At Godinton Primary School, we believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in Literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. Crucial to this is the development of writing skills which will begin to give our children the essential tools they need to see them through to adulthood. We believe it is important for children to be able to confidently communicate their knowledge and ideas through their writing, and exposure to high quality texts inspires creativity in their own work. We want our children to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school. Our children gather the skills needed to plan, draft and refine their written work over time and are encouraged to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement within their writing.
Writing is a crucial skill which supports children’s learning across most subjects. At Godinton it forms a core part of our Learning Adventure work. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and can manipulate language and style to create effects for the reader for a variety of purposes and audiences. We want our children to love expressing themselves through the written word and to become confident and self-assured writers.
Our writing curriculum focuses on the teaching of ten genres which are taught each year enabling the children to progress skills and build on prior learning. Repetition and reinforcement of these areas ensures that our children leave primary school being able to write confidently in the areas which will be most needed as they get older:
Biographies and autobiographies, instructional writing, letters, non-chronolgical reports, recounts, newspapers, diaries, persuasive writing, balanced arguments and story writing.
Our non-fiction curriculum gives our children the opportunity to write confidently for a variety of purposes. They are taught how to construct biographical accounts and how to produce non-chronolgical reports and letters. It is important that children are able to articulate a point of view and can consider both sides of an argument so balanced arguments and persuasive writing also form a key focus.
Fiction genres focus on our children developing the skills needed to be amazing story tellers and to write stories set in a range of contexts and situations. This may be stories with a dilemma or mystery and stories containing tension and suspense. Within this genre they develop their creativity to develop imagery, extend vocabulary and description, and are taught strategies to engage the reader which develop in complexity as the children move through the school.
Writing is taught every day and forms a large part of our timetable. Each writing genre forms a unit of work lasting 2-3 weeks. Children are taught the key skills required within each area including sentence structure, composition and effect, building up to a final finished piece which incorporates all aspects. These writing skills are developed within a context which relates to another area of curriculum focus. So, for example, diary writing may be taught within the context of the Great Fire of London and the diaries of Samuel Pepys or the skills associated with newspaper writing taught within the context of work on deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. This forms our ‘Learning Adventure’ work. We believe that by giving the children a familiar content within which to write, they are better able to focus on the skills needed to extend their writing abilities.
In writing lessons children see writing modelled so they are clear on the expectations to aspire to. Within these lessons they have the opportunity to discuss how sentences may best be constructed and to collaboratively make suggestions for vocabulary choices. They are given opportunities to work independently and to plan, draft, edit, up-level and present their writing. In Upper School, this ‘purple-pen’ work enables children to clearly indicate how they can make improvements to their work and where they can act on the feedback given to them.
Classes usually teach grammar as a separate lesson with skills and concepts being reinforced and embedded in other writing lessons. We follow a progressive scheme for the acquisition of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and spelling skills which are aligned with the national curriculum. Clear content is assigned to each year group which builds on prior learning and enables the children to progress appropriately. During their guided reading lessons, children identify how authors have used grammar, punctuation and vocabulary skills so links can be made with their own writing.
Phonics and spelling skills are also taught as separate lessons as well as being integrated into lessons to provide good consolidation. We follow a progressive structure to the development of spelling skills, aligned to the National Curriculum. Through exploring spelling patterns and rules, we aim to create confident and proficient spellers using a discrete teaching approach underpinned by phonics. Children are taught how to spell accurately and identify reasons for mis-spellings, to proof-read their spellings, recognise word origins, families and root words and to use dictionaries and thesauruses.
During the Foundation Stage at Godinton, the children are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct position and develop a legible handwriting style building on their early mark making and emergent skills. From KS1, the school adopts a cursive handwriting style which is developed as the children progress through the school. Teachers are expected to role model the school’s handwriting style when marking children’s work or writing on the board.
Teachers use assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process and link it clearly to the children’s next steps. They use a variety of formative assessment methods and constructive marking strategies to identify what the children have done well and where they need to improve. Children also self-assess their own work and use success criteria to assist them with this process.
Through the design of our writing curriculum, our children are provided with the knowledge and skills to be able to write successfully for a purpose and audience. 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 all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in Learning Adventure sessions are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific aspects of language, grammar and punctuation.
At the end of Key stage 2, it is our aim that our children reach or exceed age related expectations in writing, in line with national outcomes.