At Silverdale Primary Academy, we believe that success in writing is developed through a mastery curriculum approach which builds of the pupils experience of reading. This is why we prioritise Reading as a key tool for life. We believe that a love of and an ability to Read is a key indicator of success in the future. We are determined to develop lifelong readers and effective communicators through the provision of language rich learning environments, systematic and creative approaches to teaching.
A child who has heard many stories and is familiar with a wide range of conventions in different text types will be able to draw on them in their own writing. We aim to provide a wide range of high-quality model texts with a rich vocabulary, that pupils can accurately apply and creatively innovate from. Furthermore, we aim to provide frequent, purposeful and varied opportunities to write across the curriculum, enabling the children to make judgements concerning the tone, style, format and vocabulary appropriate to the audience.
Early writing is taught through the development of gross motor, fine motor skills and early mark making, then when the children begin RWI phonics they are taught the letter formations. This begins with writing (whether with a writing tool or in the air) letters, then CVC words and moving onto short sentences using the sounds they have been taught. This process continues into Year 1, where children are encouraged to use the sounds they have been taught and have separate writing lessons in addition to phonics. The phonics programme also includes elements of spelling and has a specific writing focus linked to the story books used in Phonics. In addition to phonics, children in EYFS receive provision for Writing using Talk for Writing and based on the class texts where they get the opportunity to use the skills they have learnt in phonics.
From Year 1 and above, based on the National Curriculum, we teach writing using Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing approach, employing the three stages of imitation, innovation, and invention to a range of non-fiction, fiction and poetry genres.
Our long-term English plan is a Mastery Curriculum that ensures that core knowledge is carefully sequenced through different genres that are mapped out across each year group. This core knowledge is planned so that prior knowledge can be built on progressively from Nursery to Year 6. High quality texts are used to model the language, vocabulary, structure, punctuation, and grammar that we expect our pupils to know and independently apply in their own speaking and writing. Our progression document carefully plans for progression of core knowledge, including genres and toolkits such as setting, tension and characterisation. Basic skills and non-negotiables underpin writing in all areas of the curriculum.
Each unit provides real life reasons for children’s writing, which enthuses them with purpose and audience; recent examples include letters to our local council and reports for a newspaper.
The three stages of Talk for Writing are consistently applied;
1) Imitation – getting to know the model text well
All units begin with a hook for writing. The children complete a cold write, which is used to assess prior knowledge and understanding of the genre and to plan the next steps in the teaching and learning sequence. In addition, pupils are given personalised targets based upon their cold write. Through oral retelling of the model text, children internalise:
• memorable blueprints
• building blocks – character, setting, action etc
• syntactical patterns
• vocabulary e.g. conjunctions
• images in the mind
Children learn the model text word by word –sentence by sentence using actions and pictures to help them remember key vocabulary. Initially the retelling is led by the teacher - communal, leading to group story circles and then paired retelling of a story.
The children then read as reader. They read for meaning, finding out, for example, about any vocabulary that they do not understand. They discuss the ingredients of the genre and think about the effect on the reader and how writers create this. This enables pupils to co-construct with the teacher a writers’ toolkit of the conventions that they can apply in their own writing. Pupils magpie (steal) words and phrases that they can use or innovate in their own writing.
Then the children read as a writer and box up the underlying structure/pattern of the text.
2) Innovation - substitution, addition, alteration, change a viewpoint of the basic text pattern:
Once the children know the model text well, they use the model text and boxing up plan to innovate/make changes to the original. During this phase, it is vital that teachers model the writing process and demonstrate the ambitious high standards expected of all children. Wherever possible explicit teaching of grammar, punctuation and spelling is taught through use of the shared text and modelled writing. Guided Writing and differentiated group work are also used to further consolidate and develop writing skills.
Moreover, we encourage pupils to plan, draft, ‘read back’, edit and revise their writing through the compositional process. Pupils use peer and self-feedback to edit and improve their writing.
When children have completed their first innovation of a text, they then independently apply the skills taught into a hot write. This is then assessed against their cold write targets.
The impact of our Writing Curriculum is that all pupils enjoy writing across a range of genres, can write for a range of purposes and audiences, whilst embedding core knowledge, grammar, spelling and punctuation. They become confident and effective communicators. They have aquired varied vocabulary that they can use across the curriculum and can apply spelling rules and grammatical concepts in their writing. We also aim to ensure that our pupils are proud of their writing and have the opportunity to share it with others in the school and with their families. Looking forward, we intend that by the end of Year 6 the majority of pupils are working at age-related expectations and well prepared for the next stage of their education.