At Barwic Parade we want all children to develop their skills in writing to be able to write easily, fluently and confidently for a range of purposes. We recognise that writing is an important tool in regard to communication and can provide children with more opportunities to elaborate and explain their thoughts, ideas and opinions on a subject.
We want children within the Barwic community to develop the habit of writing widely and often, for pleasure and informatively. We understand the importance of teaching and expanding children's vocabulary and want to ensure that we bring words to life for the children and encourage them to independently use them in their work. Writing of all kinds is something to be celebrated and we want children to take pride in their work. This is not just about work in English books, but involves writing across the whole curriculum, at home and in school. We want to ensure that, when children leave Barwic Parade, they feel confident to write, they experience enjoyment when writing and are fully prepared for their transition to high school.
It is essential to us that we develop children's competence in the following areas: transcription (including handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar) and composition (including planning, drafting and writing, editing and evaluating).
At Barwic Parade, we understand that writing is a complicated process which draws upon many different skills such as knowledge of phoneme/grapheme correspondences, oral segmenting skills and the physical development of fine motor skills. We recognise that it is imperative that children are given opportunities to develop their gross motor skills through a wide range of activities in our provision such as digging, hanging on monkey bars, climbing, balancing and carrying objects with some weight to them. Simultaneously, activities which require concentration, coordination and a pincer grip (like threading, jigsaws and tweezers) are encouraged to support the development of bones in the hands, allowing children to better control an implement. We also incorporate daily sessions of Squiggle while you wiggle to support and encourage children to form the directional movements needed to form letter and numbers. All of these activities form the foundation stones of writing in our early years setting.
Mark making is a key part of the early writing process. Children within our setting are given access to mark making tools like rollers, sticks and brushes and later they gradually begin to write with the correct pressure using chalks, pens and pencil on paper. Adults model purposeful writing at every opportunity and phonics teaching is of vital importance. We recognise that children's communication skills and language acquisition are imperative and, as such, all opportunities to develop these are maximised.
Writing across the school
Our writing curriculum is organised in such a way as to ensure that children have opportunities to revisit, practice and repeat learning which is essential to deepening understanding and allowing children to master skills taught. Across the school, different genres are taught regularly each half term including narrative, non-fiction and poetry. Like with reading, we understand that children must feel interested and engaged with the subject matter to get the best results. Because of this, class teachers base all writing on high-quality texts that are relevant, inspiring, educational and are often linked to another area of the curriculum, for example science or history.
Teachers follow a progression of skills document that allows them to clearly see children's prior learning and the knowledge and skills expected of them. Progression of key vocabulary and terminology is also included within the document. In books, children also have access to writing frameworks for their year group and can self-assess against these at any time during a lesson. Cursive handwriting is taught and modeled throughout the school, by staff and on displays. Handwriting sessions are planned following the progression document which outlines our expectations for children in each year group. This learning is applied not only to English books, but all books in school.
Beginning in key stage 1, narrative writing is supported through a Sentence Stacking approach. During these lessons, children focus on writing in 'chunks' to form an effective paragraph. Each 'chunk' of writing has a different focus (e.g. personification, subordinate clause, noun phrase...) and is modeled by the class teacher using banks of vocabulary and ideas generated with the class. Children produce shorter but more focused pieces of writing and are able to be exposed to a higher volume of more sophisticated vocabulary. We use a technique called the FANTASTICS which is an acronym to summarise the main focus of a sentence. They include Feeling, Asking, Noticing, Touching, Action, Smelling, Tastings, Imaginings and Checking.These 'lenses' allow the children to think about what they want to tell the reader with each sentence and what the best features or language choices might be, for example in a 'checking' sentence then onomatopoeia may be included to express sounds. Children who are confident with a particular focus during a lesson are encouraged to deepen their learning, adding their own details and features without moving the plot of the story forward. After working through a plot over the course of several lessons, children are then able to use the vocabulary, features and skills they have learnt to plan and write their own narrative about a topic of interest to them.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
English lessons take place on a daily basis, with one lesson a week dedicated to teaching punctuation and grammar. Year 1 and 2 follow separate programmes of study, ensuring children are ready to write and have the necessary skills (including phonics, spelling and transcription). Year 3/4 and 5/6 follow a mixed age programme that covers all expectations up to the highest year group. During lessons, children are given fluency work to allow them to become confident with the new knowledge but are also given access to reasoning and problem solving opportunities, allowing them to apply their knowledge to a range of questions or situations independently. Opportunities to revisit grammar and punctuation skills have been planned to maximise children’s ability to recall and remember the key information and techniques required of them. It is expected that children are secure in the previous year/phase objectives and build upon these as they progress through school.
Spelling is a key focus across the school and each year group follows its own programme of study. In year 1, spelling is linked closely with phonics teaching and reading. Our year 1 spelling programme begins with recapping phase 3 sounds previously learnt, progressing up to phase 6. Statutory words are split across both year groups in a key stage as we work in mixed-age classes. Year 1 children will be exposed to key stage 1 statutory words throughout the year in line with the phonics progression and will then learn and revisit them in year 2. As children move through school, it is expected that they have a secure knowledge of the previous phase objectives and skills before being able to confidently access the next.
At Barwic Parade, we understand the importance of vocabulary in allowing children to access and understand lessons and day to day conversations. We also know that the quality and variety of language that children are exposed to affects their spoken language skills, their grammar and writing, and their understanding of what they read. Therefore, we ensure that all of our classrooms are vocabulary-rich environments. This is done through staff modelling, discrete vocabulary sessions, displays and discussions about language. In discrete sessions, we focus on 'tier 2' words which are common words generally used across many different subjects in order to extend/secure this essential knowledge and, where necessary, to close the vocabulary gap present. Lessons across the school follow a similar structure and are designed to be familiar to students. They are orally based to ensure that all children are able to confidently access them.
We are also working on developing 'word consciousness' throughout the school, where children can recognise words they don't understand, accept that this lack of knowledge is not a failure, but want to actively find it out its meaning. Vocabulary is a huge area of focus and is not 'stand alone' or linked solely to English. In all other subjects, vocabulary teaching is also incorporated, often involving 'tier 3' words in addition to 'tier 2' examples. Teachers regularly check for understanding and children are encouraged to ask when they come across a word they do not understand. Children have access to dictionaries and thesauruses and teachers revisit new vocabulary in many different contexts to embed this into children's long term memories.
Teachers give constructive feedback on all pieces of independent writing in order to allow children to develop their skills as a writer. Books are moderated each half term across phases to ensure consistency and plan for the next steps to success. In addition, all classes at Barwic Parade take part in the No More Marking moderation alongside schools across the country. This data is used, alongside teacher judgement, to make accurate decisions about children's writing.
Through the quality of work produced, it is clear that the staff and children at Barwic Parade work extremely hard at writing. Evidence of this can be seen not only in English books, but in all books across the curriculum. Children approach their work with a sense of pride, they are determined to present writing to the highest standard and they show an engagement in a wide variety of genres and subject matters. Many children at Barwic Parade have become published authors and poets, submitting their work to various local projects and having their work published in children's collections. Other children have written persuasive letters to our local MP, asking for improvements to our local area and expressing their concerns about the environment. Below are some examples of our writing curriculum in action.
Snapshots of writing:
Home learning 2020:
By Katie, year 6 By Nour, year 6
By Julia, year 6 By Mya, year 5
By Connor, year 6
By Alex, year 6 (To read Alex's story, see the link below)