Writing Grammar & Punctuation
Our intent at St. Benedict’s Catholic Primary School is to follow the National Curriculum requirements for the teaching of Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG). SPaG is taught throughout school, in Years 1-6, in accordance with the National Curriculum.
To achieve these outcomes, we follow the progression grids and curriculum overviews that map out what is expected of each year group in order for SPaG to be taught coherently and to enable a deep foundation helping us build on previous knowledge as the children move through the school. We ensure that SPaG rules are taught throughout all areas of learning and in a way that enables all children to make progress. We believe that the learning of a high level of standard English is vitally important to enable our children to have the best start to their educational journey and achieve the highest possible outcomes in their futures. It is crucial for us to teach our children how to use written and spoken grammar correctly as often they hear incorrect grammar at home and within the local area. Trying to break these grammatical inaccuracies is in the forefront of our minds when teaching.
We encourage our pupils to think and write creatively; be adventurous with their use of language; use a range of punctuation and to write with clear purpose and for pleasure. In order for these aims to be realised, it is also essential that our pupils learn the knowledge and skills to spell accurately and use punctuation precisely and for effect. When children start to understand how, why and where to use higher level punctuation, this unlocks a world of opportunities in which the children can explore their own creativity. We believe that children who can spell accurately, feel confident and are able to write with more enjoyment. We want our pupils to be equipped with the knowledge and range of strategies for learning spelling and to be able to apply their strategies when spelling words in their independent writing.
In order for our children to achieve the SPaG objectives in their year groups, teachers in St Benedict’s meticulously plan lessons across the whole curriculum, particularly in English, to provide our children with ample opportunities to master their newly acquired skills. Our school has a rigorous and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for grammar, punctuation and spelling development.
Children from Nursery to Year 2 develop a sound knowledge of spelling strategies as part of the Read Write Inc. programme. Small groups and regular assessment ensure that children progress through the programme at a rate appropriate to their level of understanding. Children who are identified as requiring further support with their phonetic understanding in KS2, also benefit from phonics intervention. We are aware that children who do not reach the expected level of the phonics screening check in KS1 face an uphill battle to reach the expected standards in KS2. As a result, we have intervention in place to support and monitor the progress of those children.
Spelling lessons are taught discretely in the weekly timetable, and also through Literacy lessons. As a school, we follow Spelling Toolkit, whereby children learn spelling rules that they then can apply to their writing. The children have a weekly spelling test so that staff can record, track and monitor their progress. We also use the online resource Spelling Shed where the children can access differentiated spellings set by their teacher and play games in order to learn the new patterns being taught that week. Across the year groups, classes are also taught the statutory spelling lists for their year. In order for children to be at the expected level in writing at the end of an academic year, they need to be able to spell the majority of these words correctly. As a result, teachers ensure that children in their class are given ample opportunity to practise these spellings and the children are tested on them half termly. As part of our feedback to parents, copies of the statutary word spelling test are shared with them so that they are aware of their child’s progress and where they need further work.
Grammar lessons are taught discreetly once a week and are also embedded in our English units. We find that this approach allows the children to be taught the new skills that they need and then apply them throughout the whole curriculum. The grammar specific vocabulary for each year group, linked to the year group objectives, is displayed clearly in each classroom on the English working walls. SPaG activities in lessons are taught using a variety of methods that enable all pupils to learn in the best way for them. A mix of practical activities, written tasks and partner discussions have all proved successful. Grammar and punctuation in addition to spelling are also reinforced through our marking policy, see below for futher details.
As a school we use Grammar Hammer. This is a weekly programme that allows children to show the depth and breadth of their grammatical knowledge whilst introducing new concepts weekly. This programme allows staff to monitor and track the children’s SPaG scores weekly and share this progress with parents half termly. Where there are common errors throughout the class, staff address these misconceptions as part of their input in subsequent lessons.
In accordance with our school’s marking policy, children receive feedback on strengths and misconceptions in grammar. This can take place within a lesson or in a subsequent lesson. It may take the form of individual, group or whole class feedback.
As a result of our consistent and dedicated approach, children in St Benedict’s should show good progress in their grammar and spelling assessments. This should also have a positive impact on their writing too.
Children’s progress is monitored by their class teacher. Where children are seen to not be making expected progress, the class teacher will put timely intervention in place in order to allow the child to catch up with their peers to the best of their ability. Further monitoring of children’s progress is done during termly Pupil Progress meeting with Senior Management, half termly report cards to parents and by Senior Leaders and Subject Leaders during book scrutinies.
Children in Years 2-6 are assessed against national standards in SPaG to inform teacher assessment. This is then moderated with the English Team and senior leaders to ensure consistency through the school.
We hope that through the careful and consise teaching of English, our children will develop a love of language that will not only benefit their written word, but also their spoken word.