Producing a piece of writing is the accumulation of many skills, such as fine motor skills, spelling knowledge, sentence construction, vocabulary choice, awareness of genre features and authorial intent. It is essential that these skills are taught in a meaningful context with high quality models to engage and enthuse children from an early age.
At St. Sebastian’s whether a child is in nursery or year 6 we strive for all children to be able to express themselves with clarity, coherence, and in an organised manner which they will ultimately be able to utilise to develop their academic studies, employment success or as a helpful way to express feelings that cannot be expressed so easily by speaking. Through developing a child’s wrist strength, phonetic knowledge, widening and deepening their experience of high quality texts and the world through high quality discussions with teachers, we can expect more sophisticated writing skills and the completion of more sophisticated tasks through their writing.
It is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to write legibly, fluently and coherently with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.
At St. Sebastian’s our writing aims are:
- To promote writing for pleasure.
- To promote confidence and positive attitudes to writing through a wide range of experiences and purposeful writing tasks.
- To develop a final piece of work that displays the skills (spelling, grammar, punctuation, vocabulary and composition) at age related expectations or at a level which exceeds them.
- To experiment with a broader vocabulary by orally rehearsing before writing.
- To monitor each child’s progress with a range of assessment strategies including a half-termly mark sheet to identify gaps in children’ text composition, spelling, punctuation and grammar skills; a termly spelling assessment of age expected words; and a termly grammar and punctuation assessment of age expected objectives.
- To support those children who require additional support with their writing. The school is determined that every pupil will learn to write, regardless of their background, needs or abilities.
- The school has clear expectations of pupils’ composition, spelling, punctuation and grammar progress term by term, from Reception to Year 6, and the school’s phonics programme aligns with these expectations
- The sequence of modelled texts shows a cumulative progression in composition, spelling, grammar, and punctuation that is closely matched to the school's writing programme.
Each units of work centres on engaging vocabulary-rich texts, with a wealth of writing opportunities. Each unit provides a narrative and non-fiction outcome meaning that our children are exposed to, and produce, writing from a range of genres and for a range of purposes. The carefully selected Vehicle Texts frequently have strong thematic links to the Science, History and Geography curriculum which means that quality writing is embedded across all subject areas.
Each unit follows the four-phased approach of immerse, analyse, plan and write
- At the start of each unit, children are immersed in a high-quality vehicle text. Children will complete an engaging activity e.g. mini drama, power photography, evocative music, analysing and illustration, to provide a shared activity which provides a rich back drop to generate language.
- During the next phase of learning, children will analyse the vocabulary used in the example text. Children will analyse grammatical features that have been used and engage in the explicit teaching of these
- Throughout the creating a model stage, teachers demonstrate creating sentences to build up a text. Ensuring sentences are genre appropriate and also meet the needs of their pupils. Teachers understand the dual nature of demonstration to be showing the articulation of thinking in the writer’s brain whilst crafting and constructing sentences. Pupils have a clear understanding of what they are observing during the demonstration stage.
- Sentence stacking lessons are used consistently across the school which gives pupils a supportive scaffold to learn spelling, grammar, punctuation and composition objectives through a sense of the whole text.
- Pupils use Kagan strategies to generate spoken ideas and write them down. Whole class ideas are orally suggested and individual pupils audit their word bank and add additional words. All pupils have clear scaffolds in place. Higher attaining pupils deepen the moment by using two lenses from the FANTASTICS.
The final phase of the unit is the writing phase. Children will finally produce a high-quality independent piece of writing, applying all taught skills and knowledge from the unit. Once completed children will then revise and edit their piece of writing
- Every half term, the children are assessed in their writing through class work and explicit assessment. Each term teachers moderate in pairs. These assessments are entered into Otrack and are used to inform planning and stimulate any additional learning required for the children (catch up or intensive programs).
- New arrivals to the school are assessed on entry to check their spelling, grammar, punctuation and composition, and targeted support is implemented to ensure rapid progress.
The focus in Nursery is on fine and gross motor skills. By the end of Nursery the children will have secured the correct pencil tripod grip and apply the correct pressure. This will be developed by the use of playdough, and other malleable materials. The children will also practise the physical movement of letter formation.
It is the intention that all children will start Reception at the required level from Nursery. Any new starters will be assessed upon entry and interventions put in place to secure the correct pencil grip and pressure. The children will start on purple handwriting books and be taught the correct letter formation from the RWI Phonics Programme with no leads or flicks.
In Year 1, any special friends taught from the RWI Phonics Programme will be modelled joined together (holding hands). As soon as correct letter formation is secured, the children will be taught the letters with leads and flicks and begin joining.
In the autumn term, the children will continue with joining in the purple handwriting books. In the spring term the children will start red handwriting books, with smaller guided lines. By the summer term the children will be working in the gold exercise book.
Key Stage Two continues to refine the skills concentrating on joining letters with increased pace and uniformity of size for ascending and descending letters.
Any child who is not on track with the above will receive small group intervention to close the gap.
- RWI is taught daily throughout EYFS and Key Stage One. The children are assessed half-termly and placed in homogenous groups to ensure rapid progress. Any child at risk of not meeting expectations is given targeted support and monitored closely.
- A spelling rule is introduced each week in key stage two. RWI spelling activities are taught daily. These are assessed each week and expected to be used independently in a written piece.
As a result of the above we have children who have a 'Can do' attitude towards writing. They consider themselves to be authors and they thrive on showcasing their work. They are confident to take risks, try new things and hold engaging conversations about writing and what makes a good author.
- All pupils, including the weakest writers, make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age-related expectations.
- The children have confidence and enjoy sharing their writing and achieve a sense of pride in their work. They can develop their own strengths and weaknesses to improve
- They develop and maintain enthusiasm and interest in writing and are familiar with a range of different genres and authors styles.
- They adapt their writing style and vocabulary choice for non-fiction and fiction writing. They can use formal language and Standard English effectively.
- They can utilise research from a library or the internet to develop and communicate their understanding of a subject.
- The children can confidently spell high frequency, common exception words and etymological and morphological words appropriate for their age group.
- They show confidence in expression and children use age related vocabulary- orally and in writing.
- Children achieve expected or above expected standard in their writing assessment in statutory end of key stage assessments.
- There will be no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non disadvantaged)
The Writing curriculum is evaluated through:
- Regular checks on the quality of writing in English and curriculum books via learning walks, drop-ins, pupil voice and work scrutinies.
- Summative assessment occurs when moderating across year groups externally with other local schools. These are carried out 3 times a year.
- Summative assessment occurs when moderating across key stages internally, these are carried out 3 times a year, unless the teacher wishes to moderate with the English lead more frequently. The analysis of this is used to identify areas of development and any children who are not making expected progress.