At Brookvale Primary School, the teaching of writing is of paramount importance within the context of a broad and balanced curriculum, with teachers planning purposeful opportunities for children to apply their writing skills across different subject disciplines.
Across school, children are exposed to a wide range of genres, authors and styles to develop their awareness and understanding of the conventions of writing and standard English. Through well-planned, cohesive and sequential units, which expertly build on what children already know and can do, the writing curriculum develops children’s handwriting, transcription, composition, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.
In order to prepare our children for the very best future, our ultimate goal is for every child to develop a love for literacy and leave as confident writers who are able to:
- enjoy the activity of writing.
- develop the knowledge and kills they need to become critical thinkers and informed writers.
- use writing across the curriculum, in purposeful and real-life contexts.
- develop a curiosity, that enables them to understand and use technical or ambitious vocabulary.
- use composition, grammar, spelling and handwriting skills to become effective communicators in writing.
We believe that high-quality texts are essential to raise the children’s attainment in writing. We ensure that all children are exposed to celebrated children’s authors and develop a respect and appreciation for books. We use the Literacy Curriculum (Literacy Tree) and The Literacy Company (Pathways to Write) to support our English planning and staff training.
We have worked hard to develop our curriculum and methods for teaching writing so that it is relevant, engaging and challenging to all. During their time at Brookvale, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, poems, plays and stories of all types. We use drama, storytelling and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving onto vocabulary exploration, sentence craft and creative writing.
Writing lessons are always taught within the context of a high- quality children’s text. Teachers use and adapt Literacy Tree and Pathways to Write planning sequences which creatively embed the teaching of grammatical skills. Children are given the opportunities to practise taught writing skills in all English lessons and are given writing opportunities to write across all subjects.
English lessons are taught daily across the school and to the whole class, therefore allowing all children to have access to the age-related skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum. Each class studies two different high-quality texts per half term as well as a poetry unit. Within each unit of work, children are given opportunities to participate in drama, spoken language activities and writing for a variety of purposes.
Grammar and punctuation are taught, where possible within English lessons; allowing the children to learn skills in a meaningful manner. However, in Upper Key Stage 2, new concepts of Grammar and Punctuation are also taught outside of the English lessons.
Pathways to Write/ The Literacy Tree
Each unit of Pathways to Write English planning covers a range of areas in the national curriculum:
- Mastery of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation skills
- Writing a range of genres across the year
- Vocabulary development
- Using a wide range of reading comprehension strategies as a whole class
- Spoken language activities including drama and presentations
- Opportunities for practising previously taught genres
- An extended, independent piece of writing
Pathways to Write follows a Mastery-Learning model. Key skills are taught and repeated; there are multiple opportunities throughout each unit to use and apply the skills until they can be mastered fully. Within each sequence, there are many opportunities for incidental short-burst writing with an extended written outcome built up by the end of each unit.
The planning follows the sequence below:
- Session 1: Gateway.
This is an opportunity to hook the pupils into the context of learning and asses the previously taught mastery skills.
- Sessions 2-11: Pathway
The mastery skills (main skills taught in the unit) are introduced with many opportunities along the way to practise and apply these skills in different writing tasks.
- Sessions 12-15: Writeway
The final section of the sequence begins with sectioning and sequencing texts using a model. Children are given the opportunity to plan, write, check, edit, redraft and publish an extended piece of writing where they can apply the mastery skills of the unit.
Assessment of Writing
Our bespoke Learning Journeys map out the necessary skills needed in writing for each year group and these build progressively and systematically to ensure all children develop the ability to write well, with a clear understanding of purpose, genre and audience.
We expect high levels of presentation across all pieces of work, and as such, we follow the Letter Join handwriting scheme. All teachers model using cursive handwriting, within the environment a cursive alphabet is used to support the teaching of the curriculum.
Children in Early Years are exposed to cursive print through the environment and modelling. They are taught explicit handwriting sessions each week and are given time within the handwriting session, phonics teaching and continuous provision to to practise their letter formation and mark making.
From Year 1, the majority of children will transition into books with guided handwriting lines. They will remain in these books to support with their development of letter formation, as well as size and relativity as they move into Year 2.
In Year 3, children who show confidence in all of the taught handwriting aspect may transition into books without guides. Once children are able to demonstrate that they can write with the correct formation, joins, legibility and speed they will receive their pen licence. Those who require further support will continue to remain in books with guided handwriting lines. Children with a particular need will also receive weekly handwriting interventions.
Handwriting is taught explicitly, with constant practise given at the start of each English lesson for joins and the writing of key words. Handwriting is also practised at the beginning of Science and our non-core lessons where children write topic specific vocabulary.
The cultural capital obtained through becoming an articulate user of a wide and rich range of vocabulary is one of the key drivers underpinning our curriculum. Interwoven through all areas of the curriculum is a determination to support pupils develop confidence and fluency in using a wide range of vocabulary in a wide range of contexts, including vocabulary as ‘multi-contextual’ (tier 2) and subject specific vocabulary such as accurate mathematical and scientific (tier 3). This will expand the vocabulary choices that are available to pupils when they write, and enable them to understand the meanings of words they meet in their reading across all subjects and develop an interest and enjoyment in language.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
At Brookvale we aim to develop our children in to confident spellers so they have the freedom to express themselves through a wide range of vocabulary. We teach a different spelling rule a week – through use of engaging lessons and dictation (see overview below). Grammar and punctuation is embedded within our English units and taught in context for purpose and effect. Retrieval SPaG tasks are used in English lessons to ensure retention and to support teacher assessment.
Speaking and Listening
We believe that speaking and listening underpins learning and thinking and is therefore a fundamental tool for all areas of the curriculum. Speaking and listening is embedded into all of our teaching and learning. Our teachers encourage collaborative working and provide lots of opportunities for class debates, group discussions and drama activities. We ensure that children use Standard English confidently in a range of formal and informal contexts so they can have a deeper, meaningful level of collaborative conversation about a topic.