Writing is taught through a range of exciting stimuli which includes books, film clips, artefacts, visitors and real-life experiences. We strive to equip children to develop a rich vocabulary which can help them bring their writing to life. Basic skills and non-negotiables underpin writing in all areas of the curriculum. Teachers model the writing process and demonstrate the ambitious high standards expected of all children. Every child is encouraged to let their imagination and personality shine through in their writing.
Over their time at the school, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, poems, plays and stories of all kinds. We use drama, role-play, storytelling and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving on to vocabulary exploration, sentence craft and creative writing.
Throughout the EYFS and KS1 children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spacing’ between each word. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately, and to structure their words, whether it be fiction writing or a set of instructions. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to the work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of KS1, children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This structural and technical knowledge is fostered alongside developing a love of writing as a lifelong means for communication and expressing oneself.
By the end of their time at The Stoke Poges School, children will have been immersed in a variety of topics, imitated different genres through fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and will have written effectively with the audience and purpose of writing in mind. Cross-curricular learning offers a creative way to develop children's knowledge, skills and understanding while motivating them to learn through stimulating, interconnected topics. A learning focus which crosses subject boundaries allows for investigations that engage children's imagination whilst providing an ideal vehicle to apply their knowledge and skills.
The purpose of writing
To write as effectively as writers do, the children are encouraged to discuss the purpose for different types of writing, for example, why do we have adverts? Why do we read stories? What is the purpose of newspapers? Why do we need instructions? Through discussing the characteristics and purpose of each text type, the children become familiar with the tools needed to replicate specific types of writing.
Time is taken to discuss the different audiences for each genre of writing. Who would be interested in fairy tales? Who would read a newspaper? Who would write a letter and who would it be written to? This is to enable the children to understand why we write and who the writing is for. Different demographic groups make up a variety of audiences, and through discussions that take place in the classroom or from the children’s own experiences of reading and writing at home, children become more engaged as to why they are writing and it equips them with knowledge of writing for a range of purposes in their future.
Effectiveness of language
High quality exemplars of all genres of writing are shared with the children as part of the writing process. It helps the children to see different techniques, grammatical structures and topic-specific vocabulary being used in real life examples. Teachers try to use examples found in the real world where possible, to highlight the purpose for different types of writing in the world. Over the course of several lessons, the children will discuss the key features of each example and create a success criterion from the exemplars which may include structure, content, vocabulary and the tone of each piece.
The writing process
At The Stoke Poges School, teachers use the following steps in order for the children to build up confidence, awareness and skills needed before they write each specific genre:
- Collect it: this is where children gather information from the exemplars shared or other engaging activities to start a topic such as a school trip or visitor. Children can collect vocabulary, subject-specific language and experiences of the topic they are studying.
- Language lines: to develop vocabulary, sentence structure and to add in SPAG focus, to reassess their first thoughts and up-level language used by using a thesaurus or word banks available in class.
- Deconstruct it: sharing examples of writing is crucial. Children can pick out the sentence structure, key features, spelling words, grammatical structures, audience and purpose as part of the collaborative success criteria.
- Construct it: this is where any new learning for the final piece will take place, for example teaching the use of fronted adverbials and allow children to produce some writing including fronted adverbials as a form of practising the new skill. Teachers will model sections of writing, revise the purpose of the text and discuss the effectiveness of language.
- Plan it: by this stage the children should be well equipped with the knowledge and vocabulary, the tone of language, structure, audience and purpose for the piece of writing. Children should have an organised plan which has been built-up from the collect it stage and developed extensively.
- Write it: the children will write the final piece, using their plan, language lines and developed ideas, SPAG focus and high-level vocabulary throughout. This does not need to be a free write; children will still need guidance and time for reflection especially with longer pieces of writing.
- Edit it: children can edit their own work or that of others, using the objectives taught throughout this process. Allow the children to evaluate specifics such as punctuation or to evaluate the effectiveness of SPAG focus or the language used throughout.
We follow the Nelson scheme for handwriting.
Beautiful handwriting comes from excellent modelling, and our teachers follow the Nelson script when demonstrating writing. We know this takes practice, and from Reception to Year 6, children have the opportunity to practise the Nelson script in as part of their Guided Reading carousel activities. This starts with mark making and pattern tracing in EYFS for pencil control and development of fine motor skills, to legible, joined handwriting and the opportunity to earn a pen license and badge from Year 3.
Spelling and Grammar
From the earliest stage in their schooling, our children are taught to recognise the features of different text styles whilst reading in order to inform their writing. Writing for a range of purposes requires the use of varied sentence models and ambitious vocabulary. They then learn to shape these sentences into coherent paragraphs before planning and creating their own original works of fiction and non-fiction. In order to do this successfully, children need to be explicitly taught the conventions of spelling, punctuation and grammar first, being applying the knowledge into their writing.
Spelling lists are given out on a weekly basis. These are lists based upon the National Curriculum spelling words, which touch on several different ‘rules’ as well as commonly misspelled words. Every week, a new rule is taught, and children have the opportunity to embed their new learning as part of a Guided Reading carousel activity, as well as a homework task. The words are then tested after a week of learning.
Punctuation and grammar lessons are taught as a component within English lessons in the Early Years Stage and Key Stage One, and as a discrete weekly lesson in Key Stage Two. Lessons build upon prior knowledge of the year before, often recapping and refreshing previously taught skills, before learning more complex and sophisticated grammatical conventions, as well as correct use of punctuation. These new skills are often sent home as homework tasks to consolidate and embed learning.
English is fun!
We know that knowledge cannot be embedded if learners are not involved, and that involvement should be fun! For this reason, we spend a lot of time planning exciting annual events to enthuse our pupils and encourage a love of reading and writing.
Our pupils have enjoyed author visits from Dan Freedman, author of the Jamie Johnson series, CLPE Children’s Poetry Award winner Karl Nova, and author and illustrator of the popular Clive series, Jessica Spanyol. We have also had some special surprises from the bestselling author of the Inkheart series, Cornelia Funke.
World Book Day
The week encompassing World Book Day is a major event on the school calendar. Our annual celebrations include a ‘Great Bookish Bake-Off’ competition, a class swap with special book-themed lessons, the essential dress-up day and the climax: The Mastermind challenge.