Writing Curriculum Intent
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. Andy Tharby states the essentials of an ambitious English curriculum to be: an understanding that the subject is an inter-connected body of knowledge; teaching is always supported by ambitious text choices; it places great literature at the heart of every lesson, it hinges on subtle and sensitive modelling, places a great value on words and gives students lots and lots of writing practice. These are values which underpin our bespoke writing curriculum for the pupils of Coleridge.
At Coleridge Primary School, we aim to offer opportunities for children to:
- Foster an understanding and enjoyment of writing through exposure to our ambitious curriculum and exemplar texts and models
- Have experience of and deep engagement with a broad and balanced range of texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and show progression within these experiences
- Develop their ability to innovate from and respond to a range of authors, writers, genres, written forms and media
- Promote opportunities within writing, as in other areas of our curriculum, that promote diversity and respond to a range of themes that encourage our pupils to think critically
- Develop their use of a broad and rich vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and spelling within a wide range of opportunities to produce writing for different purposes, across the curriculum
- Show development of knowledge through the use of a writing book and a writing folder
- Become confident and competent at planning, discussing, drafting, writing, evaluating and editing in order to leave primary school with the skills to flourish as writers moving through the next phase of their education and into adulthood so that they have every opportunity to succeed
- Engage in rich speaking, listening and reading activities as an integral priority, which enables writing, as James Britton said, to float on a sea of talk.
Teachers hold high and secure expectations of writing across the curriculum. Exposure to a variety of curricular areas encourages a range of writers and writing styles. Writing is a crucial skill that is embedded across all year groups; consolidation of fine motor skills and phonic strategies are implemented in EYFS and KS1 and building confidence and stamina with a range of extended pieces is developed in KS1 and further developed in KS2. We are intent on our pupils leaving Coleridge with a certainty that they are able to communicate effectively in writing – and to enjoy being able to express themselves in this way.
Evidence suggests that the cultural capital passed on through families helps children do better in school. Research within our locality suggests that for many of our children, this is a gap we must bridge. We value this in English, as the National Curriculum defines it to be, ‘It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’ We strive to ensure that our pupils are confident writers, able to make informed decisions about what culture they consume and participate in, having opened them up to a breadth of experience through our rich diet of texts and opportunities to write. As outlined in our curriculum plans, we expose the children to a wide array of authors, from different backgrounds, cultures and points in history, and we enhance understanding through carefully planned enrichment opportunities; we ensure that children have a broad experience in developing their knowledge and skills across a breadth of writing. We consider carefully the progressive subject specific skills and vocabulary that children should be exposed to and use each year and we consider links, texts and written forms across the curriculum and beyond so that learning becomes more embedded and a love for the subject beyond the classroom is encouraged.
‘When I read great literature, great drama, speeches, or sermons, I feel that the human mind has not achieved anything greater than the ability to share feelings and thoughts through language.’ James Earl Jones
Writing Curriculum Implementation
In line with the National Curriculum (2014), we ensure that children in each year group are taught the explicit grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for their key stage. All children write daily, in an English session, and across the curriculum. Teachers plan writing based on the three phases of each two or three week sequence (see image below), which include planned opportunities for talk, appropriate drama opportunities and speaking and listening activities to develop creativity and a greater depth of understanding of viewpoint and purpose. Often, writing in English lessons responds to the high-quality text being studied, but occasionally other purposes and reasons for writing are planned for, including visits out of school or links with in-school initiatives and systems such as Coleridge Leads the Way. The high quality texts used ensure not only clear progression through the different year groups, but act as high-quality language models to immerse children in rich vocabulary and to exemplify how authors use grammar to have an intended impact on readers. Each year group has a yearly overview of the writing purposes, both narrative and non-fiction. These have been planned to ensure correct coverage of the key genres as well as build on skills from year to year. The outcome of each sequence is an independent piece of writing which will is used to assess pupils’ skills against the Key Performance Indicators for their year, as well as checking that pupils are still applying the grammar and punctuation taught previously.
Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum, which are mapped out to ensure each rule or group of words has sufficient teaching and practice time. Teachers use engaging resources, including practical activities, as well as resources and teaching ideas outlined on No Nonsense Spelling, as and when teachers feel appropriate to supplement lessons and to provide activities that link to the fortnightly spellings. Children are introduced to the new spellings at the start of each sequence and then five lessons are dedicated to teaching and practising the new rule, patterns and associated words, which is supplemented by additional practice time in some handwriting lessons. Spelling work is recorded in the back of English books and spellings are sent home to encourage additional opportunities to practise and apply new words. When marking work, teachers identify words that children have spelt incorrectly from within that child’s known ability and pupils will practise these as part of editing or next step time. The statutory word lists outlined in the National Curriculum are broken down on the curriculum map and displayed progressively in the classroom environments for children to refer to. Children are encouraged to use purple pens to exemplify where they have included these words in their writing.
Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary
Research by Debra Myhill and the University of Exeter shows that teaching grammar meaningfully to the text type of writing being taught has a significant effect on attainment in writing. We want children to be able to make links between the grammar they are taught and the grammatical choices they make in their writing so punctuation and grammar knowledge and skills are taught contextually through English lessons as much as possible. Children are able to make links between the grammatical choices they are making and the intended impact within the piece of writing. Key pedagogical principles that underpin our writing curriculum incorporate the LEAD model:
Links: Make a link between the grammar being introduced and how it works in the writing being taught;
Examples: Explain the grammar through examples, not lengthy explanations;
Authenticity: Use examples from authentic texts to link writers to the broader community of writers;
Discussion: Build in high-quality discussion about grammar and its effects. Language play, experimentation, risk-taking and games are actively encouraged.
To underpin this approach, a curriculum map has been created to match the most appropriate skills with the genres being taught, in line with the National Curriculum. This allows teachers to focus on how to teach, rather than what to teach. It demonstrates our coherently sequenced, spiralised curriculum, with frequent opportunities to revisit, apply and embed taught skills. Teachers use the curriculum maps to teach the required skills through the purpose of writing that they are teaching to make them more connected with the intended writing outcome. Children are exposed to exemplar models containing rich vocabulary as well as the grammar being taught, in line with the text-led contextualised approach taken in school. Teachers make careful considerations about Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary, and refer to the progression of vocabulary maps for wider curriculum subjects. Teachers write model texts (WAGOLLs) and worked examples that children analyse and refer back to in order to ensure modelling supports the teaching of the outlined grammar and punctuation being taught. Vocabulary development is interwoven within each sequence and across subjects, using scaffolds such as Frayer models and zones of relevance to help children understand and use new and ambitious vocabulary; word class walls and the English working wall in each classroom further support this approach. Retrieval practice opportunities are used regularly in connecting learning slides at the beginning of lessons to allow children many opportunities to recall, link and build on prior knowledge.
Following whole-school training, we use the, ‘Martin Harvey ISHA’ handwriting scheme. Handwriting is taught explicitly in lessons and in context, when the teacher models correct letter formation. In EYFS and Year 1, children are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct position and use a printed letter formation which is a wonderful starting point for them as they move to a cursive style during KS1. All books, across the curriculum – with the exception of sketchbooks – have handwriting lines in them, beginning at size 1 and progressing to size 4 as children refine their skills. Children have the opportunity to write on plain paper, with the use of the corresponding line guides, to ensure that high expectations remain in place for handwriting, in every lesson.
Teachers will use ongoing teacher assessment to determine whether a child is working within age-related expectations, above or below. They will base their judgements on the quality of the independent write that pupils produce at the end of each unit. Assessments are moderated internally as well as with our cluster of schools externally and at local authority moderation meetings. In addition to this, NFER grammar and spelling tests are used in Year 3, 4 and 5 and previous SAT papers are used in Y2 and Y6 at three assessment points throughout the year to feed into ongoing teacher assessment.
Writing Curriculum Impact
The impact of our Writing curriculum, including spelling, grammar and punctuation and handwriting, will be shown through:
- Summative assessment of grammatical knowledge and spelling, using NFER tests and SAT papers. End of key stage assessments will demonstrate progress and attainment in line with, or exceeding, children’s starting points and national standards.
- Teacher assessment of writing using independently written pieces to provide evidence of national curriculum skills and understanding.
- Termly moderation of writing with individual year groups, cross phase and externally, providing robust judgements.
- Monitoring of progress from year to year and key stage to key stage, ensuring pupils remain ‘on track’ from their starting points. If a pupil is identified as not on track, they have appropriate support and/or intervention to catch up.
- In-year monitoring of books and folders, alongside pupil voice, show clear evidence of the use of vocabulary, spelling, grammatical understanding, punctuation understanding and text-type knowledge.
- Improvement in handwriting and presentation impacts positively on self-esteem, as indicated in pupil voice activities, which in turn supports our school’s ambitious personal development curriculum.
The impact on our children is that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to write successfully for a range of purposes and audiences. With the implementation of the writing sequence being established and taught in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and have the ability to plan, draft, edit and publish their own writing. By the end of key stage 2 children have developed a writer’s craft; they enjoy sustained writing and can manipulate language, grammar and punctuation to create effect. As such frequent opportunities to write are built into the curriculum at Coleridge, consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific language, grammar and punctuation is enabled, meaning that children leave school ready to access the written demands of the secondary curriculum and beyond.
Each half term, the knowledge and objectives that children need to be taught or revisit are outlined on our curriculum maps; this means that teachers can spend their time thinking about how to best deliver the content of lessons rather than what they will need to teach. It enables us to ensure a rich and balanced coverage of not only the knowledge outlined on the National Curriculum but means that genres have been taught and revisited enough times that we are confident children have a secure understanding of the different purposes for writing and which outcomes might be best suited to get intended messages across to a reader. Please find attached an example of one of these curriculum maps.
Teachers use the following grids (please find attached a Year 4 example) to make assessments about evidence found within children’s writing. Pupils in Year 2 and Year 6 will also have their work assessed against the Teacher Assessment Frameworks.
Please see below for our curriculum overviews for KS2 spelling:
Here is a detailed breakdown of how spelling lessons are taught at Coleridge:
Please find below information from OFSTED’s recent research review of English (23rd May 2022), which relates directly to the best practice teaching of handwriting in school and aligns completely with the approach and decisions made about how handwriting is taught at Coleridge.
There is also evidence that repeated practice in handwriting, going beyond accuracy to fluency, leads to success in higher-level writing tasks. Skilful handwriting has an impact on composition. According to 2 meta-analyses of research on handwriting instruction, teaching handwriting is closely associated with the quality, length and fluency of writing. As these meta-analyses showed, teaching handwriting can improve writing because the pupil can spend more time planning, thinking about content and constructing the sentences.