Writing at Chambersbury
Our School Vision
Our aim is for Chambersbury Primary School to be a place where each individual is cared for deeply, valued and respected – Where everyone in the school community has the opportunity to learn in an environment full of excitement and fun, so they can grow up to be “change-makers” and “assets” in the community, society and world they live in.
At Chambersbury School we enable our children to be confident, creative writers. We aim to give our children meaningful opportunities to develop all aspects of the writing curriculum, using a range of genres, purposes and cross-curricular opportunities. We want our children to understand not only how important the skill of writing is, but to develop a love of writing and a sense of pride in their writing.
At Chambersbury School we develop our children’s skills of transcription and composition in line with the National Curriculum programmes of study. Children learn to spell and how to write neatly and they learn how to communicate effectively in writing, including appropriate ways of articulating ideas according to purpose and genre.
In order for our children to become change makers, they must have functional writing skills. We also teach the creative aspects of writing so that children learn to express their ideas, thoughts and feelings in writing and experience the joy of artistic expression.
English lessons focused on writing follow a writing sequence that enables them to learn from high quality texts and teacher modelling, to experiment and practise styles of writing and produce and refine written pieces. This is supported by progression statements and lesson planning from Herts For Learning. Children write for a range of purposes and in a variety of ways including group and paired writing. Children are taught to review, revise and redraft to develop their editing skills as well as learning to proofread for errors.
Poetry is valued as a written and performance art. Poetry is studied at the start of each term and performed in a whole school forum.
Children receive high quality feedback during the writing process through verbal input from adults, conferencing and written marking.
We aim for all children to have developed a fluid, cursive handwriting style by the time they leave school, including knowing when not to join certain letters and when to adapt their handwriting style (e.g use of printing when writing captions or on maps).
All children, including those with additional needs, are planned for so that all children achieve their potential. High quality teaching in English is our first response to challenges, and a wide range of further support is available to help children with SEND and EAL.
At Chambersbury we work hard to promote high standards of English across the curriculum. We work to do this in a number of ways:
A Language Rich Environment
Within each classroom, high levels of written English are promoted across all displays. Models of writing support children’s learning. Classrooms are language rich, to help teach children new words, as well as apply them in context. There are age appropriate displays scaffolding key learning. These are relevant to the year’s programme of study.
Around the school we showcase and draw attention to reading and writing across the curriculum. This may take the form of class displays of current work and learning, cross-year group work on a particular theme to show progression through the school, or other displays sharing exciting information to engage children in reading and writing.
It is expected that children will apply the skills taught in English across the curriculum. Children will produce pieces of writing that evidence new skills and understanding in Humanities or Science each half term. They also learn new ways of applying skills when writing evaluations in Art or D and T or responses to pieces in Music or fine tuning code in Computing.
Within school we capitalise on exciting events and trips to inspire children’s writing. Where possible, links are also made to other topics being studied currently to help learning stick and give meaning to their work. This reinforces our key concepts of writing for a purpose and being effective communicators. Events such as Book Week reinforce a love and appreciation of good writing and give children a chance to come together as a whole school to create written projects.
Across the school, English is taught daily for an hour, with lessons forming part of a planned unit of work around a given theme, genre or topic. Each year, genres are tracked and updated on the school’s long term plan. Each year units are adapted to take into consideration objectives that may need recovering from last year. HfL ‘Back on Track’ materials provide support in planning some units and together with the HfL editing framework ensure thorough coverage of all national curriculum requirements for each year group.
The writing sequence is outlined below and is designed to develop writing skills at all levels while moving children from teacher input to independence in their writing. Writing units are based on high quality texts (see A Guide to Reading which shows all texts used in school). Children are taught to develop their spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, cohesion and content to communicate effectively and with purpose. They learn the expectations of each genre and these genre expectations develop and expand as children progress through school. As children develop their writer’s voices they are also taught to use the appropriate register, tone and style for their piece and to write to engage their audience.
Children are taught to appreciate, write and perform poetry in stand alone units at the start of each term and also through using poetry to support learning in other units. Each year group learns new poetic forms and structures in line with the programme of study for their year. Poetry Slam assemblies provide opportunities for performance.
Children are taught vocabulary in context so that new language can be applied to writing (see A Guide to Reading for more on vocabulary tiers). Vocabulary development is a key focus in all curriculum areas.
Transcription skills are taught within the main sequence, with key objectives being taught and practised in the context of the text being studied. At times, extra SPAG lessons may also be appropriate to address a particular gap or misconception. This may come as a short sequence of stand-alone lessons between units, or as additional lessons. Grammar Hammer activities may also be used to help recap key skills, as well as assess children’s understanding.
Children learn to review, revise and redraft their work in line with the HfL editing progression statements. Year group expectations are on display in classrooms. Children begin by learning to proofread and make simple changes to spelling and punctuation. As they progress they learn to revise writing by making changes to improve vocabulary, structure and content. By Year 6, children will be able to redraft writing with a degree of independence so that it best meets the needs of the piece, genre and audience.
Each unit follows the structure below, with teachers using ongoing AfL, as well as formal writing assessments, to inform planning to meet the needs of individual classes and children.
The start of the sequence involves reading model texts, drama based activities, watching films and immersing the children in the genre and purpose of writing. Drama does not need to be evidenced in books as long as it is clear in planning.
Children are taught to unpick texts at this stage, with teachers directing children towards and explaining key features of each genre, before children find examples within the models. Children may write these out in the books and they should be displayed throughout the unit to be referred back to. Language should also be discussed here.
Feedback: work at this stage can be quick marked using the marking codes as appropriate. Verbal feedback will be part of the lesson.
I do it
Teachers provide explicit skills teaching, guidance and models. Children should have opportunities to begin practising using the required skills for this unit, in a similar context to the main piece or in pieces of writing based on the text.
LOs at this point may be skill based e.g ‘We are learning to use adjectives’.
Feedback: When practising skills in short context work can be quick marked and any misconceptions addressed verbally.
We do it together
You do it together
Teaching becomes more text focused again with children planning their own version of the text being studied or a piece of writing linked to the text/genre. During this stage of writing teachers will model as appropriate. LOs may now be more structure based to remind children to use all skills practised eg ‘We are learning to write the beginning of a story’. Children write and review with support of adults and peers, include whole class shared writing. They have opportunities to copy, ‘magpie’ and experiment.
Feedback: Once children are writing extended pieces, marking should follow the school policy for in-depth marking using pink and green pens to highlight positives and areas for growth. Any written comments should be responded to by the children as soon as possible, which should be checked by the teacher.
Children should be encouraged to develop their work. This will include checking their work for errors at the end of each writing session and building proof reading skills. At times it may also be appropriate to spend a whole lesson at the end of a sequence to model the revising or redrafting process.
It may be appropriate to conference in small groups where children all have the same need/error (not necessarily ability).
In KS1, proofreading is the initial focus with children learning to correct sentence punctuation and spellings and to read for meaning. Children are taught to read back their own writing, initially with adult support and transcription.
Alternatively, children can swap books and/or work with adults to improve writing. More grammar teaching can be pulled in here as necessary.
Where appropriate in KS2, children may redraft the whole edited piece as one.
Feedback: should acknowledge work and address areas of misconception
You do it alone
A unit ends with a final piece of writing that gives children the opportunity to apply all their new skills, develop their creativity and demonstrate their understanding of the genre.
This piece may be assessed formally in line with school data drops or it may be used by the teacher to assess particular skills or it may be an organic part of the overall writing experience. Where possible, there will be a clear purpose to the piece beyond English learning, e.g writing House Captain’s speeches or a letter to post to Santa.
Assessed pieces should be on paper and put into the children’s assessment folders and any previous drafts + assessment tick sheet (TAF). Writing assessments are recorded in the school data collection points at the end of each
Teachers should raise concerns regarding learning needs with the SENCo, who can suggest possible strategies, adjustments and interventions that can be put in place to support children in achieving their full potential. These will be detailed on personal learning plans or whole class provision maps.
Feedback: Conferencing may be used here as well as peer feedback. Final pieces are close marked and the appropriate Teacher Assessment Framework used on formal assessments. Formal marking supports the school’s three data collection points.
Writing in science/humanities books may be used in assessing learning.
*Writing opportunities should also be built in across the curriculum to give children to apply their new knowledge in a different context. This should be detailed in science/humanities planning as appropriate.
We follow the handwriting scheme ‘Pen Pals’, supplemented with spelling practice and specific words/joins as identified through AfL. Children begin to write using pencil. By the time they are in Year 4 they will write with a handwriting pen where appropriate. Adjustments in handwriting expectations and implements are made for children with additional needs in this area. Writing implements that do not support the development of a fluid, cursive style are not used in English lessons.
Handwriting is taught at least once a week, supplemented with extra morning activities and interventions as appropriate, including the practise of year group specific spellings and weekly spellings. In EYFS/KS1, learning letter formation is also a key part of daily Phonics lessons. Emphasis is placed on high quality presentation of all written work across the curriculum, not just in English books or as part of display work.
Spelling (inc. home learning)
Once a week children will have a 15-20 minute discrete lesson on a new spelling rule/pattern, which becomes the focus for their home learning the following week. In EYFS/Y1/Y2, this takes place within the context of daily phonics lessons. The number of set spellings for each year group is as follows:
Home learning of spelling rules and patterns is expected and Google Classroom is used to communicate spelling practice. Children are encouraged to practise spellings regularly and are taught a range of ways to do so. Children who find spelling more challenging or have SpLD around reading and writing may be taught the Cued Spelling Method, or other multisensory techniques.
Spelling practice also forms a part of some morning activities in school. Spellings are assessed every Friday using dictated sentences, with other words being tested in a list form. Dictated sentences will also use year group specific words from the National Curriculum.
For children who experience additional challenge in English, including EAL difficulties and SEND, support takes place in the lesson. Planning shows that scaffolds and resources, as well as adult support, enable children to access the learning with the whole class. Concrete resources are used to support children in developing handwriting skills, including special pencil grips and writing slopes. Cued spelling and other multisensory techniques support phonic teaching to learn spellings: small group interventions in school help children to continue this learning at home. For other needs, there are a number of evidence-based interventions available to children in school as well as Booster Class tutoring.
For children who have significant challenges in accessing learning, an individual plan may be needed in English. This is developed by the class teacher with the support of the SENCo.
Where children have specific difficulties with transcription, a scribe may be used to support them. This enables children to express themselves and demonstrate their skills of composition. Scribing may be temporary, such as when a child breaks their arm, or long term as for a child with diagnosed dysgraphia.
SNAP assessments help teachers plan for children with SpLDs in English. Additional support for complex needs is provided by the SENCo, and this may include children who do not have a phonological route to reading. For a small number of children, planning and teaching will follow advice from external professionals (e.g SALTs, OTs) and requirements of EHCPs.
Our desired impact for our children is that they become fluent writers and effective communicators, ready for the challenges of secondary school and life beyond. We recognise that being competent in writing enables children to enjoy and engage with their learning across the curriculum, applying their English skills in a wide range of areas. We want to see that all children are writing for enjoyment and self-expression as well as knowing and understanding the value and importance of writing for everyday life.
Formative assessment is a key feature of every lesson and evidenced on yellow A3 plans for main English lessons. Work is responded to according the feedback and marking policy (see the writing sequence above), with misconceptions being addressed, progression prioritised and children with high potential given further challenge.
Formal assessments enable teachers to see progress in all aspects of writing. Children are expected to make progress against their year group expectations or, for children working towards age related expectations or pre-Key Stage, an appropriate set of expectations.
Aside from progress shown in internal data and SATs, we know that we are achieving our aims when we: