Writing at Sowerby
At Sowerby Primary Academy, our intention is to develop pupils with exceptional writing skills and a deep appreciation of the written word. Our curriculum aims to develop engaged, curious and inquisitive writers across the whole school. It also aims to develop pupils’ ability to communicate effectively and creatively; equip them with the necessary skills to write across a range of genres and for different purposes and audiences and develop critical thinking and analytical skills.
Our children will follow a well-sequenced and progressive curriculum that builds upon prior learning, allowing pupils to develop their writing skills incrementally. It will promote high standards of grammar, punctuation and spelling through explicit teaching and regular opportunities for practice. They will experience rich and varied opportunities which engage and challenge, enabling them to apply their knowledge and skills in different contexts. Our pupils will develop their own personal writing voice which will be supported through a positive writing environment that celebrates pupils’ achievements, fostering confidence and self-esteem.
Curriculum Design and Sequencing:
Through careful design and sequencing, the curriculum is well-balanced, including a range of writing genres and styles. Lessons are logically sequenced, allowing pupils to build on existing skills and knowledge while being exposed to new challenges. Teachers provide clear learning intentions and model texts to support pupils’ understanding of specific writing genres.
Children’s English development in Reception gives them the opportunity to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a variety of situations. They also begin to learn how to read and write using our chosen phonics scheme, Essential Letter and Sounds (ELS). By the end of Reception most children will be able to ‘sound out’ words phonetically, and to write simple sentences. Adult modelling is key to children segmenting words accurately and forming letters correctly. They are given opportunities to practice writing in a rich and stimulating environment, where they will write for a range of different purposes and audiences.
Key Stage 1 and 2
Highly effective English planning starts with a clear outcome for the end of the unit of work e.g. a letter to persuade, an information text on a polar bear. It is essential that pupils receive a balance of fiction, non-fiction and poetry across the year. These outcomes link purposefully to the wider curriculum where appropriate to ensure that learning is in a context and that there are opportunities for quality cross-curricular writing. Quality texts are carefully selected/created to exemplify the essential elements of ‘what a good one looks like’ (WAGOLL).
The planning circles approach allows the teacher to clearly see the outcome of the unit of work. Planning begins with the familiarisation with a text type (Phase 1), capturing ideas for their own writing (Phase 2) followed by scaffolded writing experiences (Phase 3). This will then lead to independent writing opportunities. The teaching of each phase may take up to a week and the entire unit may take three weeks. This timing is flexible depending on the expected outcome.
Modelled writing centres on teacher demonstration of the thoughts, actions and processes that create text. It is an opportunity for pupils to observe a proficient writer going through the process of putting ideas into a written form.
In modelled writing, teachers focus on authorial elements of writing (such as sequencing and linking ideas, choosing appropriate words, etc.) or secretarial elements (employing spelling strategies, using correct punctuation, etc.). The pupils do not offer their ideas in modelled writing. Instead, it is anticipated they will use the strategies modelled in their own independent writing. Modelled writing can be employed as a whole class or small group strategy. Shared writing/joint composition is where the pupils begin to take control, with the teacher scribing their ideas. There is a shift from the teacher as a model towards the pupils doing more of the thinking, composing, explaining and working as writers.
The teacher will still remind, prompt and challenge so that the writing remains focused on the objective and key linguistic features of the genre. The teacher constantly balance the focus between pushing children to ‘generate’ ideas and then ‘judge’ what works best – pausing to reread and listen to the flow of composition so that the next sentence can be composed.
Explicit teaching of vocabulary is integrated across the curriculum, with regular opportunities for pupils to explore and use new words. Contextualised activities are used to deepen pupils’ understanding of word meanings and encourage word usage. Teachers model sophisticated and precise language choices to inspire pupils to improve their own vocabulary.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling:
Regular and explicit teaching of grammar rules, punctuation conventions and spelling strategies are incorporated into writing lessons. Opportunities for grammar, punctuation and spelling practice are embedded within the wider writing curriculum. Pupils receive constructive feedback on grammar, punctuation and spelling errors which supports their understanding and improvement.
Writing for Different Audiences and Purposes:
Lessons include opportunities for pupils to write for real and meaningful purposes, such as letters, reports or persuasive texts. Teachers expose pupils to a range of authentic texts, encouraging them to analyse and model effective writing for specific audiences and purposes. Pupils are encouraged to adapt their writing style and language choices to fit different contexts.