WRITING AT LYME
Subject Leader Introduction
Hello, I am Miss Hope and I am the subject lead for writing at Lyme. I believe that secure writing skills are essential to ensure progression and to enable achievement across the curriculum. These skills will prepare our pupils effectively for adult life and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society. Therefore, writing is something that we prioritise in our curriculum. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and can adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We place challenging high-quality texts at the heart of our lessons to inspire writing from an early age and our vocabulary-rich learning environment feeds directly into children's writing outcomes.
At Lyme Community Primary School, we believe that the ability to write with confidence and accuracy is a vital life skill. Writing is a complex process that draws upon more than handwriting and spelling. It is the ability to effectively communicate ideas, information and opinions through the printed word in a wide range of contexts. Successful writers understand the social function and characteristics of writing in order to use different genres appropriately, matching it to audience and purpose. Writing also requires the writer to understand and accurately apply the conventions of syntax, spelling and punctuation. We aim to equip children with the skills necessary to achieve this, throughout the curriculum.
We also seek to take advantage of opportunities to make links across the curriculum. Cross-curricular writing projects allow pupils to write for a purpose and transfer and improve the language structures they have been practising. Writing in other subjects offers a creative way to develop the children's skills while motivating them to learn through stimulating, interrelated topics.
At Lyme, we want children to enjoy writing from an early age. Our ultimate intention is to enable children to independently and effectively communicate in writing for a wide range of audiences. Integral to the process of writing is speaking and listening. In the Foundation Stage we find that many of our children on entry have limited language skills i.e. the ability to speak clearly and often limited word knowledge and general knowledge/experiences. Therefore, the curriculum is taught through a range of quality texts.These are chosen to encourage children's speech, language and communication development and to enhance their knowledge of the world around them. This approach enables children to articulate their thoughts, retell stories, orally create new stories and orally rehearse what they are going to write and re-read what they have written. This underlines and runs alongside the writing process and ultimately provides the structure to enabling the children to begin to formulate sentences from this early age. Additionally, extra language interventions are planned for those with additional needs through NELI, EarlyTalk Boost and SALT recommendations to develop their language skills.
Throughout EYFS children are encouraged to attempt their own emergent writing and their efforts are valued and celebrated. Emergent writing is encouraged through the use of different writing materials, including felt tipped pens, crayons, chalk, sand, magnetic letters, big brushes, water, paint and computers, as well as writing in the role-play areas, such as postcards, menus, invitations, labels etc. As their phonic knowledge increases, so does their ability to write independently. At the same time, their knowledge of key words is supported through reading and writing activities, including shared reading and writing. However it is evident that many children do not have the fine motor (or gross) skills at this age to hold mark making equipment effectively so a great emphasis is placed on developing these skills first and foremost. For those children who are ready, legible letter formation is explicitly taught and modelled on a daily basis. A wide variety of opportunities are provided for children to engage in writing activities and independently apply their phonic skills through role play, creative activities and the outdoor area.
Throughout Key Stages 1 and 2 children have the opportunity to write independently and at length. In these writing sessions, we use a variety of teaching and learning styles. Our principal aim is to develop student's knowledge, skills, and understanding. We adopt ‘The Write Stuff’ approach which uses a wide range of high quality texts designed to challenge, enthuse and engage children. These are planned and chosen carefully to exemplify and inspire the quality of writing expected in each year group. At Lyme we find that many of our children struggle to transform the spoken word into the written word accurately. This system focuses heavily on the development and manipulation of sentence structures (sentence stacking) and uses modelled writing as the main tool to demonstrate these skills explicitly to the children. At Lyme, we use the FANTASTIC system throughout the school to support the children to formulate their ideas. FANTASTIC is an acronym for the nine lenses which help our children to prepare their language/ideas and organise it under nine headings. This framework is adopted in a variety of other subject areas to encourage the children to formulate their ideas.
Within this system, writing is taught in a range of ways:
Modelling Writing: The teacher talks aloud the thought processes as a writer. They model strategies in front of the children, communicating the strategies being used. Teachers may model writing skills such as punctuation, rehearsal, proof reading, editing, word selection, sentence construction and paragraphing.
Shared Writing: This is a collaborative approach in which the pupils contribute their ideas and thoughts for the teacher to write. The teacher models and teaches specific writing skills and there is the opportunity for discussion to choose the most effective or suitable ideas.
Supported Composition: The children work in pairs to provide the next sentence of the text. This may follow from the modelled or the shared writing process.
Guided Writing: Pupils are grouped by writing ability. The teacher or other adult works with the group on a carefully selected task appropriate to that group’s needs and targets. This will focus on a particular aspect of the writing process rather than writing a complete piece.
Independent Writing: Children are given opportunities to apply their understanding of the text type in their own writing. They are encouraged to plan, draft, write, edit and assess their work, applying the skills they have learnt throughout the unit of work on that particular genre.
As children progress throughout the school, they are given many opportunities to write independently and to apply the skills they have learnt and practised in shared and guided writing. Wherever possible, writing is made meaningful by being planned for a specific purpose or in response to a particular experience. We utilise a great variety of materials, visual and written, to inspire their writing.
Daily phonics lessons build children’s phonic and spelling knowledge enabling them to sound out words and spell high frequency words correctly. Children throughout the year groups have spellings to learn relevant to their age, and these focus on high frequency words or a particular spelling pattern.
In our school we aim to instil a positive attitude towards handwriting. Handwriting is discretely taught daily in tEYFS and the beginning of Y1, at least twice a week in Y2 and once a week in KS2.We introduce joined up handwriting at an early stage of a child’s development. From Year 1 students are encouraged to develop a joined, confident handwriting style that is clear, legible and fluent by the end of Year 2. Many of our children require further consistent practise of joining handwriting in LKS2. Therefore, as a school we made the decision to withhold pens until Y4 to ensure that the majority of children have secure letter formation.
Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation is planned and taught as an integral part of each unit of work. The objectives are carefully matched to the unit of work to enable them to be taught and learnt within a meaningful context. It is evident that the lack of language affects our pupils’ vocabulary so at Lyme we place a great of emphasis on developing vocabulary through English and also through cross-curricular topics. We always aim to invite visitors, book workshops and organise visits to boost language and vocabulary and give the children the first -hand experiences to write about.
Writing has obvious links to many subjects in school and teachers aim to make the most of those links to create exciting and purposeful writing opportunities. School trips and visitors are an integral part of our Learning Challenge curriculum and often foster inspiration to write. Children practise and develop their writing skills in other subjects such as science, history or geography and use knowledge from other subjects to inform and inspire writing in English lessons.
Assessment and Curriculum Planning
Teachers assess student's work in writing. The on-going, formative short-term assessments that teachers make as part of every lesson help them to adjust their daily plans. They match these short-term assessments closely to the teaching objectives. Written or verbal feedback is given as next steps to help guide student's progress. All students are encouraged to use self -assessment to think about how they could improve their writing. We use green editing pens to make clear where children have self-edited.
In Early Years, children are assessed against the EYFS age related criteria within the strand of Literacy Development, though aspects of writing can be seen in many areas of the EYFS curriculum.
At KS1 & 2 we use the National Curriculum charted through objective statements to monitor individual pupil progress against the key stage expectations. The system assesses pupil progress against age appropriate descriptors; this enables teachers to monitor which pupils are working towards their age-related expectations and who may be exceeding these goals. This information is then used to inform curriculum planning outlining how additional support or challenge can be provided in order to meet the needs of our pupils. This information is also used by teachers when reporting to parents. In addition, In Y2 and Y6 we use the teacher interim framework for writing to assess writing at the end of the year.