Writing at Bolton
Subject Lead: Ruth Elstone (KS2) and Debbie Tinkler (KS1) (Both since September 2020)
Monitoring Governor: Lisa Wilson (Since September 2020)
Children are encouraged to express themselves by writing in different contexts and for a variety of purposes and audiences. We will develop children’s creativity, imagination, vocabulary, spelling and handwriting through the teaching of writing. We will do this through modelling good practice, using good examples and setting writing targets to aid self-improvement. Although, children are developing their writing skills throughout the whole curriculum, we have a discreet weekly lesson that focuses on particular writing skills in different genres.
Children use the marking code and are encouraged to use their purple-improving pens. All children will enjoy participating in 'Slow Write' and modelled up-levelling activities. We give each child the opportunity to share their writing with others and discuss and assess their own writing and the work of others.
Termly, the whole school takes part in ‘The Writing Challenge’ which is an opportunity for a ‘cold write’ on a theme or genre so that the teachers can analyse progress and this can inform future planning and areas to focus on. Handwriting is a skill that can only be improved by constant practice. We encourage parents to support by promoting writing for pleasure at home and their participation in our information workshops. We have regular handwriting practice sessions and use the Penpals Scheme.
Please see the website – Messages for Parents from Penpals: https://www.cambridge.org/files/7314/9020/2522/PfH_Messages_for_Parents_combined.pdf
At Bolton Primary School we believe that a high-quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening.
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 and to be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules that they learn in school. We believe that being able to ‘talk’ confidently about what you are writing about is an important part of the writing process. Verbally rehearsing sentences is something that will feature in classrooms, lower down the school.
We want our children to write clearly, accurately, and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a good, joined, handwriting style. We believe that all good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so we want children to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement in pieces of writing, editing their work effectively during and after the writing process.
Like in reading, we do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress. We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both grammar, spelling and composition skills, and so we encourage a strong home-school partnership.
Any students experiencing difficulties with writing will receive support and have a support plan with individualised targets. These are reviewed termly.
All teachers of English, at Bolton Primary, undertake regular CPD and are committed to fostering a love of Literacy and literature amongst all pupils.
We teach English as whole class lessons, so that all children have access to the age-related skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum. Within lessons, teachers and teaching assistants target support to enable pupils to achieve at an age-related level wherever possible. This may involve a greater level of scaffolding and access to additional support materials such as Word Banks, Sentence Openers or a greater level of modelling. More able learners are given opportunities to extend their writing in a variety of ways, including through showing greater control in their writing, a deeper understanding of the impact that their writing has on the reader and by using a higher level of vocabulary and grammatical features.
There is a distinct weekly writing session to build stamina and pleasure in writing. Part of these sessions may include ‘Slow Write’ and up levelling activities.
Each year group has an overview of the writing genres - narrative, poetry and non-fiction, that they will be taught. These have been planned to ensure correct coverage of the key genres as well as build on skills from year to year. Units will vary in length, within each unit there will be an opportunity to complete an ‘Extended Write’ which will be used to assess the pupil’s skills against the agreed success criteria. In Y5/6, the genres are taught in more depth and the units take longer to cover. Every narrative unit is linked to a carefully chosen text that acts as a stimulus for teaching the identified text, word and sentence level features that children will be expected to include in their extended writing outcome for that unit.
Sometimes a WAGOLL (or similar) – What a good one looks like – is created based on the stimulus text and supports pupils to identify and learn from the identified features in their own writing. Non-fiction units where possible are also taught through a theme in the same Fictional text and a quality WAGOLL that may be based on a stimulus text or may be related to another curriculum area.
There are also sometimes opportunities to also teach poetry through themes in the text studied. In Y2 and Y6 some key tasks are ‘independent’ so that they can be submitted for writing assessment/ moderation. Both Y6 and Y2 teaching staff undertake moderation across the cluster.
Class 3 children usually take part in the Rotary Young Writer Competition and receive feedback from the local judges. School Council children are also encouraged to write agendas and minutes. The school encourages the writing of Thank you letters etc to people and friends in the community.
Spellings: Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum. Teachers use The Spelling Book as our Scheme to support their teaching and to provide activities that link to the weekly focus. Children no longer have spelling lists and tests. The teaching of spelling is done in 3 ways grouping, improving and acquiring. The key thinking is that this new approach to spelling is that it opens up the ‘wonder of words’ and encourages retention and building up of new vocabulary in a meaningful way. Pupils (using the marking code) are required to identify some of their own spelling errors by using the dots symbol (underneath the part that looks incorrect). Identifying errors and self-correcting time is regularly given in sessions in an age-appropriate way. When marking work, teachers may also use the dots symbol over the misspelt part of a word to encourage the pupil to check and edit the word at a convenient moment.
Grammar and Punctuation: Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through an embedded approach in the English lessons as much as possible. Teachers plan to teach the required skills through the genres of writing that they are teaching, linking it to the genre to make it more connected with the intended writing outcome. Teachers do also have a discreet GAPs lesson to focus on particular grammar and punctuation skills as standalone lessons, particularly when it is to introduce new content or something that children are finding particularly challenging. Children are encouraged to use the ‘marking code’ to self-correct grammar and punctuation in their writing pieces. Similarly, teachers will give feedback by using aspects of the marking code e.g. using the symbol 'P' to denote missing or incorrect punctuation.
Children are given the chance to orally rehearse ideas for writing regularly.
Staff regularly undertake CPD opportunities in English and ensure that their English delivery is of a high standard.
Parents can access a wide range information through the website about the English Curriculum at Bolton about phonics progression, reading and writing genres and texts that we are studying in detail.
Teachers are competent and confident delivering this subject and keep up to date with current thinking and developments.
Pupils enjoy writing across a range of genres and all pupils of all abilities succeed in English lessons because work is appropriately scaffolded. Pupils are continuously developing a wide vocabulary that they use within their writing. Pupils have a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing based on the context and audience. Pupils leave primary school being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught and they understand the Writing Process – drafting, peer response, editing, re-writing and published draft. Parents and carers have a good understanding of how they can support spelling, grammar and composition at home, and contribute regularly to homework. Writing achievement shows improvement and is becoming more in line with national averages. The % of pupils working at Expected and Greater Depth within each year group is increasing year or year (depending on cohorts) and there are no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non-disadvantaged).
The impact of our English Curriculum on our children is clear: good progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. We are confident that as children move on from Bolton to secondary education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do. At Bolton, our pupils write proficiently with thought and clarity.
Please see our English at Bolton document below for more information, including our policy, progression of skills and long term plans.