At Preston Grange Primary School (PGPS), we recognise that English skills underpin all elements of the school curriculum and are an essential life-skill.
The National Curriculum divides writing into two broad areas: transcription and comprehension. Transcription covers the technical aspects of writing, including: handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation. Composition is about sharing their ideas and thinking about the purpose for their writing.
In Early Years, writing is developed alongside the Physical Development aspect of the curriculum. During their time in Nursery and Reception, children engage in meaningful opportunities to mark make and give meaning to their marks in play.
Emergent writing is developed alongside activities, such as: Dough Disco, Squiggle While You Wiggle and Funky Fingers, to promote and strengthen fine motor skills. This enables children to be ready to develop writing stamina as they approach Key Stage 1.
Writing for a Purpose
It is important that children understand that writing is a means of expression and a communication tool. At PGPS we create opportunities for writing to be inspired by meaningful events both in the local area and the wider world. This provides the children with a platform to talk about their own feelings, experiences, and interests and as a result, they begin to think about their audience and adapt their tone accordingly.
Links between children’s reading and their writing have long been acknowledged and we believe that the most effective way to encourage our children to become powerful writers is to choose the richest texts available. The staff at PGPS are very keen readers of children’s literature and plan writing units around well-chosen texts, across a variety of narrative genres, non-fiction, and poetry. These texts are rich in vocabulary and often enable children to comprehend beyond their own reading fluency level.
Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing approach provides us with an excellent structure for our children, as do units, which are chosen from the Literacy Shed. Our units allow time for drama, the exploration of real and fictional experiences through talk or role-play and support children to see events from a different viewpoint and write in an authentic voice.
Units are planned with a clear and structured approach to grammar. https://www.talk4writing.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Progression-Updated-2015.pdf
The beginning of every English lesson is dedicated to SHINE time where children: share, hone, improve, look at their next steps or edit writing. We believe that this valuable time encourages the children to reflect on the previous day’s work and recognise the importance of the processes that are necessary to become confident young writers.
Shared writing takes place during whole class teaching, where ideas are shared and discussed. These sessions are pacey and interactive; ideas are recorded and refined by the class teacher, who models the skills necessary to become a competent writer. Following on from this part of the lesson, children then have the opportunity to practise and extend their own writing independently or in a smaller guided group.
During most lessons, the class teacher (and TA) lead a learning objective-focussed guided group. This part of the lesson enables each child to work towards meeting their own writing targets within a small group. The class teacher is able to recap the previous year’s objectives for children who are working towards the standard level, embed learning objectives for those working at the expected level or encourage competent writers to strive towards meeting the learning objectives at greater depth standard.
Whilst we understand the importance of providing structured writing opportunities to understand how the writing process works, it is also essential that we allow the time and space for them to write freely for their own pleasure.
Our children really look forward to free writing sessions, which take place once or twice, every half term. These sessions are introduced with a whole-school or class focus. Free writing books follow the children from Reception to Year 6 and it is always a pleasure to see how much enjoyment they get from recognising the progress that they have made.
Writing is celebrated in many different ways, through classroom and corridor displays, parent’s review meetings, visits to neighbouring classrooms or the headteacher’s office and during our weekly Praise assembly, where one child is chosen as the Whole School Writer of the Week.
Opportunities are also planned for children to read their writing aloud, which brings it to a wider audience and creates a sense of pride in finished pieces. Wherever possible, technology is used as a powerful tool for learning and children are able to demonstrate their understanding through pieces, which are digitally published.
We are extremely proud of our young writers at PGPS and the progress that they make. If you would like to visit and see any of their work first-hand, please contact the school office.
Full National Curriculum for English at Key Stage 1 and 2