Writing Lead – Mrs A Hick
At St Mary’s all of our children, irrespective of background or ability, will become effective and enthusiastic writers; to be able to write with grammatical accuracy; with appropriate style and flair; with an awareness of the reader; and, to be able to write at length, within whichever genre they choose to express themselves – today, tomorrow and in the many years ahead.
The journey to being an effective writer begins in Nursery at St Mary’s. We fully understand that before our children can be expected to pick up a pencil and engage in refined fine motor tasks, they must first become confident and proficient in whole body, gross motor movements; running, jumping, climbing, crawling – the fundamental movement skills. The journey to the page begins in our carefully designed, physically enabling Early Years environments, where our children are encouraged to learn through movement; the physical language of learning.
Throughout Nursery and Reception children learn through carefully considered play opportunities that foster purposeful and progressive social interaction and ultimately, language; the next step in writing development. Before children can write, they must talk. At St Mary’s we foster a language rich provision, where all adults’ model ‘talk’, recognising that immersing our children in language is a key step on the road to developing our young writers.
As our children develop their ability to make marks on the page and to ascribe meaning to those marks, phonics teaching then leads the way for the next part of the writing journey. Teachers in Early Years and KS1, model daily how to write (and read) different letters and sounds, building up to increasingly complex words, captions, sentences and beyond.
Our English curriculum has reading at the heart of it, and writing is taught through carefully selected texts that motivate and inspire our children to pick up a pencil and get involved. Writing takes place on a daily basis, with children engaging in small writing activities at the beginning of a new unit of work, rehearsing new content and being guided to assess their own competency. As the unit progresses children are challenged to write at length demonstrating the key skills modelled and discussed during lessons. Their work is assessed each day and children are given personalised next steps tasks to address, enabling them to make constant progress.
From year 1 through to year 6, a piece of independent writing is assessed at the end of each unit of work (typically 2-3 weeks) and at the end of each half term. Teachers use carefully selected criteria to determine each child’s current levels of ability and award each piece of writing a score. This then enables us to track each child’s individual progress, and offer further challenge or support where necessary. Writing judgements are regularly moderated at St Mary’s to ensure the very highest standards of accuracy.
Handwriting is taught using the programme, Letter-Join. Pupils learn pre-cursive handwriting in Year 1 moving to cursive handwriting in Year 2. In Key Stage 2, pupils continue to develop their speed, fluency and presentation of handwriting. Our children are taught to write letters, instructions, reports, recounts, lists, diaries, notes; they are taught to use pencils, pens, keyboards, touchscreens – all in a bid to motivate them, and inspire them to write.
At St Mary’s writing draws on taught content from History, Geography and Science and from the depth study of core texts from the literature spine. Expert subject knowledge is carefully woven into each module, which gives teachers the opportunity to teach and rehearse key knowledge and skills before applying this learning to meaningful extended outcomes. The careful architecture of this curriculum ensures that pupils build on prior learning and maximise purposeful curriculum connections to become writers for life.