English - Writing
At Redhill Primary School, we believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing whilst having a secure knowledge of the year group specific objectives as set out in the National Curriculum. We want 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 school. We want them to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing by developing a cursive handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school. Writers should follow the writing process of: Plan, Draft, Edit, Write/Publish and Proofread. We believe in the importance of being able to write a grammatically accurate sentence before being able to write in a range of genre. Our aim is that Reading and Writing are integrated so that our children use their reading to inform their writing.
Our writing culture:
We teach English as whole class lessons, through carefully selected texts, so children are exposed to a range of authors and genres. Children have access to the age-related skills and knowledge outlined in the National Curriculum. Within lessons, teachers and teaching assistants target support where needed to enable children to achieve at an age-related level wherever possible. This may involve a greater level of scaffolding and access to additional support materials such as word banks, Read Write Inc phonic charts or letter formation cards.
More able writers are given opportunities to extend their writing in a variety of ways, including through showing greater control in their writing, a deeper understanding of the impact that their writing has on the reader and by using a higher level of vocabulary and grammatical features.
Early Years and Foundation Stage
In the Early Years and Foundation Stage, pupils begin their writing journey by improving not only their fine motor skills but their gross motor skills too. Planned activities such as ‘tyre rolling’ builds core strength to support pupils’ posture, preparing them to write when sitting at their table in the correct position. Dough Gym is taught to help improve dexterity supporting children to refine their pencil grip and control. There is a huge focus on the ability to hold a pencil and forming some letters and words correctly and this is taught through small group activities, 1:1 support and the learning environment where pupils write using a range of stimulus for example within sand or glitter, using chalk on walls and paint brushes and water just to name a few.
A range of role play activities are planned for that meet the interests of our children to encourage writing opportunities. Children experiment with different forms of writing: lists are encouraged within the shopping role play area; letter writing is expected within the post office role play area and the use of high-quality texts that build pupils’ vocabulary and enrich their life experiences. Learning and reciting stories and traditional tales play a huge role to build a love of reading and familiarise pupils with story structures. During the whole of the foundation stage, pupils continue to build on the basic writing skills needed to be able to write words, captions and sentences. Children should write everyday through a variety of methods as deemed fit by the class teacher.
Assessment in the Early Years, is an ongoing cycle of observation and planning and assessment. Practitioners work closely with families and other agencies to gather evidence of children’s individual learning journeys. Early Years assessment is often in the moment & reactive to children’s needs by offing support, challenge or additional resources. Practitioner’s profession knowledge of children’s development and progress over time is assessed against the Development Matters. Practitioners level children’s development using a best fit approach.
Practitioners use DCPro (our online assessment tool) to track progress through the ages and stages over time and use assessment data to influence the learning environment and support children’s next steps.
All evidence gathered through ongoing assessment and discussion with families will feed into the following summative assessments:
- Robins- 2 Year Progress Check
- DCPro - Summative Assessment data collection at least 4 times per year.
- Nursery and Reception – Read Write Inc. phonics assessments.
- British Sight Vocabulary Test (for identified children)
- End of Year Reports – Pre-school / Nursery and Reception
- Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP)
All information will be shared with class teachers / new settings as children progress into their next year group.
At the end of the Reception Year, schools are asked to complete an assessment based on children’s achievement during the Early Years Foundation Stage. Teachers will assess whether children are working at, below or above age-related expectations across all 17 areas of the EYFS curriculum. This is used to inform Year 1 teachers of progress and areas of development as they move into Key stage 1.
In Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, we continue to use high-quality texts which include rich imagery and/or language for the teaching of punctuation, grammar and the writing process. Through these texts, teachers ensure that knowledge and skills are taught in a logical and progressive manner. The order that learning is taught is influenced by the cohort and adapts depending on the effective recall of prior knowledge of our pupils. Teachers plan small learning sequences when delivering new content which ensures access to learning. To ensure that our pupils have opportunities to write in different genres, we plan for this across the Key Stages-building progressively. Each week, children take newly taught skills and apply them in new contexts within their Star Write books. Here, our pupils are able to write at length around a different stimulus such as a film clip or real-life experience. Once children have had the opportunity to practise new skills and examine different text types at length, they begin to work through the writing process to create their own example text. Children should write daily and integral to that is the teaching of, ‘Writing’.
Teachers use their planning to identify vocabulary they wish to discuss and use. This vocabulary is shared in class with all children. Our pupils succeed in their English lessons because teachers scaffold their work appropriately so children can work with support and independently.
As children begin to consider purpose and audience with greater intention, we encourage them to read and perform their writing aloud to both themselves and others. This process gives our pupils the chance to hear their writing and make conscious edits.
The learning environments are engaging, creative and interactive so that children actively use resources within their work. The structure of the English learning environment is similar across the school and builds from Year 1 to Year 6 and displays resources that are year group appropriate. However, to make sure that our children are able to recall this knowledge no matter the room they are in, the position of resources remains similar in each room and each room provides access to resources that would have been provided previously.
Formative assessment for writing takes place on a daily basis through carefully adapted questioning and live marking and feedback during writing lessons. We also complete ‘Pupil Learning Conferences’ which is a learning conversation that takes place 1:1 with a child. Children have the opportunity to discuss their learning, receive feedback and set targets on their individual needs. Formative assessment is recorded against the National Curriculum objectives using DCPro (our whole school online assessment tool). Pupils also use peer and self-assessment to identify specific areas of strength and development and quizzing is used as a self-reflection tool.
Summative assessment is used in the following away:
- Half termly Read Write Inc Phonics Assessment take place in year 1 & 2 and with identified children in Key Stage 2. This is then used to review progress and outcomes are reflected in groupings and interventions
- Star Writing assessments happen three times a year where pupils use the writing process format to complete a piece of writing independently. This is then assessed against our schools writing assessment grids which are based on the objectives set out within the National Curriculum and recorded onto DCPro. Pupils are assessed as either: pre key stage, working towards the expected standard, working at age related or working at greater depth. These outcomes are then used to inform next steps, interventions and planning.
- Spelling Assessment takes place three times per year. Pupils are tested on their ability to spell the statutory words set out within their year group expectations in the Nation Curriculum (or where appropriate for pupils with SEND, their targeted spellings.)
Spelling at Redhill
Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum. Teachers use the Rising Stars Spelling Scheme to support their teaching and to provide activities. Rising Stars was chosen as it had a clear and progressive model for the teaching of Spelling throughout Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
The activities are fun and engaging whilst providing children with the skill to review their spelling within their own writing. Spelling is taught within English lessons as well as separate units and class teachers have the autonomy to deliver this as appropriate for their cohort. Spelling lessons are completed alongside English lessons to encourage the integration of taught spellings into their writing.
Teachers also model spelling through their writing; modelling how to correct mistakes, utilise learning resources such as dictionaries and word banks and locate new vocabulary. Fast Spelling is another resource used by staff to teach children words that are commonly misspelt by the class or for the teaching of common exception words and words from the statutory spelling list.
Grammar and Punctuation
English lessons at Redhill integrate the teaching of grammar and punctuation within the writing process, so that children have a secure knowledge of skill and a variety of opportunities and contexts to apply it. Teachers plan to teach the required skills through the genres of writing that they are teaching, linking it to the genre to make it more connected with the intended writing outcome.
We use a range of resources and stimulus to support the teaching of age-appropriate punctuation and grammar to engage our pupils. To improve the confidence our pupils have in recalling this knowledge, teachers plan sessions to revise. The style of these sessions is decided by the teachers based on the needs of the children and the content they are revising.
The Writing Process
The Writing Process at Redhill is how we teach our pupils that writing is something that can be crafted. Each element of the writing process is introduced, practised and built upon across the Key Stages. This writing process is used for all text types and genres and encourages children to pause and reflect.
Fast handwriting sessions are used to model age-related expectations for handwriting. Staff explicitly model letter formation and joins depending on their year group. The frequency for teaching handwriting is cohort dependent and varies across the school based on need. This could be in the form of both whole class teaching and individual sessions.
Handwriting in Key Stage 1
Fast handwriting in Year 1 develops our pupils’ letter formation as they start to form lower-case letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place, including capital letters. Letter and number formation should be directly taught. Left-handed pupils receive specific teaching to meet their needs.
As the children progress to Year 2, teaching focusses on the use of diagonal and horizontal strokes to join letters. Children begin to join letter patterns and practise the joins before writing them in context (e.g. a simple sentence). Letters which are best left un-joined are introduced and modelled appropriately b, g, j, p, y, x and z, ensuring children join and break words in the right places. As part of fast handwriting, children practise: days of the week, months of the year and common exception words.
Handwriting in Key Stage 2
As the children gain fluency and build speed, they check that their letters are consistently sized, joins are used correctly, ascenders and descenders are parallel and there are regular spaces within and between words. Children are taught about break letters g,j,y and the letters x and z which are never joined to or from.
Fast handwriting in KS2 builds muscle memory and addresses handwriting misconceptions. Children write fluently, legibly and with increasing speed before developing their own style.
As a good school, we aim for our pupils to enjoy writing across a range of genres and through different text types by applying a range of literary and grammatical features confidently. Our assessment results will meet national standards and be comparable to other good schools. Children will have a wide vocabulary that they use within their writing and a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing based on the purpose and audience. Redhill children confidently recall and use grammatical features within and across subjects. Children will leave Redhill being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught.