The development of writing cannot be seen in isolation from reading, speaking and listening/drama. The best writers are the best readers - we read as writers and write as readers! Strategies for writing, speaking and listening/drama, therefore, form an integral part of our whole school approach to literacy.
Writing is essentially a combination of many skills and has therefore many different elements. These include handwriting, spelling, punctuation, grammar and an ability to compose for understanding and effect with a range of different audiences and for different purposes. Furthermore, life experience, exposure to ideas, books, places and events also contribute to a child's ability to become a good writer.
The children begin their writing journey at St Mary's by writing for purpose in Early Years. We teach the Talk4Writing approach from the end of their first year and this is followed throughout KS1 and into KS2. The children begin by retelling a story using actions. They then write the story using a Best Map. Finally, they create their own piece of writing by improving the original piece and making their own choices.
Children are also encouraged to edit their work, either independently, with a partner, or teacher. They use a green pen to show where they have corrected or improved their work
We encourage the use of Talk Partners to share ideas for writing and orally rehearse sentences. We firmly believe that being able to share and discuss before putting pen to paper significantly improves the quality of work produced. Throughout all of our lessons, it is a key feature.
Shared writing is used to model writing and develop compositional and grammar skills together before the children go on to work independently.
Vocabulary is a key area of focus in all of our subjects across the school. Our Working Walls display key vocabulary for our children to understand and use in their own work.
Throughout KS2 children become more expert in the writing process of planning, drafting, writing, evaluating, editing and publishing. Our ‘writing curriculum overviews’ (that are linked to our reading spine) demonstrate the progression of skills across the school. Our carefully chosen, diverse texts often link to other topics that we are covering so that children can become fully immersed where possible in either the time period in History, specific issue or process in Geography or a concept in Science. This helps children to make links between their learning and helps subject-specific vocabulary really stick.
We make sure that we give children opportunities for drama activities to help them empathise with characters and immerse themselves in sensory experiences. All of this helps to enhance their creativity within writing.
We use clearly structured working walls to ensure children know which genre they are writing about, the purpose of their writing, any focus words for each week, their spelling rule for the week and provides them with clear models for what they are aiming for (either through previously written examples or modelled or shared writing. Here is an example of a working wall in action.
Children’s final published pieces are celebrated around the school through exciting writing displays for each year group.
Children are encouraged to actively take part in their own evaluation and improvement of their writing skills by self-editing regularly, assessing work produced by their peers and actively engaging with their own personalised targets.
We encourage a love of writing by engaging in school-wide writing events where children can themselves become published writers.
At St Mary’s, children learn to produce legible and fluent handwriting by using the Pen Pals scheme.
In KS1 and lower KS2 children undertake discrete handwriting sessions 2-3 times a week and by years 5 and 6 children may only undertake these types of sessions when needed. E.g. as interventions or for particular joins.
By the end of KS2 children are expected to write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed.
Presentation is highly valued at St Mary’s and this is reflected in children’s books and the work that they produce in all curriculum areas. As with spelling, the more fluently children are able to write then the freer they are to focus on other aspects of their writing.