What is the aim of our curriculum?
Being a confident writer and understanding how to write both informally and formally, for different purposes and audiences, has a direct impact on our pupil’s skills, not only for the next stage of their education but also their future life opportunities. Writing helps us to do so much: explain; instruct; persuade; inform; communicate; stimulate our imagination and creativity; acquire new skills and experiences; achieve our aspirations and succeed in life.
We want our writing curriculum to:
• Enable our children to build on and acquire new substantive knowledge (such as the grammar and punctuation aspects of writing) and be successful at the transcription aspects of writing (i.e. handwriting and spelling).
• Enable our children to develop the disciplinary knowledge of writing. To learn how to be a writer and successfully compose and structure ideas - to edit, redraft, and craft writing for a range of purposes and audiences.
• Follow the National Curriculum expectations for each year group - including aspects of formality and the control of standard English.
• Deliver a curriculum accessible to all to enable children to know more and remember more, building upon their starting points.
• Recognise that literature and writing provides opportunities for children to express themselves as individuals and plays a key role in supporting the children’s development – culturally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
• Make links across the curriculum - to write for different purposes, and to use writing to record and share ideas proficiently in all curriculum subjects.
What will children learn?
Our writing curriculum is progressive and ensures that children have the opportunities to write for a range of purposes.
At Wodensfield, our curriculum aims to ensure that develop the knowledge (substantive and demonstrative) they need to be successful writers. In writing, substantive knowledge is the ability to effectively plan, draft, and construct writing for different purposes. We want our pupils 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. We want them to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
The curriculum also enables children to develop their demonstrative knowledge and to ‘think like a writer’. All good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so we want children to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement, and that of others, in all pieces of writing. We want our children to continue to develop a conscious awareness and control of their writing, to ensure that is effective and appropriate for the writing purpose and the audience, through editing their work effectively during and after the writing process.
We expect our children to develop the substantive knowledge in writing (transcription and composition) progressively as they move through school. Phonics is taught systematically through from Reception, and this supports the development of phonological skills within spelling, as well as recognising and spelling key words. There are clear expectations set out in the curriculum for each year group, and targets set across school. By Year 6, we also expect our children to be able to evaluate and edit text and apply substantive knowledge to effectively write for a range of purposes (demonstrative knowledge). This is built into our writing curriculum and targets for the children.
Our aspiration is that by the end of their time at Wodensfield, in Year 6, our pupils can write with confidence; can write for a range of writing purposes; can use their knowledge and skills in any subject and when transitioning into secondary school. It is also essential for us that our children have developed the knowledge of a range of writing styles (e.g. to write for entertainment as well as for information), and through this use a wide vocabulary, which they can apply to all subjects. In this, reading and writing are intrinsically linked.
How is writing taught at Wodensfield?
Writing is based around a range of exciting and engaging stimuli, which includes books, film clips, music videos, cross-curricular links, visitors and real-life experiences to engage our learners.
Across school, our children are provided with opportunities to write for a range of purposes including the following:
• writing to entertain,
• writing to inform,
• writing to persuade,
• writing to discuss.
A balance of writing purposes over the year is expected. Teachers promote writing with reading and look for ways to inspire and motivate pupils, so that they see themselves as ‘writers’. Teachers establish the purpose and audience for writing and make teaching objectives explicit to pupils so they know why they are studying a particular text type, the kind of writing activities they need to undertake and what the expected outcome will be.
At Wodensfield, writing is taught through a writing journey, which typically lasts between 2-3 weeks, and includes the following elements:
a ‘hook’ lesson to engage children and launch the new writing unit
2. deconstructing good models
3. speaking and listening is inherent in our teaching sequence
4. explicitly taught elements of grammar, punctuation, language and text structure
5. shared writing as a class
6. shared writing with peers
8. writing (can be broken down into sections)
9. proof reading and editing
Our writing journey begins with a ‘hook’ to engage our children and interest them in writing from the onset. Where appropriate, children have the opportunity to see examples of best practice for each text type (e.g. model texts), which enable them to identify the National Curriculum elements and deepen their understanding of vocabulary, genre-specific structures and writing features. The writing journey also includes lessons, where pupils explicitly cover the writing objectives for their year group including the grammar and punctuation requirements (see the spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) page for more information on our school’s SPaG progression). Children are provided with explicit opportunities to revisit prior learning, which enables them to know more and remember more. Each writing unit enables children to write collaboratively with others, which encourages pupil talk and learning from others. At the end of each unit, the children complete a final independent Big Write, where they can showcase their writing ability and evidence the knowledge and vocabulary they have learned.
Pupils are taught how to edit and improve their work following feedback from teachers and their peers. Pupils are encouraged to use the knowledge they have learned in English across all areas of the curriculum.
At Wodensfield, we look to celebrate and showcase children’s writing through displaying children’s writing throughout school and celebrating ‘Wodensfield’s Wonderful Writers’ in our half-termly celebration assembly, where children who have worked hard or produced super writing get to read their work out to others. We also actively look for opportunities to enter competitions and join in with writing initiatives.
Some of Key Stage 1’s Wodensfield’s Wonderful Writers who received their certificate and special golden pencil during a special praise assembly.
A selection of our talented Year 6 writers, who won a Local Authority writing competition during Black History Month. They won prize money to spend on books, which celebrated diversity, for all of their year group to read.
Our pupils are taught cursive handwriting guided by the Penpals handwriting scheme (Cambridge University Press). Penpals for Handwriting is a complete handwriting scheme that offers clear progression through five developmental stages: physical preparation for handwriting; securing correct letter formation; beginning to join along, securing the joins and practising speed, fluency and developing a personal style. Penpals is focused on whole-class teaching using digital resources to enable modelling and interactive learning.
At Wodensfield, children are taught to spell through the Read Write Inc. (RWI) Spelling programme. The scheme is used from Year 2 to Year 6 and involves the teaching of the statutory spelling words from the National Curriculum (2014). Although the teaching of phoneme-grapheme correspondence underpins this programme, it also develops children’s knowledge of word families, how suffixes impact upon root words, and provides mnemonics to remember the trickiest spellings. See the SPaG page for further information.
What do our children think of writing at Wodensfield? (student pupil voice 2022)
Children enjoy writing at Wodensfield.
• Our children feel they learn new skills and knowledge in their writing lessons.
• Our children feel that they understand the purpose of what they write.
• Our children enjoy sharing ideas with peers and producing shared compositions with their teachers and counterparts.
• Our children feel they are challenged in their writing lessons and are given opportunities to apply their new knowledge in other areas of the curriculum.
“I don't really think it should be improved. It’s perfect as it is for me, however others might have some other things to say, but I think it’s perfect (Year 6 child)
“Nothing, it’s perfect the way it is :)” (Year 5 child)
“I think it’s already the best.” (Year 3 child)
How do we monitor learning in writing?
Writing in our school is progressive and teachers are expected to plan units which delivers the curriculum expectations for their year group, offers a balance of writing purposes and engages learners.
In writing, assessment is carried out regularly to ensure children are consolidating and learning new knowledge and applying this to writing for a range of purposes and contexts. Children complete ‘Big Writes’ at the end of each writing unit, which are then evaluated to inform future planning and feedback to the children.
All our staff, senior leaders and Governors are involved in measuring the impact of our writing curriculum, alongside our writing subject lead. These include:
• Regular assessed pieces of writing (Big Writes at the end of each two-three week writing unit).
• Marking and feedback (mainly verbal) to inform children of their successes and next steps.
• Moderation of writing within school and with other local schools.
• Talking to children about writing.
• Learning walks and feedback.
• Subject leader book (and planning) scrutiny.
• Governor Board reviews and meetings between individual Governors and the subject lead.
• Actively working alongside Wolverhampton Council’s Citizenship, Language and Learning (CLL) team to offer scrutiny, subject development and support.
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