Writing at Overleigh
Through delivery of our English curriculum, we want children to become confident and capable writers, who develop a love of language and communicate coherently through their written and spoken language.
We believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and
emotions through their writing. We want pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar, punctuation and spelling throughout their time in primary school. We want them to be equipped with the skills to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
At Overleigh, we are guided by the National Curriculum for English - Writing (2014). The National Curriculum for English- Writing consists of 2 dimensions:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)
Based on this, we aim to ensure that all pupils:
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- plan, revise and evaluate their writing
- spell quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words
- develop fluent and legible handwriting.
We intend for our children to be inspired and motivated to write, through a range of stimuli: books, experiences and practical opportunities in order for writing to be embedded throughout the entire curriculum. We understand the natural relationship between reading and writing, and we strive to provide children at Overleigh with rich, high quality texts to support their development as writers.
Phonics and spelling
The teaching of phonics is key to the development of good reading skills, and consequently writing skills. Children learn the sounds within words to help decode them. In EYFS, they learn to recognise each letter and match it to its sound. They then move onto groups of two letters (digraphs) or three letters (trigraphs) that say a new sound when put together. They learn how to pronounce these sounds (phonemes) correctly so that they can segment and blend words correctly. Children are also taught to recognise common high frequency words and 'tricky' words as well as being able to spell these. We follow Letters and Sounds to teach phonics throughout EYFS and KS1 and we enhance our teaching with Phonics Play to make learning active, fun and interactive.
EYFS and KS1 children have daily phonics lessons of 20-30 minutes. This learning is then consolidated during English lessons and reading sessions to ensure that children use phonics as the route to decoding unfamiliar words. We ensure that any child who has not passed the phonics check by the end of KS1 has further phonics teaching into KS2. In key stage 2 (years 3-6) teachers use the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling programme, introducing new spelling patterns, providing different opportunities to apply the spelling pattern, before being tested weekly.
Handwriting is taught discretely each day, through direct teaching using the PenPals scheme. Children are firstly taught how to form letters correctly, writing with a joined style as soon as they can form letters securely with the correct orientation. As children progress through KS2, the aim is to increase the fluency with which they can write, which in turn, will support their composition and spelling.
At Overleigh, writing is taught through whole class lessons, using a mastery approach. Children should have opportunities to write for a range of real purpose and audiences as part of their work across the curriculum. Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through English writing lessons as much as possible. The required skills are taught through genres of writing, linking it to the genre to make it more connected with the intended writing outcome.
Mastery targets are selected from a genre progression grid, which then forms the focus of lessons for each unit. Each unit begins with conceptual understanding: children are engaged with the context for learning, provided by a stimulus, a hook, a concrete experience, drama or role-play. This is followed by procedural fluency - repeated learning experiences to practice, apply and extend the new skills, which are the mastery targets. This includes frequent short burst writing, in order for children to build stamina to write, alongside opportunities to apply mastery targets. Towards the end of the writing unit, children are given the opportunity to apply all of the skills within an extended context.
Two different genres are covered each half-term, allowing the children to be exposed to a variety of texts, including fiction and non-fiction, whilst also writing two extended independent pieces, demonstrating their writing ability. Teachers plan activities which closely match pupils’ abilities, providing additional, individual targets to help close any gaps, whilst providing support through scaffolding and visual prompts. Opportunities are planned in for children to demonstrate their ability, to extend and apply their writing skills.
Teaching continues to provide further opportunities to apply skills to new contexts. Children are given frequent opportunities to apply their writing skills for a range of purposes in wider curriculum subjects. In KS2, children have a weekly writing session whereby they apply their writing skills to a wider curriculum subject, such as Geography or History.
Our English Curriculum is high quality, mastery led and is planned to ensure progression. Our teachers measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Ensuring children are provided with a wide range of stimulating books, experiences and practical opportunities.
- EYFS and Key Stage 1 have daily phonics sessions and access phonetically decodable books, matching the sounds they have been taught.
- Writing sessions and whole class shared reading sessions are led by high quality texts.
- Use the genre progression map to plan mastery targets for each unit in conjunction with year group expectation assessment overview grid to monitor coverage and next steps using this.
- Moderate independent writing pieces regularly in year groups and termly in phases (or when appropriate) to consolidate teacher assessment.
The leadership team and English Subject Leaders check that this impact is being secured through monitoring the subject on a regular and frequent basis. The method of monitoring supports the ongoing development of the curriculum. This includes:
- Staff subject knowledge, which is continuously developed throughout the year through training courses, moderation opportunities and lesson observations.
- Regular staff meetings to discuss and evaluate the latest guidance and best practice within the subject. From this, new strategies and methods of teaching are shared and implemented.
- Analysis of year group data to ensure progress and attainment and identify any need for early intervention.
- The monitoring of books and lessons against the non-negotiables, so that inconsistencies can be addressed.
- Tracking of content against the long-term plan of the school, to ensure the full breadth of the curriculum is met.
The impact of this is to ensure that children at Overleigh are fluent, confident and readers, which will enable them to be ready for the curriculum at Key Stage 3 and for life as an adult in the wider world.