At Seascale School, we know writing is an essential part of communication needed throughout life. We believe children should be given every opportunity to develop the skills they need to write with confidence and purpose so that they can convey their ideas, emotions and knowledge through writing. We want children to be confident in applying grammar, vocabulary and spelling rules in their writing which will enable them to compose a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Children are encouraged to take pride in their work through high-quality presentation and neat handwriting.
In EYFS, we use the ‘Physical Development’ and ‘Literacy and Expressive Arts and Design’ strands of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework to focus on writing development. Writing is broken down into developing fine and gross motor movements where children develop the essential skills needed for the physical act of writing. These activities include outdoor learning, woodland classroom time, mark making through a range of mediums and equipment including sensory experiences. Children are given opportunities to develop their fine motor skills through daily funky fingers activities and the use of play-doh, for example.
From Nursery, children are given an independent mark-making book where they draw freely and adults scribe their thoughts so children make links to the written word. In Reception, children take part in adult-led Shared Writing sessions which scaffold their own independent writing; helping them understand that they too can write for a purpose. Emphasis is placed on letter shapes, letter spacing and the application of their phonic knowledge in writing.
From Key Stage 1, children enjoy a daily English lesson. Power of Reading and Hamilton Trust schemes are used in our long-term plan to inspire children to write using a text-based approach. Children both enjoy and learn from high-quality texts which form the basis of our planning across English and stimulate a range of writing tasks. Units are chosen carefully to meet the requirement of the National Curriculum and offer children the chance to revisit previous learning which can be mastered and improved as they progress.
A combination of approaches and methods are used to teach writing in school:
- Writing skills are further developed in group guided writing sessions.
- Pupils practise writing through independent and paired writing tasks.
- Pupils are given opportunities to plan, draft, edit and re-draft their own writing.
- Pupils use their writing skills to communicate across the curriculum, and expectations for writing are high in all areas of learning.
- Pupils are given the opportunity to write for a real purpose, and to publicise their work through display and the school website.
- Teachers provide resources and support to the least confident.
- We use checklists for pupils to self-assess or peer assess, when appropriate so they can evaluate effectively.
- Children understand that writing is a process and not a one-off task.
From Year 2, children follow the No Nonsense Spelling scheme to learn spelling rules and patterns to apply to their writing. Our spelling teaching is underpinned by phonics with all children still encouraged to use phonetic knowledge where possible to spell new words. Children proof-read both independently and with partners to spell-check their work and all are encouraged to use dictionaries to aid the spelling process. Readiwriter is a resource used alongside spelling lessons that allows children to further practise focus spellings and rules.
Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary
Each aspect of grammar and punctuation is planned carefully into our English units to match the text type being studied and all expectations of the National Curriculum. This is then explicitly taught and children are expected to apply this in writing to demonstrate understanding. Teachers then assess grammar and punctuation within our writing assessments and use this to inform next steps. We believe that vocabulary is ‘taught not caught’ and ensure this is given high priority in class. Focus words are displayed and children expected to apply them in writing.
Gross and fine motor skills are the foundation of developing correct handwriting. From EYFS, children are given opportunities to develop and strengthen these skills. They are taught how to hold a pencil correctly and form legible letters. From Year 1, children are explicitly taught to use cursive handwriting. Teachers are expected to model this while teaching, marking and on displays. We the use ‘Join It’ font as the basis of our letter formation to model to the children.
Progress towards the Early Learning Goals in the early years is monitored formally at the end of the Reception Year.
Formative assessment takes place regularly where teachers give feedback to children through verbal and written comments in line with the marking policy. Each term, writing is summatively assessed using our Assertive Mentoring spreadsheets to measure progress against the national curriculum standards for each year group. These are tracked and monitored regularly by class teachers and senior leaders to identify areas of need and next steps. Spelling is assessed at the beginning and end of year using Schonell to measure progress alongside regular spelling homework and monitoring of Readiwriter.
By the end of Key Stage 2, our children will write confidently across a range of texts, for a range of purposes and with increasing accuracy and creativity. They will choose vocabulary, grammar and punctuation for purpose and effect. As established writers, they will understand the writing process and the need to continually plan, draft, edit and re-draft their work. They will take pride in their writing and write with stamina not only in English but across all curriculum subjects where these writing skills are transferrable.