: the 'Fantastics' - the ideas for writing, the 'Grammaristics' - the tools for writing and the 'Boomtastics' - the techniques for Writing.
Our long term plans for Writing encompasses various genres across fiction and non-fiction for the following purposes:
- Writing to inform
- Writing to entertain
- Writing to persuade
- Writing to discuss (UKS2 only)
Find the Shape:
There are five writing lessons per week for all children in Key Stage 1 and 2. The children begin a unit of work by 'finding the shape' of the text, in which children learn the different features of the genre and the structure of the text.
Children then move onto the 'sentence stacking' phase. This is an intense teaching and learning stage in which children learn to craft sentences, apply grammar and punctuation and are empowered to make their writing exciting and interesting. They work through the following phases:
INITIATE: A stimulus is introduced in order to generate ideas, vocabulary and phrases for the children to use in their writing and they collect and record these on their 'thinking sides' in their books.
MODEL: The teacher clearly models how to apply these ideas/vocabulary/phrases.
ENABLE: The children have the opportunity to apply their learning from their 'thinking side' in their own independent writing on their 'writing sides'.
These lessons are carefully designed to engage pupils in learning, to capture their imaginations and is 'the spark' that ignites their interest in a particular experience, topic, issue, book, piece of art, music, artifact or image. These lessons are 'rinsed' for all the language and vocabulary the children will need to create their own independent piece of writing by the end of the unit.
Planning, Drafting, Editing and Publishing Independent Writing:
The children move into the independent stage. With support from their teacher and carefully designed planning frames, the children plan their own independent writing within the genre they have been learning about in their 'find the shape and 'sentence stacking' lessons. They then use this plan to create a full piece of independent writing which the teacher reads, provides feedback on (see below for our feedback method) and the children then edit and improve using purple pens, again independently. When appropriate, the children are given the opportunity to publish their work either for their books or for display around school.
In every classroom, working walls are used to enhance and support the children's learning in their current unit of work. They help the children to track the journey of the current genre of Writing they are working on, who the audience is they are writing for, the purpose of the writing and whether they should be writing with a positive or negative intent. They also celebrate children's achievements along the way and hold banks of language and vocabulary that have been gathered during 'sentence stacking' lessons for the children to use in their work.
We approach feedback on either an individual basis or as a whole class. Whichever is chosen as the more appropriate, each child receives feedback on every piece of writing they produce, whether it is in draft form or the final piece. Individual feedback is given directly with the child through discussion. Whole class feedback ensures that:
- elements of children's work are celebrated
- common basic errors are addressed
- common misconceptions are retaught in the next lesson
- incorrect spellings are revisited
- presentation of work is either celebrated or addressed
Spelling is taught discretely in KS2 for 10-15 minutes daily. Every child is required to log on to an online spelling programme called Spelling Shed, where they will access their spelling list for the week. The expectation is that every child will log on and play the games based on this list at least 3 times per week before then being tested on them at the end of the week.
If a child does not have access to an electronic device to be able to do this, they will be given a sheet with the list of spellings on for them to learn at home. Every child in school is able to access their new spelling list on a Friday and the following Friday they are tested on them.
Year 2-6 Writing Long Term Plan
Our Writing curriculum first and foremost engages our children in the Writing process - no matter their ability. All of our children want to write! Within each year group, our children are taught to write for a range of different genres, select appropriate and ambitious vocabulary, craft interesting sentences, spell and punctuate accurately and producing final pieces of writing which, most importantly, they are proud of, but that also suit the audience and purpose they are intended for and are of high quality. All children make good progress from their starting points and this is clearly evidenced in their books. By the time our children reach Year 6, they know the features of different genres and a wide range of sentence structures, freeing them up to enjoy manipulating language to impact the reader's experiences and craft sophisticated sentences that are accurately punctuated.
We measure the impact of our Writing curriculum through:
On-going formative assessment
This takes place during daily classroom teaching, particularly during the sentence stacking phase of learning. This ensures that our children feel well-supported and thus grow in confidence in their Writing ability.
Regularly reading and feeding back on children's work.
This provides many opportunities for children to constantly experiment with language and the structure of their sentences resulting in them producing writing full of rich vocabulary and ambitious sentence structures. During the sentence stacking phase, particularly well-crafted sentences showing strong examples of linguistic and grammatical features are shared with the rest of the class and put on display in celebration and also as a tool to support the class.
Feedback for Editing and Redrafting Independent Work
Our whole class feedback policy ensures that every child's independent Writing is read carefully and fed back on (see above under 'feedback' for more details) so that they can edit and, if needed, redraft their work. This ensures that children are taught how to spot errors in grammar and punctuation and correct them, but most importantly how to refine their sentences using more sophisticated vocabulary and linguistic features, paying close attention to the impact on the reader.
Summative assessment of children's independent writing.
We formally assess Writing against our agreed Writing criteria for each year group (in line with the National Curriculum) at three key assessment points towards the end of each term - judging the work as either below key stage expectations, just below year group expectations, on-track to reach age -related expectations or on-track to reach greater depth. Each year group's work (from FS2 - Y6) is moderated across our own staff and also across our School Improvement Group within our Trust. We also submit work from each year group to nomoremarking.com which has comparative judgement as its core principle. This gives us another layer of assessment which further supports us in making our judgements. Children's work form Y2 and Y6 is further moderated across our Local Authority. All of this together ensures that our judgements are in line with local and national expectation.
We are constantly listening to what our children tell us, but once a year, we formally listen to the views of a wide cross-section of children on how well they think they are achieving in writing, what their strengths and areas for development are, how they feel supported to improve and what they feel they need in order to reach their potential in Writing.
Through our weekly staff meetings and continuous professional dialogue we listen to the views of our teaching and classroom support staff. Again, once a year, we do this more formally, asking our staff for their views on the content of our Writing curriculum, how well it meets the needs of all our children and how it could be further improved.
Evaluating children's work in their books.
The Writing Leader carries out formal termly book looks, providing feedback to the teachers on the strengths and areas for development. More informal and frequent book looks take place amongst teachers in order to share excellent practice across the school and support less experienced teachers.