The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
Writing Curriculum Intent
At East Dene Primary School, we are passionate about children achieving their full potential in all areas of English. English develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes and here at East Dene, children are encouraged to express themselves creatively and imaginatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers and writers. We know that being literate prepares them for the future they deserve and allows them to become articulate thinkers. We strongly believe that it is both our responsibility – as well as our privilege – to promote a lifelong love of learning, communicating, reading and writing and to accompany and support our pupils on a journey to realise their potential. Writing is a crucial skill that is embedded across all year groups; consolidation of fine motor skills and phonic strategies are implemented in EYFS and KS1 and building confidence and stamina with a range of extended pieces is developed in KS1 and further developed in KS2.
At East Dene, we aim to offer opportunities for children to:
- Foster an understanding and enjoyment of writing through exposure to our ambitious curriculum and exemplar texts and models
- Have experience of and deep engagement with a broad and balanced range of texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and show progression within these experiences
- Develop their ability to innovate from and respond to a range of authors, writers, genres, written forms and media
- Promote opportunities within writing, as in other areas of our curriculum, that promote diversity and respond to a range of themes that encourage our pupils to think critically
- Develop their use of a broad and rich vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and spelling within a wide range of opportunities to produce writing for different purposes, across the curriculum
- Show development of knowledge through the use of a writing book and a writing folder
- Become confident and competent at planning, discussing, drafting, writing, evaluating and editing in order to leave primary school with the skills to flourish as writers moving through the next phase of their education and into adulthood so that they have every opportunity to succeed
- Engage in rich speaking, listening and reading activities as an integral priority, which enables writing, as James Britton said, to float on a sea of talk.
Writing Curriculum Implementation
In line with the National Curriculum (2014), we ensure that children in each year group are taught the explicit grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for their key stage. All children write daily, in an English session, and across the curriculum. Teachers plan writing based on the three phases of each two or three week sequence (see image below), which include planned opportunities for talk, appropriate drama opportunities and speaking and listening activities to develop creativity and a greater depth of understanding of viewpoint and purpose. Often, writing in English lessons responds to the high-quality text being studied, but occasionally other purposes and reasons for writing are planned for, including visits out of school. The high-quality texts used ensure not only clear progression through the different year groups, but act as high-quality language models to immerse children in rich vocabulary and to exemplify how authors use grammar to have an intended impact on readers. Each year group has a yearly overview of the writing purposes, both narrative and non-fiction. These have been planned to ensure correct coverage of the key genres as well as build on skills from year to year. The outcome of each sequence is an independent piece of writing which will is used to assess pupils’ skills against the Key Performance Indicators for their year, as well as checking that pupils are still applying the grammar and punctuation taught previously.
With pupil’s experiences and interests at the heart of all selected texts, we have a scheme of work which is progressive, offers exposure to a broad and rich range of vocabulary, introduces them to a variety of authors and contexts and tackles many themes. All of this ensures we purposefully create reasons, motivations and audiences for writing.
In the planning stage, teachers consider the scaffolding and varied approaches that will be required for children to become fully immersed in the text and have a deep and embedded understanding. Lessons are planned based on formative assessments and teachers ensure they adapt lessons to meet the needs of their learners. Staff have been supported in the planning process to ensure there is an effective and progressive journey through learning.
Within the initial planning stage, teachers embark on a 3 step journey which is outlined below.
Part 1: After staff have read the text, they will individually map out their initial ideas: themes, motifs, text ideas, key ideas, launch ideas and immersion. This stage is important to ensure that all members of the team are engaged in the planning process and expertise can be drawn on from across the whole team.
Part 2: This is when the whole team will combine all ideas selectively through meaningful discussion: reviewing and adapting for what is right for that particular year group or cohort. This forms the basis for the learning journey.
Part 3: The learning journey maps out the journey through the text, across a number of weeks, whether that be 3+ weeks for a picture book or 7+ weeks for a novel. We plan with the final outcome as our focus and ensure that all learning is supportive of that final outcome.
Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum, which are mapped out to ensure each rule or group of words has sufficient teaching and practice time. Teachers use engaging resources, including practical activities, as well as resources and teaching ideas outlined on No Nonsense Spelling, as and when teachers feel appropriate to supplement lessons and to provide activities that link to the fortnightly spellings. Children are introduced to the new spellings at the start of each sequence and then five lessons are dedicated to teaching and practising the new rule, patterns and associated words, which is supplemented by additional practice time in some handwriting lessons. Spelling work is recorded in the back of English books and spellings are sent home to encourage additional opportunities to practise and apply new words. When marking work, teachers identify words that children have spelt incorrectly from within that child’s known ability and pupils will practise these as part of editing or next step time. The statutory word lists outlined in the National Curriculum are broken down on the curriculum map and displayed progressively in the classroom environments for children to refer to. Children are encouraged to use purple pens to exemplify where they have included these words in their writing.
Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary
Research by Debra Myhill and the University of Exeter shows that teaching grammar meaningfully to the text type of writing being taught has a significant effect on attainment in writing. We want children to be able to make links between the grammar they are taught and the grammatical choices they make in their writing so punctuation and grammar knowledge and skills are taught contextually through English lessons as much as possible. Children are able to make links between the grammatical choices they are making and the intended impact within the piece of writing. Key pedagogical principles that underpin our writing curriculum incorporate the LEAD model:
Links: Make a link between the grammar being introduced and how it works in the writing being taught;
Examples: Explain the grammar through examples, not lengthy explanations;
Authenticity: Use examples from authentic texts to link writers to the broader community of writers;
Discussion: Build in high-quality discussion about grammar and its effects. Language play, experimentation, risk-taking and games are actively encouraged.
To underpin this approach, a curriculum map has been created to match the most appropriate skills with the genres being taught, in line with the National Curriculum. This allows teachers to focus on how to teach, rather than what to teach. It demonstrates our coherently sequenced, spiralised curriculum, with frequent opportunities to revisit, apply and embed taught skills. Teachers use the curriculum maps to teach the required skills through the purpose of writing that they are teaching to make them more connected with the intended writing outcome. Children are exposed to exemplar models containing rich vocabulary as well as the grammar being taught, in line with the text-led contextualised approach taken in school. Teachers make careful considerations about Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary. Teachers write model texts (WAGOLLs) and worked examples that children analyse and refer back to in order to ensure modelling supports the teaching of the outlined grammar and punctuation being taught. Vocabulary development is interwoven within each sequence and across subjects, using scaffolds such as Frayer models and zones of relevance to help children understand and use new and ambitious vocabulary; word class walls and the English working wall in each classroom further support this approach. Retrieval practice opportunities are used regularly in connecting learning slides at the beginning of lessons to allow children many opportunities to recall, link and build on prior knowledge.
Following whole-school training, we use the, ‘Martin Harvey ISHA’ handwriting scheme. Handwriting is taught explicitly in lessons and in context, when the teacher models correct letter formation. In EYFS and Year 1, children are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct position and use a printed letter formation which is a wonderful starting point for them as they move to a cursive style during KS1. All books, across the curriculum – with the exception of sketchbooks – have handwriting lines in them, beginning at size 1 and progressing to size 4 as children refine their skills. Children have the opportunity to write on plain paper, with the use of the corresponding line guides, to ensure that high expectations remain in place for handwriting, in every lesson.
Editing and Redrafting
We know that effective writers need strong editing and proof-reading skills so children are taught the need to edit and proofread their writing fromKS1. This begins with evaluating their writing with the teacher and others and proofreading their work for sense and proposing changes to grammar and vocabulary. Children are also taught to proofread their work for spelling and punctuation errors – any changes to children’s own writing is made in green pen. Children continue this journey throughout KS2 by developing their understanding of the need, as a writer, to continuously reflect on writing making edits as appropriate to their year group and begin to redraft their work for publishing. Children in KS2 have a published work book which showcases their final pieces of writing from across the curriculum.
Teachers use ongoing teacher assessment to determine whether a child is working within age-related expectations, above or below. They will base their judgements on the quality of the independent writing that pupils produce at the end of each unit. Assessments are moderated internally as well as with our cluster of schools externally and at local authority moderation meetings. In addition to this, NFER grammar and spelling tests are used in Year 3, 4 and 5 and previous SAT papers are used in Y2 and Y6 at three assessment points throughout the year to feed into ongoing teacher assessment.
Writing Curriculum Impact
The impact of our Writing curriculum, including spelling, grammar and punctuation and handwriting, will be shown through:
- Summative assessment of grammatical knowledge and spelling, using NFER tests and SAT papers. End of key stage assessments will demonstrate progress and attainment in line with, or exceeding, children’s starting points and national standards.
- Teacher assessment of writing using independently written pieces to provide evidence of national curriculum skills and understanding.
- Termly moderation of writing with individual year groups, cross phase and externally, providing robust judgements.
- Monitoring of progress from year to year and key stage to key stage, ensuring pupils remain ‘on track’ from their starting points. If a pupil is identified as not on track, they have appropriate support and/or intervention to catch up.
- In-year monitoring of books and folders, alongside pupil voice, show clear evidence of the use of vocabulary, spelling, grammatical understanding, punctuation understanding and text-type knowledge.
- Improvement in handwriting and presentation impacts positively on self-esteem, as indicated in pupil voice activities, which in turn supports our school’s ambitious personal development curriculum.
The impact on our children is that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to write successfully for a range of purposes and audiences. With the implementation of the writing sequence being established and taught in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and have the ability to plan, draft, edit and publish their own writing. By the end of key stage 2 children have developed a writer’s craft; they enjoy sustained writing and can manipulate language, grammar and punctuation to create effect. As such frequent opportunities to write are built into the curriculum at East Dene, consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific language, grammar and punctuation is enabled, meaning that children leave school ready to access the written demands of the secondary curriculum and beyond
Cultural capital refers to the knowledge, skills, experiences, and cultural awareness that individuals acquire throughout their lives, which can significantly impact their social and educational opportunities. Evidence suggests that the cultural capital passed on through families helps children do better in school. Research within our locality suggests that for many of our children, this is a gap we must bridge. We value this in English, as the National Curriculum defines it to be, ‘It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’
Our writing curriculum aims to promote cultural understanding and as a result of exposing children to diverse texts from various cultures and backgrounds children foster cultural awareness and empathy. We strive to ensure that our pupils are confident writers, able to make informed decisions about what culture they consume and participate in, having opened them up to a breadth of experience through our rich diet of texts and opportunities to write.
At East Dene, we use the, ‘Martin Harvey SHA’ handwriting scheme. Handwriting is taught explicitly in lessons and in context, when the teacher models correct letter formation. In EYFS and Year 1, children are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct position and use a printed letter formation which is a wonderful starting point for them as they move to a cursive style during KS1. All books, across the curriculum – with the exception of sketchbooks – have handwriting lines in them, beginning at size 1 and progressing to size 4 as children refine their skills. Children have the opportunity to write on plain paper, with the use of the corresponding line guides, to ensure that high expectations remain in place for handwriting, in every lesson.
Please find below information from OFSTED’s research review of English (23rd May 2022), which relates directly to the best practice teaching of handwriting in school and aligns completely with the approach and decisions made about how handwriting is taught at East Dene.
The national curriculum specifies that children should be taught to correctly form letters of the correct size and orientation. This requires effort and attention, as well as suitable motor skills. There is evidence that repeated practice in handwriting is necessary to go beyond accuracy to fluency in letter formation. There is no need to start the formal teaching of handwriting before Reception, but children at the end of the EYFS should be able to ‘hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing – using the tripod grip in almost all cases’. The national curriculum requires children to learn unjoined handwriting before they ‘start using some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes that are needed to join letters’. Delaying teaching joined handwriting gives teachers and children time to focus on other aspects of the writing process, such as composition, spelling and forming letters correctly. Research supports the idea that writing letters may be important for supporting children’s early reading development, because it stimulates the areas of the brain known to underpin successful reading. A small study with 4- to 5-year-olds showed that practice in writing letters ‘stroke by stroke’ may be the ‘gateway’ through which beginning readers learn to recognise the features of each letter, as well as learning which features are not important.
There is also evidence that repeated practice in handwriting, going beyond accuracy to fluency, leads to success in higher-level writing tasks. Skilful handwriting has an impact on composition. According to 2 meta-analyses of research on handwriting instruction, teaching handwriting is closely associated with the quality, length and fluency of writing. As these meta-analyses showed, teaching handwriting can improve writing because the pupil can spend more time planning, thinking about content and constructing the sentences.
Y2 Spelling Long Term Curriculum Map 2023/24
As words with new GPCs are introduced, many previously-taught GPCs can be revised at the same time as these words will usually contain them. Spelling rules in purple are taken from the Y1 curriculum.
Y3/4 Spelling Long Term Curriculum Map 2022/23
Words shown in the blue boxes are example, non-statutory words
Y5/6 Spelling Long Term Curriculum Map 2022/23
Words shown in the blue boxes are example, non-statutory words
There are several key concepts and skills we focus on when teaching writing. These key concepts are introduced and reinforced throughout the English curriculum from Foundation to Year 6, with complexity and expectations increasing as the children progress. Effective instruction in these areas helps students develop strong writing skills that are essential for success.