Intent: At Chaddlewood, we want all children to write with effect and accuracy, regardless of their background, needs and abilities. We recognise that the ability to write with clarity is an essential skill that allows children to achieve and progress in a range of subjects, enriches their experience of education and prepares them for life beyond the classroom. We also recognise that writing is underpinned by strong reading habits and skills.
Our intent: Chaddlewood children master core writing skills in each year group that progressively develop their writing abilities
Each year group, whilst delivering the breadth of the national curriculum, focuses on a number of core objectives that we want the children to master. The objectives cover four themes: 1) composition, purpose and audience; 2) grammar; 3) punctuation; and 4) transcription. The objectives are mostly taught with reference to an exemplar text (such as a short story or an extract from a non-fiction text) in units of around three weeks. For each year group, we have mapped the objectives covered in each unit so that, over the course of the year, children explore, revisit and master each objective. We have recently adapted our approach to give additional time in the last half term for teachers to revisit any of the objectives that they want to consolidate still further.
Despite our focus on core objectives, we recognise, and emphasise to the children, that effective writing is not simply a process of combining the features they have been taught in a ‘paint by numbers’ approach. Instead, we reinforce to the children that writers are driven by the effect they wish their writing to have, the purpose for which they are writing and their chosen audience.
Our core objectives are provided in the tables at the foot of this document.
Our intent: Grammar and punctuation are taught, wherever possible, within contextualised English units
When we are planning our units, we ensure that we teach the grammar and punctuation for each year group - including the relevant terminology - as part of those units rather than as discrete lessons. This ensures that the children are able to contextualise their learning effectively, recognising that grammar and punctuation are linked to the construction of effective and accurate writing rather than being stand-alone segments of knowledge.
Our intent: We use assessment effectively to inform our provision
We primarily assess children’s writing against the core objectives for each year group. In the first part of the year, much of our assessment is formative, moving towards more formal summative assessment in the latter part of the year. Our focus on core objectives allows us to identify the extent to which children have mastered the essential knowledge and skills for their year group so that we can precisely identify gaps or areas that need further consolidation. We adjust our medium-term plans so that we can revisit core objectives as necessary in order to support our intention that all Chaddlewood children master essential writing skills in each year group. Our assessments are moderated across our year groups and by our English Co-ordinator and Headteacher.
Our intent: Chaddlewood children have a secure understanding of essential writing skills (the ‘Chaddlewood nuts and bolts’)
We want all of our children to leave primary school with the ability to apply essential writing skills accurately and consistently. We see this as a basic entitlement but also consider that the ability to use these skills with automaticity will give children the cognitive capacity to access higher-order skills (as well as allowing teachers to focus on the core objectives for their year group rather than on the basics). We call these essentials the ‘Chaddlewood nuts and bolts’ - a defined list of objectives that we expect every child to apply in their writing and which range from capital letters and full stops to the accurate use of common homophones such as its/it’s. These have always been areas of focus at Chaddlewood but we have now significantly raised their profile so that children understand and can explain their importance. At Chaddlewood, we explicitly teach the nuts and bolts, make reference to them in our marking and refer to them regularly in our teaching.
Our intent: Chaddlewood children know how to improve their writing
In Key Stage 2, we use a series of numerical marking codes that we put in the margin of children’s written work (including cross-curricular work) and which point out errors - or suggest improvements - to the children. Each child has a copy of the codes and is expected to use these as the basis for correcting or improving their work. This is an effective and efficient system that allows teachers to mark work accurately and quickly whilst giving children the opportunity to rapidly remediate their work.
In Key Stage 2, children also edit and proofread their work as a matter of course. This might reflect teacher feedback or, in the case of independent writing, the child’s own analysis or that of their peers. The level, depth and independence of the editing and proofreading processes develop throughout the Key Stage so that, by Year 6, children are adept in correcting their work and re-writing substantial segments of text for improvement.
Our intent: Reading and writing skills are developed concurrently (reading as writers and writing as readers)
Our English teaching is shaped so that each new unit starts with the reading and analysis of an exemplar text. We spend time working with the children to understand what makes a text ‘work’ - the techniques the author has used and the effect these have on the audience. The children have the opportunity to replicate these techniques in their own writing and are encouraged, once they have completed written work, to review it from a reader’s perspective. This approach - reading as writers and writing as readers - ensures that the two key strands of our English provision are mutually supportive.
The new National Curriculum (2014) stipulated that by the end of Year 6, children must have achieved in every aspect of the writing section of the English programme of study. This means that if a child has not shown to be competent in every strand they cannot be deemed to have achieved Age Related Expectation.
One of the strands for writing is handwriting. In order to help our children to achieve this strand, we subscribe to an online program, called letter-join. We have implemented this program across the school, starting in the Summer term of Foundation.
This introduces joining from the very beginning. We believe that this is easier for the children as they do not have to ‘relearn’ letter formation when they start to join their writing.
When considering the program, we spoke to several local schools who already use it. They report that it has been highly successful with children’s handwriting being universally improved as a result of using it.