23 “I wish someone would write down everything I say. I wish my words were written on a scroll.
24 I wish they were carved with an iron tool into lead or scratched on a rock so that they would last forever. (Job 19: 23-24)
At Whitegate School, we support children in developing a love of the English language, through both the spoken and written word. We believe that literacy is not just an end in itself; it provides the key to unlock all other areas of learning and is the vehicle through which our children grow in wisdom as they develop their understanding of the world and how they can engage with life in all its fullness.
Being able to express oneself clearly and succinctly is a necessary and empowering life skill and one about which we are passionate at Whitegate. From their first days at school, children will learn, day by day, how to develop and hone their skills as a writer for a wide range of purposes. Our intent is to create writers who can express themselves creatively and imaginatively and can re-read, edit and improve their own writing through their confident use of the essential skills of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Our children are supported in their journey by adaptive teaching that ensures key gaps in pupils’ knowledge and skills are identified and addressed so that our pupils know more and remember more.
Central to our curriculum is our focus on the development of a rich vocabulary and this is evident in classroom displays and in our carefully planned sequences of lessons. Children are immersed in high-quality texts, where rich and varied vocabulary is taught explicitly and modelled by adults in school. This ‘modelled’ and ‘taught discretely’ approach to the acquisition of vocabulary supports the closing of the vocabulary gap for our most disadvantaged children and, in doing so, creates writers of the highest standards.
We use a ‘read to write’ approach in our teaching where children are taught to write with an increasing awareness of their audience. Using carefully selected, vocabulary-rich texts as a vehicle for teaching reading and writing, children are encouraged to use taught skills to practise their writing within and across the curriculum. They follow clear, sequential episodes of learning, based around model texts, which allow the development of vocabulary and contextualised spelling, punctuation and grammar. Throughout the writing process, the teacher models writing and undertakes shared writing and guided writing to develop the children’s knowledge and skills, in readiness for independent writing through which children’s passion for the written word can shine.
Through working independently and collaboratively, in a range of writing opportunities, children are able to draw on their taught skills to adapt their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
The explicit teaching of proofreading and editing skills is incorporated into our sequence of lessons and pupils are encourage to work independently and collaboratively, with a peer, to refine word and sentence level skills and to develop coherence within and across sentences, paragraphs and entire texts.
In each class, units of work follows the same structure, which is detailed below:
Spelling is taught explicitly and within reading and writing lessons. Discrete lessons, and units of work, are supported by Babcock’s No Nonsense Spelling scheme. Spelling rules and patterns are taught sequentially across year groups, along with National Curriculum year group spellings and vocabulary specific to a curriculum subject or project. Children will have a list of spellings to learn at home. These will be tested regularly, in class, and children will use a range of multi-sensory strategies to learn.
We aim to enable every child to develop a legible style of handwriting and to take pride in their presentation of work.
Children in Reception will learn to form letters without entry or exit strokes. Children in Year 1 who are correctly forming letters will be taught to begin each letter from the line, or if ready, will be taught to join their writing. Children will be taught to use entry and exit strokes once they are ready to enable them to begin to join letters whilst still in Key Stage 1. Handwriting is practised every day. Children who have not mastered correct formation in Foundation Stage will practise correct formation in handwriting books each day during handwriting sessions, beginning every letter from the top with the exception of d and e. They will learn to form letters in the following order:
c a d o g q
e s f
i l t
u y j k
r n m
h b p
v w x z
Two terms are used to describe the joins between letters: diagonal joins and washing line joins.
Diagonal joins Washing line joins
Children will be encouraged to develop an increasingly mature style of handwriting during Key Stage 2 with increasing attention being paid to presentation of work, bearing in mind the purpose and audience of the writing. Handwriting is taught at the start of each writing lesson in English books and may also incorporate a wider SPaG focus.
Every half term, our children produce high-quality, extended writing based on the vehicle text. These pieces are planned, drafted, redrafted through proofreading and editing and finally, where possible, published as an opportunity for the children’s effort and pride in the work to shine.
A range of pupils’ writing from each class is on display in school each week as part of our Writer of the Week initiative. This gives children a further opportunity for their passion and engagement with writing to shine and be celebrated.
Every term, pupils complete a ‘cold write’ task which enables teachers to identify any key gaps in pupils’ skills and knowledge. This assessment is further informed by the extended pieces of writing completed each half term linked to each class’s vehicle text.
Writing analysis grids and spelling analysis grids support teachers in their analyses and provide the starting point for how teachers plan to adapt their future teaching for all pupils, and especially the lowest 20% of learners.
Formal SPaG tests are completed in KS2 at the end of each year which provides additional information for monitoring pupils’ progress and attainment.
Pupils’ understanding, engagement and confidence in relation to their writing is also regularly ascertained through pupil voice which gives pupils the opportunity to demonstrate how they have grown in wisdom.
Each half term, at the end of each stage of the phonics programme, children complete a phoneme recognition assessment. For further information on our Phonics programme, please see our Reading curriculum page: http://www.whitegate.cheshire.sch.uk/page/becoming-readers/26768
If you have any questions about our writing curriculum, please contact Mr Thomas (subject lead) via the school office.