Subject Lead: Mrs Jo Hartwell [email protected]
What is our vision for English Writing at All Souls?
Piers Paul Read once stated that “Writing is a vocation and, as in any other calling, a writer should develop his talents for the greater glory of God.”
Writing is a crucial part of our curriculum at All Souls Catholic Primary School and as a result, by the end of Year Six we intend for our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas in a clear, articulate and passionate way. We want children to have a strong knowledge of the grammatical principals and rules of the English language as well as a clear understanding the facets of text-type specific skills which develops the ability of independent, expressive writing. Outcomes are planned with a real purpose and audience in mind. The children are immersed through each stage of the writing journey, and they understand how each step of their learning will contribute to the outcome.
At All Souls we ensure that all children make progress in their writing skills by delivering exciting, purposeful lessons which can be accessed by every learner, ensuring full inclusion of SEND provision. With guidance and encouragement, we aim to support writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, enabling pupils to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. We set high expectations so that children take pride in their work and have a fluent, cursive handwriting style. Ultimately, it is vital that we provide varied and rich opportunities for children to express their ideas, beliefs and thoughts through stimulating and wide-ranging writing opportunities to develop the next generation of confident, articulate citizens in God’s world.
English Writing at All Souls is taught for an hour daily through a sequence of lessons which build up to prepare children to write a longer piece of writing in line with The National Curriculum 2014 for English. Staff have the freedom to choose exciting and engaging stimuli which helps children to access different text types and subjects, including: cross curricular writing, hook days, pictures and videos. From the Foundation Stage onwards, language development and communication skills are a key priority. Children are motivated to use and apply new vocabulary and grammar structures by exploring them through real life contexts, learning to become fluent speakers and having numerous opportunities to practise their letter formation, phonics and writing skills.
Children in KS1 and 2 begin their learning journey by exploring the structural and language features of a text type, which then develops into practicing new grammar objectives. Grammar sessions are delivered twice-weekly with a new objective from the year group covered each week. The first session explores the skill in a fun, exciting activity with the second session allowing the children to use it in practice. All Souls follows the inspiring Pathways to Spell programme that provides clear progression in the teaching of spelling from year 1 to year 6. It develops pupils’ confidence with spelling across the curriculum and enables teachers to identify and address common spelling issues. This programme targets Years 2 to 6 in line with the 2014 National Curriculum. It builds on high quality phonics teaching and into the wider knowledge that children need in spelling. It has a clear progression through blocks of teaching units across the year. Children who are in the Year 2 Spelling Group have daily thirty minute lessons and children in Years 3 to 6 have five spelling sessions across each two-week period. For children in Key Stage 2, spelling is part of the English allocated time but it sits outside of the usual English lesson. It is expected that spelling rules are drip-fed throughout the week and that opportunities for the children to practise spellings are given. Lessons follow the RTPA teaching sequence – Revisit, Teach, Practise, Apply. Children in Key Stages 1 and 2 are also provided with a list of words to learn at home each week which they will be tested on in school the following week. These words will come from statutory word lists. Children will also be tested on the rule they have been learning that week in school to check their application skills in addition to learning by rote. Children are introduced to a range of strategies to help them to learn spellings. This enables pupils to choose the strategies that they find the most effective for learning words. Some of these strategies include the ‘Look, Cover, Write, Check’ method and the Quick Write Challenge.
The children then have discrete lessons in which they plan, draft, edit, proof read and publish their work, allowing them to understand clearly the writing process. Pupils have an English book where they record most of their lessons, with a separate SPAG book for new grammar learning as well as a drafting book which helps the children to understand the difference between a first attempt and a final ‘published’ piece of work.
Writing is a crucial skill to be successful in all parts of the curriculum, therefore features which they have learnt in English can be revisited in other subjects to show that good writing is consistent across all areas. Children are able to take part in national writing competitions which lead to children’s work being published in books which improves a love of writing across the school.
The school’s chosen core Handwriting programme is the Collins Primary Focus. This is supplemented by resources from other handwriting schemes as appropriate, in line with the 2014 National Curriculum.
At All Souls, children within the Early Years Foundation Stage are taught to develop their gross motor skills through interactive learning experiences. For example, children will form letter shapes on each other’s backs, in damp sand trays, in the sky and so on. When ready, the children are taught to hold a pencil effectively and use it to form recognisable letters, most of which should be correctly formed.
Handwriting requires frequent and discrete, direct teaching. In Key Stage 1, handwriting is taught for one hour per week. This time is typically divided in to three twenty minute sessions per week. In Key Stage 2, it is taught for forty minutes per week. This time is typically divided in to two twenty minute sessions per week. Handwriting sessions do not form part of the English allocated time.
At All Souls’, we encourage cursive writing right from the start. Although it looks complicated, it is actually much easier because all the lower case letters start with a dot on the line. This will later help the children to join their letters (a Year 2 expectation) with ease and without learning different letter movements. We encourage all writing to be in lower case form to begin with, not capital letters.
Children in Key Stage 2 are taught to write using a joined, cursive script and with increasing fluency and speed. Handwriting should be of the same standard across subjects. At the discretion of a member of the SLT, children are awarded a ‘pen licence’ or a ‘pen licence plus’ (use of a fountain pen). Children are eligible for a ‘pen licence’ if their writing is joined, consistent in sizing, spacing and shape, relatively smooth and on the line. In order to achieve a ‘pen licence plus’, children must already have a ‘pen licence’ and be consistently producing a neat fluid style that is mature and well sized and spaced. Children who have a pen licence or a pen licence plus follow a different programme of work to extend their skills.
Children across the school are encouraged to speak clearly and confidently using Standard English. Children are taught to develop and apply speaking and listening skills to suit a variety of audiences and for different purposes. Opportunities are given for children to tell stories, to listen to stories and to explore, develop and justify ideas and opinions in both formal and informal contexts. Children can also express themselves creatively in role play, poetry recitations and play productions. In Early Years, a programme called Word Aware is used to support children with the introduction of new vocabulary.
Classroom environments are well suited to show children the progression in the writing process, including the use of working walls to add new vocabulary, displaying the current units purpose and audience, key spellings including misconceptions for the year group and unit as well as good models for the text type they are focussing on. Word mats are used during writing lessons to ensure the children have access to a variety of vocabulary as well as dictionaries and thesauruses regularly being used by children to ensure accurate spelling and effective vocabulary choices are being made regularly.
Children in our school achieve highly in the Phonics Screening check and in the KS1 and KS2 writing and assessments. In 2022, 81% of children reached the expected level in Writing at the end of KS2 which was above national results.
The impact on our children is clear: progress and transferable skills. We aim that by the end of KS2, all of our children have made considerable progress from their starting points in EYFS. By the time our children are in upper Key Stage 2, all genres of writing are familiar to them and the focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills, creating opportunities for writers to demonstrate a greater depth standard.
At All Souls, the impact of the writing curriculum is felt inside and outside of the classroom. Children are able to articulate their ideas and feel confident to take part in pupil leadership groups throughout KS1 and KS2.
Click the link below to find more information about the content covered from Years 1-6 as stated in the National Curriculum.
Resources to support cursive handwriting