Writing at St Louis Catholic Primary School
Intent (the knowledge and skills that pupils will gain at each stage through the curriculum)
At St Louis, we follow the National Curriculum programmes of study for writing, and by doing so aim to foster a positive attitude towards writing as pupils see it as a means to communicate and express themselves. The explicit skills of transcription and composition are taught through daily English lessons. We aim for our curriculum to be as engaging as possible with purposeful opportunities to write across a range of subjects. Pupils will write for different purposes and audiences and learn to adapt their writing accordingly.
Our intent is that younger pupils focus on transcription skills so that they have the fluency in phonics, handwriting and spelling to then concentrate on the composition aspect of writing.
Research from the Early Intervention Foundation states that “It is well known that language difficulties predict problems in literacy and reading comprehension, but less well known that they may be indicative of problems in children’s behaviour and mental health as well. The evidence shows that children with poor vocabulary skills at age 5 are more likely to have reading difficulties as an adult, more likely to have mental health problems, and more likely to be unemployed”. This is why we teach vocabulary explicitly as part of our approach to early writing as well as through our approach to reading.
EYFS: Building Good Habits
In nursery, there is a focus on nursery rhymes. Children will become familiar with a core set of nursery rhymes, joining in and reciting them to build up their vocabulary and identification of rhyming patterns and structure. They will also be introduced to some core texts, both fiction and non-fiction related to the topic.
Key words are identified by staff as those children should have as part of their vocabulary by the time they leave nursery.
In Reception children progress from reciting nursery rhymes and joining in and retelling familiar stories, to creating their own narratives orally. This provides children with the opportunity to structure a simple story orally and apply vocabulary that has been explicitly taught. They are encouraged to speak in sentences, preparing them for the writing to come
We follow the systematic synthetic phonics programme, Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised. Children are taught the rhymes to support letter formation as set out through this programme.
Gross motor skills activities that will support handwriting in the future are a focus in Nursery, progressing to fine motor skill development which continues into Reception. These activities aim to support hand and finger strength and hand-eye coordination. Children will also have access to a range of media to form shapes, letters, numbers and emergent writing.
In order to enable children to reach the ELG of writing a simple phrase/sentence by the end of Reception, children are taught to write dictated sentences to practice their transcription skills, as well as opportunities throughout the provision to apply their emerging composition skills. They are introduced to simple punctuation of full stops and capital letters.
Across nursery and Reception there should be opportunities for children to write as often as possible. Materials should be easy for children to access independently as well as included in the setup of activities. Adults should encourage the use of recording whenever they deem it appropriate through their interactions with the children eg recording the scores in a game, writing labels for their creations, writing a ‘book’ of a story they’ve acted out.
KS1: A Journey of Discovery
As pupils move into KS1, they will have the opportunity to apply the ‘good habits’ they have gained from EYFS, whilst continuing on a ‘journey of discovery’ in terms of vocabulary and core texts. Objectives are taken from the National Curriculum and broken down into milestones for each term.
Year 1 will continue to develop pupils’ fluency in their transcription skills through regular handwriting, spelling and dictation practice. They will ensure that the curriculum for phonics has been taught and that pupils are able to apply what they have learnt in their writing.
Year 2 pupils should have well developed handwriting skills and begin to join letters. They will be expected to apply their phonic knowledge from Reception and Year 1 and be expected to know and use the spelling requirements as set out in Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum.
By the end of KS1 pupils should have been given the opportunity to write for a range of purposes. They should be able to record their ideas in writing to produce coherent pieces that are mostly correctly punctuated. They will be shown how to edit and improve their work, initially by correcting transcription errors, and then in order to improve the composition.
KS2: Broadening Horizons
Pupils moving into KS2 should have mastered the basics of writing following the work that has taken place in EYFS and KS1. Any child still not secure in key spellings, handwriting and basic grammar and punctuation, must receive targeted support to catch up. The broadening of horizons will be seen as pupils are more confident to find their own voice and approach to the writing tasks, and to continue to develop and apply a wide and impressive vocabulary. Milestones are mapped out in the long term planning documents.
Pupils will be expected to take an increasingly independent approach to editing and improving their work, both in terms of transcription and composition.
Implementation (how the curriculum developed or adopted by the school is taught and assessed in order to support pupils to build their knowledge and to apply that knowledge as skills)
Writing is taught in units planned by teachers. The objectives are taken from the long term plans, based on the National Curriculum programmes of study. Assessment documents show the progression of milestones across the year groups. The ‘big picture’ is shared with pupils at the start of a unit so they understand what type of writing is expected of them and who the audience is, as well as the steps needed to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to produce a successful piece of extended writing by the end of the unit. Planning support is available for teachers through Herts for Learning, CLPE and Literacy Shed resources, although no one scheme is followed.
Transcription skills are taught through discrete lessons in KS1. The handwriting style follows the letter formation as set out in the Little Wandle phonics scheme. Spelling is taught through Purple Mash. ‘SPAG in 3’, where three aspects of spelling, grammar and punctuation for the year group are taught as a lesson starter, enables pupils to recall and apply what they have learnt in previous lessons. This begins in KS1 and is continued into KS2.
Assessment takes place throughout the lessons. Marking in the moment allows pupils to respond and improve work in a lesson, and teachers are able to use pupils’ edits which are done in red pen to inform their understanding of a pupil’s ability.
Recall of prior learning through the use of the ‘big picture’ is another opportunity to assess what pupils have remembered.
Toolkits which contain the elements expected in each piece of extended writing are highlighted by teachers and used to assess how well a pupil has achieved at the end of a unit. This information is then used to inform future lessons. The toolkits can also be used to track progress of key objectives over the course of the year.
Summative assessment information is gathered at three points throughout the year, once a term, and used by teachers and SLT to identify any gaps to be closed and to inform future planning.
Impact (the outcomes that pupils achieve as a result of the education they have received)
Lesson visits show the learning that is taking place. Pupils will be able to produce writing of an age appropriate standard demonstrating the knowledge they have gained and how prior learning has supported the final outcome. As the pupils progress through the school, they will become increasingly confident in talking about how they have developed their skills and will be able to apply both old (in previous units and year groups) and new skills (developed in their current unit) to their writing.
The pupils will become increasingly able to talk confidently to an adult about their writing, including the purpose and audience. They will begin to use a well-developed vocabulary and apply the transcription skills they have been taught. Pupils will be more able to focus on the composition of their writing as transcription becomes more fluent and will be able to apply their skills across the curriculum.
The work in the children’s books should reflect their journey throughout a unit, with sufficient application. The books will show the development of the knowledge and skills of the children throughout the unit, the year, and from year group to year group, demonstrating progress, a deepening knowledge and a development of skills over time.
Summative assessments should show an improvement at the end of the academic year compared to the beginning, as the pupils will be able to use their knowledge and skills that they have built up to help them produce writing of a high standard.