“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
At Eastry Church of England Primary School we believe that a high-quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of our literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We want children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and to use discussion to communicate ideas, express themselves clearly and articulately and further their learning, throughout their lives.
All pupils will be taught to communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions confidently, creatively, effectively and clearly through their writing. We believe that the best way to achieve this is to provide our pupils with rich and varied learning opportunities and experiences, to help them become confident and enthusiastic learners.
We want children to develop a love of language and literature and to understand that language skills are an essential life skill. We know it is important for our pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and its functions, as well as to be able to spell new words by successfully applying the spelling rules and patterns they have learnt. Well-planned links are made across our broad and balanced curriculum, to ensure that written activities are meaningful enabling pupils to communicate their ideas in a variety of contexts, purposes and audiences.
We want children to see themselves as authors, experts and poets and to take pride in the presentation of their learning. We aim to develop children’s independence and perseverance by consistently editing, refining and improving their writing throughout the writing process.
We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
We understand and value the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children’s learning and want to encourage a home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to reinforce the English skills taught in school, for example reading for pleasure, discussing stories shared, reflecting on the day’s events, as well as appreciating the importance of texts used in ‘real’ life for information and instruction. We will provide relevant information, links and documents to help parents and carers to support their children’s learning.
Writing is planned and taught as whole class lessons, where all pupils have access to the age-related skills and knowledge following the EYFS Framework and the National Curriculum and follow a clear, progressive plan continually building on skills. Whilst the National Curriculum forms the foundation of our curriculum, we make sure that children learn additional skills, knowledge and understanding and enhance our curriculum as and when necessary
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum.
We want our pupils to speak clearly, be articulate, convey their ideas confidently and ask questions.
We use some of the strategies employed by the ‘Talk for Writing’ concept to support this throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1. Children are taught to write imaginative and articulate texts using this approach.
The key components are the imitation stage, which includes oral rehearsal and performance to develop familiarisation with a text, leading to the innovation stage, where children can develop their own similar ideas and vocabulary and finally the independent application, where children will have the necessary tools to write with increasing confidence and capability.
Children will continue to use strategies from Talk for Writing in Key Stage 2, such as text maps (to support oral rehearsal and familiarisation), scaffolding, boxing up, writing toolkits, model texts and word banks.
‘The movement from imitation to innovation to independent application can be adapted to suit the needs of learners of any stage’ (Talk for Writing website)
‘The approach moves from dependence towards independence, with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully’ (The Talk for Writing approach)
To ensure progress is ongoing, we also use a ‘slow writing’ initiative that teaches the children the key elements of effective sentence building. As part of this process, children are encouraged to start with simple sentences and identify how their sentence can be extended to include further detail and interest, one step at a time. It may begin with use of a powerful verb (sprinted) and then move on to an equally powerful supporting adverb (energetically) to build the sentence. Children can see how these words would create more impact in their writing; rather than just ‘ran fast’!
To ensure that children are secure in a variety of age appropriate writing techniques, we have a progression document which details the different sentence types to be taught in each year group. The sentence types are designed to help the children write exciting, sophisticated pieces of writing that use the right tone for their purpose.
Further support and engaging stimuli will be provided by the use of film, imagery, drama and computing, as well as written text.
Teachers will use modelled, shared and guided writing activities. Lessons will be appropriately differentiated, scaffolded and extended to allow all pupils to achieve.
Working walls are used as a tool for effective reinforcement of skills and will include key features of the genre being taught and most importantly, the key terminology and vocabulary that are required to allow children to express their ideas successfully in their associated writing.
We aim for our pupils to develop skills to develop their writing stamina and ability at the age expected standard or above.
Each year group have a yearly overview of writing genre planned, which includes a variety of both narrative and non-narrative texts, and texts of different lengths.
Spelling: - The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 and early KS2. We use Read Write Inc for our phonics teaching to enable accurate blending and segmenting of sounds. The Read Write Inc. approach also encompasses integrated comprehension, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and handwriting activities.
More competent spellers in KS2 are taught according to the rules and words in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum.
Grammar and Punctuation: - Grammar and punctuation skills are taught through English lessons by mini tasks and activities that link to the writing genre, enabling children to understand the function and apply the skills immediately and understanding what words and structures help them achieve their meaning and intentions in their writing. Teachers sometimes focus on stand-alone grammar lessons if they feel the class need to embed or consolidate a particular skill. To ensure progression, each year group follows a list of key objectives in grammar (see NC) which build competency.
Handwriting & presentation: - pupils are taught to use cursive script from EYFS onwards and are encouraged and expected to join their handwriting as they progress through the school. We consider good presentation to be an important element of writing and nurture a culture where the pupils take pride in their work. Handwriting is taught discretely and correct formation and neat presentation is reinforced daily across all lessons.
The high profile of English throughout will be promoted through activities such as whole school writing challenges and competitions, World Book Day, class writer awards (Clip it, clap it), dojo points, author visits and sharing of our children’s successes and perseverance in writing.
Resources to support learners with a range of needs
To enable all children to access the curriculum and develop their confidence in writing, a range of concrete resources, visual aids and adult interventions are implemented, to support children across the key stages.
Examples of classroom resources:
Differentiated writing templates to help children structure their writing appropriately for the genre
Task boards to give simple step-by-step instructions for individual learners
Word banks and word mats to support spelling and encourage use of ambitious vocabulary
Individual whiteboards- for oral rehearsal and planning of sentences before ‘pen-to-paper’
Differentiated writing implements eg pen/pencil grips to aid fine-motor control
Laptops as an alternative to handwriting
Alternative methods of recording eg mind maps, posters, story-maps, photographs etc
Whole-class teacher modelling and scaffolding of writing expectations
Focused spelling practise, according to needs of learners (possibly ‘Toe-by-Toe’)
‘Nessy Fingers’ speed typing programme
1-1 conferencing for individualised target setting and follow-up practise
Targeted in-class adult support for individual children
In KS1 and KS2, children’s writing is ‘teacher assessed’ alongside the ‘21 steps for writing’ document and is evidenced from children’s writing books, from across the whole curriculum.
The document is broken down into progressive steps under specific strands (see below). There are three steps for each year group. A fourth section specifies the full end of year expectations for each year group. The 21 steps for writing have been organized into the following strands:
Writing transcription: Spelling and handwriting
Writing Composition: Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
‘Teachers must base their teacher assessment judgement on a broad range of evidence from across the curriculum for each pupil. To demonstrate that pupils have met the standard, teachers will need evidence that a pupil demonstrates consistent attainment within all statements in that standard’.
Teachers moderate examples of children’s writing with other teachers, both internally (at Eastry) and externally (with other local schools) to guarantee a fair judgement and assessment of the children’s writing attainment.
In the EYFS, writing is teacher assessed and moderated using Development Matters and the EYFS Profile.
‘Early Learning Goal- Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible’.
Pupils will enjoy writing across a range of genres, and apply their skills in cross curricular topics.
Pupils will have a wide range of vocabulary available to them to use within their writing.
Pupils will understand how to adapt their writing to suit context, purpose or audience.
Pupils will be able to apply the spelling rules and patterns they have been taught.
Parents and carers will have a good understanding of how they can support their children’s learning.
Pupils of all abilities will succeed in all English lessons as tasks will be both appropriately scaffolded and challenging.
Pupils will be well-equipped to confidently communicate their knowledge, understanding, ideas and questions, as they become part of the wider world and community.
We continue to embed our school values throughout all aspects of our English curriculum and provide opportunities for engagement, creativity challenge and perseverance. Children are provided with further opportunities to build their key skills and enhance them in the wider curriculum. The children’s learning is shaped through exciting and interesting themes, which provide them with a wide range of varied learning experiences.
We hope that as our pupils move on in their learning journey from Eastry, that their creativity, love for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop with them.