Writing is an integral part of our school curriculum. At St Benedict’s, our writing curriculum is based on the National Curriculum programme of study and lessons take place every day across the school. Teachers use the National Curriculum to devise long term plans. Careful consideration is given to the sequence of the curriculum and ways in which the lessons build towards a piece of writing which showcases pupils’ acquired knowledge, skills and understanding. Teachers pay careful attention to the cohorts in school and tailor our curriculum to meet the needs and interests of our pupils, choosing texts thoughtfully to inspire and motivate them to learn This in turn deepens pupil enjoyment and engagement in the subject.
It is our intention that our pupils learn how to understand the relationships between words, word meaning, implied meaning and figurative language within writing lessons. Not only do we teach a discreet grammar lesson weekly, we also interweave our teaching of grammar throughout our English units. As a school, we feel that this is the best approach to ensure that pupils are provided with the opportunity to apply the knowledge of grammatical structures and terms to their own writing. Our planning overview therefore ensures teachers cover a range of genres over the course of the year and weave the teaching of grammar and punctuation into each unit of work. Skills from English lessons are also applied across other curriculum subjects.
Our English curriculum is based around a sequence of high-quality age-appropriate texts. We use each book to create opportunities to develop reading fluency and comprehension with a focus on key reading strategies and skills. Not only that, our sequence of lessons allows children to develop their grammar and punctuation knowledge and understanding to use and apply it across the wider curriculum. Further information about our SPaG and Reading Curriculum can be found in additional documents.
Whilst focusing on Reading and SPaG skills, the children are also provided with plentiful opportunities to:
- explore the writing structure and features of different genres
- identify the purpose and audience
- plan and draft a piece of writing with a clear context and purpose before evaluating the effectiveness of writing by editing and proofreading.
At St. Benedict’s, we believe that writing is strengthened by instilling a love for reading within our pupils. We value the importance of reading to supplement writing, providing both purpose and context. We believe that pupils who are provided with a reason for writing demonstrate flair and effective writing composition, leading to high quality outcomes. Many units throughout our English curriculum are taught by studying high-quality texts and our writing opportunities are derived from this.
Our children are taught to develop an understanding of the texts through reading comprehension – exploring the key themes, events, and plots of the texts being studied. From this element of the curriculum, grammar objectives are cleverly interweaved linking closely to the genre being studied. For example, learning how to use passive voice and reported speech in a Newspaper Report.
Pupils are supported within lessons and staff often model how to write a high-quality piece of work. This enables children to understand how to use the skills that they have been taught in the lessons, building up to an extended piece of independent writing.
During each unit of work, children are taught the knowledge and skills that they will need in order to meet the objectives for that unit. They have frequent opportunities to practise grammar, punctuation and spelling. At the end of the unit, they are given the chance to show their knowledge and skills in an independent piece of writing. This can involve children planning, drafting, editing and proofreading their writing.
We recognise the importance of drafting and editing to ensure writing is fit for purpose and is of the highest quality. Younger or less able children will need more adult support at this stage of the writing process. As children become familiar with the process, they gain the skills to plan, draft, edit and proofread independently.
Teachers encourage children to read their work aloud to ensure that their use of punctuation is accurate. Children are encouraged to play around with the order of the sentences and to develop their use of spellings and further their language acquisition with use of a dictionary and a thesaurus.
Teachers assess children’s writing against objectives linked to the National Curriculum for each year group. Children’s progress against the objectives is recorded in the front of their English books and in teachers’ records.
Teachers give feedback to children on writing composition and grammar, either individually, in groups or as a whole class. This can be done verbally or in writing (using the symbols in our marking policy).
Our classroom displays for English both celebrate the children’s work and act as a point of reference for future writing. This ensures the children get to see themselves as authors, yet also have visual reminders which support their learning. Each classroom has a permanent grammar display which showcases the terminology relevant to that year group. Weekly spelling patterns and statutory spellings are also visible, but interchangeable, depending upon the sequence of learning.
In St Benedict’s we feel that the children’s quality of writing should be the same across all areas of the curriculum and we frequently complete cross-curricular writing in subjects such as History, Geography and Science.
We measure the effectiveness and impact of our English Writing curriculum in a variety of different ways. Throughout each unit of work, teachers informally assess children’s writing and give feedback to help them to make progress. At the end of each unit of work, the class teacher assesses the children’s writing against the National Curriculum year group expectations. This is recorded at the front of children’s English books.
Children also have a writing assessment book. This contains two pieces of independent writing per year from Reception to Year 6. At the end of Year 6, the children have a record of their progress in writing. Pupils in Year 6 take their books home as a keepsake – something which they and their parents love!
The SLT and the English Team monitor children’s progress in writing. This can be done through discussions with teachers and pupils, book scrutinies and lesson observations or drop-ins. Feedback is given to share strengths and any areas for development.
Children’s progress in writing is also monitored by class teachers and discussed with the SLT in regular pupil progress meetings. Assessment of writing is reported to children’s parents three times a year and their progress is discussed at parents’ evenings. A summative report is given to parents in the child’s annual report.
Class teachers meet with the SLT and English team to moderate teacher assessment of writing to ensure consistency of standards throughout the school. Colleagues from the local authority moderate teacher assessment in Reception, Year 2 and Year 6 in line with their programme of moderation.