English - Writing
"We are writers and authors..."
At Wrington, we aim to nurture a sense of enjoyment in our children at expressing their thoughts and feelings through writing. We seek to develop their abilities to write for a wide range of purposes and audiences across the curriculum, using the written word to communicate ideas, views and feelings. Through looking at its patterns, structures and origins, children gain an understanding of how language works. At Wrington we adopt a ‘Learning without Limits’ approach to writing, children are encouraged to challenge themselves and to strive to achieve their best work.
We believe that writing confidently with spelling accuracy is a life skill - successful job applications, responding to surveys, thank you letters, writing reports, articles or simply responding to messages. We also recognise that clear, legible handwriting allows the content of the work to be appreciated and frees the writer to focus on the task.
These skills begin in Reception with playful writing and early phonics and continue through Year 6. Throughout their time at Wrington, children will have opportunities to write in a range of exciting and relevant contexts, such as writing letters of thanks, creating cards, writing articles for the school newsletter, prayers, poems, entering internal and external competitions, contributing to anthologies and scripting their own leavers’ service contributions. As children grow in confidence and maturity, we encourage them to see themselves as powerful agents of change, and support them in taking an role in society, using their voices to consider local issues (such as the expansion of Bristol airport, the closure of local shops or local building projects), as well as looking further afield; writing letters to the government or banks about climate and ethical financing.
Our aims for writing are:
- To help children to enjoy writing and recognise its value;
- To develop children’s abilities to reflect on their own and others’ contributions and the language used;
- To develop confident, independent writers through an appropriate focus on text, sentence and word level knowledge;
- To encourage children to become enthusiastic and reflective writers by exposing them to high quality writing;
- To enable children to write in a range of different forms, both fiction and non-fiction, selecting the text style most appropriate to their needs;
- To enable children to plan, draft and edit their work to improve it when appropriate.
- To encourage children to use their voices to create meaningful and real-life change.
During English sessions, children have the opportunity to experience a wide range of high quality texts, which are used as models to explain and analyse the writing process. We strive to make the invisible, visible, through exploration of how words, sentences, paragraphs and whole texts are put together.
At Wrington, we seek to develop not only the enjoyment of writing, but an understanding of the use of different genre and writing for different audiences and purposes. If children are going to become effective communicators, then they need to know the features of, and recognise the need for, different text styles. They need to understand these skills are not solely for English lessons and apply this knowledge when needed in other areas of the curriculum.
We follow The Literacy Curriculum from the Literacy Tree, which uses a book-based approach to writing. In consultation with the Literacy Lead, texts are carefully mapped out for each year group, and are selected due to the needs and interests of the cohort, ensuring a balance of coverage and progression, the relevance to the wider curriculum and to maximise links with national events or themes (such as Black History Month).
The English curriculum at Wrington is made up of many different elements, which can be represented as a puzzle (see the link below).
Wrington Reading Entitlement
As well as using the The Literacy Tree texts to support children’s writing, teachers draw on other high quality books to act as models to support the development of children’s writing, and reading skills. The Wrington Reading Entitlement has a range of high quality children’s literature which has been selected through research and staff consultation, with the view to developing children’s cultural capital and well as their English skills. Each class has a specified Roald Dahl text, a named class poet, and a specific list of books from which to draw for whole class reading sessions. Each class also has a dedicated list of additional texts for use during Black History month. This prevents duplication as well as ensuring progression and coverage.
Children in Years 1-6 have a daily English lesson. Children utilise the skills that they learn in English lessons to communicate effectively in writing across the full range of subject areas.
During the lessons, children may be engaged in the following types of activities
- Children having opportunities to respond to feedback in books and revisiting prior learning
- Children having opportunities to address any whole class misconceptions from the previous lesson
- Children engaged ‘Book Talk’ (eg VIPERS – Exploring Vocabulary, Inferring, Predicting, Explaining, Summarising and Sequencing)
- Children giving each other feedback, and ‘taking risks’ by allowing others to learn from their mistakes
- Guided writing with children working on whiteboards
- ‘Short burst’ writing tasks in response to a stimulus
- Teacher and pupils engaged in creating ‘shared texts’
- Longer extended writing tasks
- Children working individually on a task, in pairs or in a small group
- Children creating story maps, diagrams or boxing-up class texts
- Spelling and handwriting tasks
- Practising of specific grammar topics, which may include the use of Schofield and Sims grammar books.
Phonics and Early Reading
For phonics and early reading information, please visit our Phonics and Early Reading page.
How is Spelling taught in school?
“Is spelling caught or taught? For the majority of children, reading extensively is not sufficient to secure accurate spelling; spelling must be taught explicitly and systematically.” M. Peters (1985)
Early Years Foundation Stage – Reception Class
In its initial stages, successful spelling depends on good phonological awareness: children must have finely tuned listening skills. Practise is provided in a range of contexts: music, dance, PE and stories. Children are exposed to rhyme, rhythm and alliteration, attuning their ears to listen carefully to the parts of a word.
We take an interactive and multisensory approach to the teaching of phonics, where all pupils are actively involved and engaged in the learning of new sounds. The emphasis is on linking the teaching and practising of letter shapes and patterns with the development of pupil’s ability to listen to, and discriminate between the sounds which make up a word. Phonics is taught on a daily basis following the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds (SSP).
Phonics is also an important aspect of our continuous provision. Children have access to a range of carefully planned games and activities, which support their developing phonetic awareness and developing reading and writing skills. (Also see Early Years Foundation Stage Policy)
Spelling - Key Stage 1
Alongside their phonics lessons, KS1 children develop their ability to segment words into phonemes and then match the most likely letter or letters to each sound by accessing the alphabetic code. Children learn how to spell a number of 'tricky words' as detailed in our phonics programme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, to enable them to write fluently. They investigate and learn to use common spelling patterns, and frequently used prefixes and inflectional endings in their own writing.
Each week from Year 1, children are introduced to a new spelling pattern, following the Twinkl spelling scheme. Teachers provide children with word searches, crosswords and handwriting sheets linked to the pattern to support their learning. These spellings lists are sent home, and also put onto Spelling Frame, which children can access at school and at home to help children learn them. Children are tested on a weekly basis in class.
Spelling - Key Stage 2
Children continue to use their phonic knowledge and their growing understanding of spelling patterns and the meanings of words to support their spelling. Children are taught that there is not always an obvious connection between pronunciation and spelling; that there are different ways of spelling the same sound.
There is an emphasis on developing confidence and assuming increased responsibility for identifying their own spelling errors and making reasoned choices about likely alternatives. They also learn to use a dictionary and thesaurus with increasing independence throughout KS2. Some children may need interventions in KS1 or KS2 to consolidate their phonic knowledge and skills.
Editing and Publishing
Children have regular opportunities to revisit, edit, proof read and improve their written work (see marking and feedback policy). Teachers provide children with ‘success criteria’, which enable children to self-assess and subsequently ‘repair’ work in class using a Purple Pen of Progress. Children write in pencil to make re-drafting and editing easier.
Children editing their work using their 'Check Specs!' and their Purple Pens of Progress
Children in Years 5 and 6, whose handwriting and presentation has reached a consistently high standard, may be issued with a ‘Pen Licence’ which entitles them to write using an ink pen for most of their written work.
Wherever possible, children’s work is celebrated through performance, display or through ‘real’ purposes (such as posting or publishing). Children’s effort and resilience may be acknowledged through verbal or written praise, and through the award of house points or certificates awarded in our whole school Celebration Service.
Children use ICT where it enhances their learning. Useful and relevant websites, software and APPs are shared by staff and details circulated as appropriate. We recognise impact and role of ICT within society, and support children’s learning of typing skills, and touch typing skills (where appropriate), alongside written script.
Year 6 recounts and letters of thanks following their Year 6 residential trip
To support children in taking responsibility for their learning, and as part of the assessment process, children are given individual writing targets, which are located inside the back cover of children’s English books. Children are encouraged and supported in reviewing their own learning targets. Once a target is achieved either within English, or in another subject, this success is celebrated and children are given a new target. (Also see, Assessment and feedback policy). We also ask children to select a piece of writing of which they are most proud, called their ‘Personal Best’, which is photocopied and retained by the child, as a reminder of their own high standards.
At Wrington Church of England Primary School, we use the Primary National Curriculum to underpin all aspects of the English curriculum. We use The Literacy Curriculum from the Literacy Tree sequences which provide the progression of skills and grammatical knowledge for each year group.
Teachers write Medium Term plans for literacy, which detail the key texts and overarching topics for the term, as well as the weekly writing outcomes. Planning provides details of SPAG (which link to the key text), opportunities for oracy and writing across the curriculum. Weekly reading comprehension sessions are included in the planning, following the Nelson Comprehension textbooks (KS2) or in or guided/practice reading sessions (EYFS / KS1. Phonics planning aligns with Little Wandle Letters and Sounds (SSP), and spelling follows the Twinkl spelling scheme. Teachers also use Spelling Frame to support children’s learning of their weekly spelling patterns, and children are encouraged to use this at home.
Handwriting begins with developing strong gross and fine motor skills, through a range of play-based activities in Reception class. Together with continuous provision of muscle strengthening activities in Reception, our youngest children are taught to link the letter shapes to sounds. This developed throughout the school to Year 6. We recognise that our children will develop pencil control skills at different rates and seek to support them at each stage.
We follow the Nelson handwriting scheme, from Reception to Year 6
- Reception – Children engage with pre-writing activities, such as ‘Write Dance’. Children are taught to link the letter shapes to the phonics being taught, following the Little Wandle letter formation scripts.
- KS1 – children being to move into a pre-cursive script where they are taught the necessary lead-ins and lead-outs for each letter group. Towards the end of KS1 children may be ready to start joining, creating cursive handwriting with the correct horizontal and diagonal strokes.
- KS2 – Children continue to learn through letter families following the Nelson scheme.
The school provides handwriting pens or pencils to suit the particular, but pencils are used most of the time to support children in editing their work. Pencil grips are also used by some children, according to need.
Additional Support and Scaffolding
We recognise that children learn in different ways and may need different strategies and approaches to support their learning during their writing journey. We believe that all children are writers and authors. Children are supported with appropriate scaffolds to ensure all children meet the learning intention for the lesson. Examples of writing scaffolds are shown below.
- Word banks and word mats
- Vocabulary lists
- Personalised resources (eg laminated word cards, reading rulers, coloured films)
- Pencil grips, writing slopes or writing guides
- Seating position
- Use of ICT
- Intervention groups - Individual learning plans (ILPs)
- Additional time for class tasks
- More frequent or longer in-school writing sessions
- Peer support
- Personalised texts
Narrative text type progression documents:
Non Fiction text type progression documents:
Assessment for Learning
Teachers use ‘Assessment for Learning’ strategies to make on-doing daily assessments of children’s learning. This information may be obtained through observations, questioning, marking of children’s work, pupil feedback and informal tests, and is used to inform teacher planning and pupil’s next steps. Teacher and pupil feedback may be written or oral, and is used to address any misconceptions and move children on in their learning. Pupils are also taught to reflect on their own learning, through the use of rubrics, and through peer marking techniques (eg two stars and a wish). Also see Assessment and Feedback Policy.
We follow the LSP assessment procedures, in which teachers assess children’s writing against specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that have been taught that term. Assessment information is uploaded to our INSIGHT data tracking system in terms 3 and 6. (Also see assessment and feedback policy).
Writing standards are moderated within our school with our Federation colleagues and within our multi-academy trust, The Lighthouse Schools Partnership (LSP). Our aim is to ensure assessment judgements are accurate, share best practice and celebrate children’s work.
Children’s writing is also monitored by the SLT through work scrutiny, learning walks and teaching observations. The subject lead will monitor planning and progress. Monitoring may involve scrutiny of children’s work, presentations and exhibitions, pupil and staff discussions, and lesson observations.
Alongside high quality lessons, based on high quality texts, we believe that children should also be provided with a rich entitlement of opportunities, which motivate and inspire children to write. Below are some pictures of some of the activities which make up the Wrington Entitlement, which help to inspire the next generation of writers and authors.
Special Days and Weeks (eg World Book Day)
Curriculum workshops (eg Robotics in Year 5)
Trips and Visits (eg Wessex Water in Year 3)
Inspirational Speakers (eg Bath Literacy Festival in Year 5)