At Longthorpe Primary School, our intent is to provide a rich and purposeful education in English to ensure all pupils have the skills to enable them to speak and write clearly, coherently and confidently, thus communicating their thoughts and feelings effectively.
We aim for all children to have the skills to independently follow a writing process: to plan, create, edit, evaluate and adapt their writing style to meet the needs of their intended purpose and across a wide range of differing genres. In order to do this, we teach to help them develop an awareness of the context, purpose, audience and formality before they write by sharing a range of writing texts.
Across school, grammar, transcription and composition are key areas for development and skills which the children will continually revisit and develop. We believe that all children should have a good level of stamina and will be able to sustain their standards across a longer piece of writing.
It is important that all children are encouraged to take pride in their work and its presentation, part of which is developing fluent, legible and joined handwriting. We believe that a rich vocabulary is key and it is imperative that our children have a wide vocabulary, being confident to explore and choose specific words for effect. It is also our aim for all children to be competent and confident spellers, understanding the rules, patterns and relationships between words. Oracy is a key part of our learning and it is important that the children are confident in speaking aloud to their peers and the adults around them. Children are encouraged to share their ideas, as well as question and suggest changes to improve.
Writing is taught as a whole-class lesson where age-related skills and knowledge are taught based on the National Curriculum. The lessons follow the Writing Unit Essentials (appendix 1) and enable pupils to be supported and challenged to create their very best writing.
Support takes the form of targeted teaching from a teacher or teaching assistant, a variety of literary resources and additional questioning. Amended materials are also used that are scaffolded with additional questions or resources which have been broken down further with more examples.
Challenge is given in the form of changing the formality (the audience and purpose tell you whether the writing should be chatty or formal), view point (whose perspective it is written in/from) or developing the effect (how it makes the reader feel or think) the writing has on the reader.
In all classes, children are given the tools they need to succeed: word mats, templates/proformas, WAGOLLs (What A Good One Looks Like – a model example of the specific piece of writing) and up-to-date working walls (the writing display which shows the genre, purpose, audience, tone/formality, vocabulary, banned words and specific features amongst other useful information for the children).
Where children have additional needs, the curriculum provision is adapted so they can access similar learning in a smaller, more focused group.
Writing Process and Lesson Sequence
All lessons follow the Longthorpe Writing Unit Essentials, which always starts with a purpose and audience, these underpin and guide all of the work in any writing unit, which can last for two weeks. Examples of purposeful writing at Longthopre include: letters to the town council to seek permission to put posters up in Longthorpe to raise awareness of the consequences of water pollution, short stories created for a teacher to share with her baby whilst on maternity leave and a non-chronological report for year three to inform them about the effects the Romans still have on us today. There is heavy emphasis on narrative (story) writing and as a result every other unit is a narrative piece or linked to the skills needed, e.g. a setting description (a shorter piece of writing which focuses on describing a particular location or situation).
Within a unit of writing, children will be exposed to a high quality WAGOLL which highlights the key features of the genre as well as any specifics expected by the teacher for the piece of writing, for example in a letter we would expect to see: an address, a date, who the letter is to, a short introduction which outline the purpose of the letter, the main text, a conclusion which outlines what you would like to happen and then the appropriate sign off.
Grammar and punctuation which link to the genre must be taught within each unit, this could be a single objective or multiple; it can also be taught as a stand-alone lesson or as part of other lessons. Every day, children must complete a short grammar activity as outlined in the writing essentials (appendix 1). Editing and evaluating is an important part of the writing journey and all children are given the opportunity to reread and amend their work, using the scoring matrix to do so (except in Year 6). In the first half term in Autumn, all classes revisit and secure the terminology and key grammatical features taught in the previous year (appendix 2).
We follow the Headstart spelling scheme. In this, children are given new words each week. These words follow the National Curriculum spellings rules. Additionally, two of the words are taken from the Phase spelling lists from the National Curriculum. We do not test each week because research has shown that children retain the spellings for a test in the short term but they are not secure in their long term memory. Instead they are tested each term on a range of different spellings. All children are encouraged to include their spelling words in their writing.
In EYFS, children are beginning to join specific digraphs such as sh and ng and trigraphs such as igh and air. This is to help prevent children from flipping their letters and to help with sizing. This is now being followed through school. For the rest of the school, teachers follow the scheme Penpals. Teachers are not expected to teach every lesson from the scheme, this is to enable them to choose words which link to their Learning 2 Learn or other learning, however they must follow the joining rules and ensure they are covered over the course of the year.
Marking and Feedback (Appendix 3)
At Longthorpe, we believe that verbal feedback, given in the moment, is most valuable and so we are developing the use of conferencing. Teachers and teaching assistants are encouraged to work with children 1:1 or in small groups, to feedback and give more in-depth explanations of key elements to improve writing and deepen understanding.
When children make an error in their writing, a pink dot is placed in the margin to highlight this. A pink dot could mean a mistake with spelling, punctuation, tense, capital letter, a missing word or it doesn’t quite make sense. For children who need more support, multiple dots might be placed on a single line, alternatively some codes might be used to indicated what type of mistake has been made. All children are given a next step in their writing so they know what they need to do next to improve.
Marking in Year 6 changes in December to align with the requirements for SATs marking.
Teachers formally assess children at the end of each term, looking at a range of writing in their writing lessons but also the writing across the curriculum. To help with this, teachers use the writing fundamentals (appendix 4) at the front of children’s book to regularly highlight what the children can do, and then use this to guide their planning moving forwards.
Appendix 1 - Writing Unit Essentials
Appendix 2 - Key Grammatical Features
Appendix 3 - Marking and Feedback
Appendix 4 - Writing Fundamentals (Y1)
Appendix 4 - Writing Fundamentals (Y2)
Appendix 4 - Writing Fundamentals (Y3)
Appendix 4 - Writing Fundamentals (Y4)