Writing & Spelling

English Curriculum Leader: Mrs C Ball

Response to COVID 19:

Due to the 2021 national lockdown, we are now teaching our Writing lessons remotely, in the form of specific Phonics lessons and English lessons (Communication, Language and Literacy Lessons in Reception). These are either Screenrec recordings or videos of the teacher to allow greater flexibility for children to access their learning around parental commitments.  This ensures that the provision is tailored to the needs of the cohorts rather than generic year-group learning provided by published Home Learning resources.

In order to maximise the effectiveness of our remote-learning package, teachers are selecting and delivering the objectives which provide the greatest opportunities to be taught successfully online.  The lessons therefore, may not not follow the long term plan but follow, where possible, the school’s phased approach of lessons with a reading focus, followed by targeted grammar and spelling work and then a writing focus which allows the pupils to apply their learning. This reflects the school’s ‘normal’ approach to teaching Writing, providing familiarity and confidence to pupils. The objectives taught are being recorded by the teachers so that full coverage will be delivered by the end of the academic year. Where children are performing significantly below or above their peers, teachers have provided either individual recorded lessons or alternative work to support or extend.

Our lessons structure has received positive praise from both the parents and pupils:

Parent voice: ‘the pre-recorded videos add much- needed flexibility parents’

Year 6 pupil voice: ‘they [pre-recorded videos] are better because we can listen again to the bit we get stuck on.

In week 2 of each block of work, remote lessons are delivered that allow children to consolidate and build on their grammatical and spelling knowledge, with particular emphasis on those required to write in the particular style or text type that they are focusing on. This leads into the following week’s lessons, where children write independently, applying their newly acquired skills. Lessons are also delivered which make direct links to the cross-curricular learning taking place in classes. This not only provides meaningful opportunities for children to write but also strengthens and develops their knowledge in those areas.

Teachers are highly conscious of the need to provide support and motivation in their responses to work from home, in a desire to help maintain the children’s self-esteem and general mental wellbeing. However, analysis of the impact on standards of the first lockdown showed that children’s basic skills and presentation were areas which seemed to have been affected. Therefore, teachers will sensitively pick up on any such issues and they will be reflected in their comments to children. In this way, school strives to maintain an acceptable level of quality of work, which in turn, will ease children’s understanding of expectations upon their return to school.

Here are some examples of our Writing home learning (Please see individual class pages for more examples):

 

Intent:

At Hindsford CE Primary, we strive for our pupils to enjoy the writing process and to be proud of their written skills, possessing a deep appreciation of the written word.

We want every child to leave Hindsford with the skills of an excellent writer, including:

• the ability to write with fluency and style.

• the ability to think about the impact taht they want their writing to have on the reader and the knowledge of how they will achieve this.

• the development of a wide range of vocabulary and knowledge of writing techniques to extend details or description.

• the ability to structure and organise their writing to suit the genre they are writing and include a variety of sentence structures.

• the skill to display excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented, punctuated, spelled correctly and neat.

• the capability to re-read, edit and improve their writing so that every piece of writing they produce is to the best of their ability.

While at Hindsford CE Primary School, children develop their writing skills by exploring a whole range of different genres.

We emphasise the importance of high-qualify writing not only in English lessons but also in subjects across the curriculum.

We expect the highest standards of writing every time a child writes in any subject.

Implementation:

At Hindsford CE Primary School, we recognise that the complex, interlinked range of skills required to be a competent, fluent and engaging writer require time and repeated application in order for them to be secure. For this reason, writing skills are taught both within and outside of English lessons as follows:

Handwriting

From the earliest days in Reception, children are provided with plentiful opportunities to refine their gross then fine motor skills, in preparation for writing. Once pupils begin to write, correct letter formation is modelled, practised and encouraged. Children in Key Stage One continue to have targeted handwriting sessions so that the majority of children have started to join by the end of Year 2. Staff at Hindsford follow a bespoke programme for joined handwriting to ensure a consistent approach across year groups. Discrete handwriting sessions continue in Lower Key Stage 2 until the pupils are joining fluently. Any children still working towards the required level receive extra targeted intervention in this area.

Spelling

Children in Reception and KS1 are encouraged to use their phonic knowledge to make plausible attempts at spelling words. Once particular sounds have been taught, teachers encourage pupils to apply their growing spelling knowledge to their written work. They are also taught that some words cannot be spelt phonetically and these are highlighted and discussed frequently so that the pupils are able to recognise and spell them correctly. As soon as the children are introduced to alternative graphemes for sounds (Phase 4 Letters and Sounds), children are taught to make considered decisions about spelling choices as a precursor to becoming adept, independent spellers. In Year 2 upwards, teachers plan four spelling sessions per week that enable children to master the spelling rules, patterns and conventions required for their year group, taken from the National Curriculum.

They also target the teaching of spelling to the needs of the class, addressing specific areas of spelling weakness as they arise. Teachers put particular focus on spelling strategies, developing children’s ability to make informed spelling choices in their independent work.

Children are encouraged to make use of Working Walls in the classroom to aid them with their spelling rather than relying on adult intervention.

Children also learn the Statutory words for Years 2,  3 and 4, and 5 and 6.

Children are given the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge of the spellings taught in school by focusing on them as part of their weekly homework.

The value and importance of spelling is highlighted by our termly Spelling Bees which encourage children to learn and recite these words off by heart. Successful spelling is celebrated in the weekly spelling tests and in the Spelling Bees.

Once children have been taught a particular grapheme or rule, teachers expect that these will be used accurately in children’s work and any errors are highlighted accordingly in exercise books.

Grammatical Knowledge and Crafting Texts

At Hindsford CE Primary, we believe that children’s grammatical learning is more profound if it is taught within the context of a genre, rather than in isolation.

For this reason, teachers plan and deliver English lessons through a 3-phased approach designed to allow pupils to be fully immersed in a genre. These lessons broadly last 3 weeks but teachers are given the flexibility to spend more time if needed in order to ensure children gain a deep understanding and mastery of the required skills.

Children are initially exposed to high quality examples of the genre through a range of reading activities. During phase two, they identify, practise and apply the grammatical skills needs in order to produce their own example of the particular genre in question.

Finally, phase 3 allows pupils to plan, draft, edit and publish their work, applying the skills acquired across the whole unit. Throughout the phases, Working Walls are used to scaffold and support children’s learning.

The English Curriculum at Hindsford CE Primary is based on the National Curriculum, ensuring an accurate and relevant progression in skills.

Where year groups have the same objectives (Years 3 and 4, and Years 5 and 6), skills are introduced in the lower of the two years but consolidated and refined in the higher years.

Teachers plan their English units using a rich variety of quality texts as a basis, allowing children of all ages to experience and enjoy a wide range of vocabulary and language use:

Every Friday, children participate in an Extended Writing session in which they apply the skills they have learnt during their English lessons or use new ones introduced in that session..

These sessions enable children to compose a range of different texts which link to or enhance their learning in other curriculum areas or gives them an opportunity to further develop their creative writing skills. Extended Writing sessions frequently begin with an immersive experience, film clip or activity which allows for vocabulary extension and develops ideas for writing.

In response to our pupils’ views and preferences, all phase 3 pieces of work in English and first drafts in Extended Writing sessions are written in a Draft Book where children are expected to write legibly, but have the freedom to purely focus on their spelling, grammatical and composition skills rather than overly concerning themselves with presentation.

This reflects the process of drafting in real-life and makes composing longer pieces a more pleasurable experience. In addition to this, teachers strive to create a calm, relaxing writing environment through the use of carefully selected lighting and music.

Once children have edited and checked their work, they publish it using their best presentation.

Impact:

By the time our pupils leave Hindsford CE Primary, we want  all our pupils to be competent, confident writers who are equipped with the skills needed to be fully prepared for their secondary education. If children are keeping up with the curriculum, they are deemed to be making good or better progress. We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:

  • A reflection on standards achieved against the planned outcomes.

  • Regular book scrutiny which focuses on the progression of skills, knowledge and understanding throughout the curriculum.

  • Cross-school moderation which allows for comparison of standards.

  • Pupil discussions about their learning.

  • External moderation of writing level judgements at Year 2 and Year 6.

Writing Gallery:

Pupil Voice:

I know I am good at reading and writing because I just use my Fred fingers to sound it out. (Rec Pupil)

We know we have got better because we can write anything we want! (Reception Pupil)

I love Extended Writing because I can write lots! (Year 1 Pupil)

I like Extended Writing because that’s when I get to be an author! (Year 1 Pupil)

If I get stuck, I can look at the Working Wall to help me. (Year 2 Pupil)

Teachers don’t give us too much help so that we can do it ourselves- this makes us better! Year 2 Pupil)

I know I have improved my writing this year because I can write lots more and use different types of sentences. (Year 3 Pupil)

I love Extended Writing because there is room to be creative and think freely. (Year 4 Pupil)

All our Spelling work has made me a better speller but it has also helped me with my reading because now I recognise those suffixes in books and it helps me work out unknown words. (Year 4 Pupil)

Reading and Writing are important skills because you need them in everyday life. Also, they help you relax and de-stress because you can imagine you are in a different world or even create a new one yourself! (Year 5 Pupil)

I wasn’t happy with my handwriting but now I am really proud of it because I kept trying to improve. (Year 5 Pupil)

Reading and writing are important because we will need these skills as we get older and when we are adults. They also help boost our self-esteem because we have the confidence to show these skills in public. (Year 6 Pupil)

The drafting process really helps me because nothing gets in the way of my ideas. I can get them down on paper and then have the chance to make sure it is correct without worrying it’s the only chance to show what I can do. (Year 6 Pupil)

Staff training:

December 2020 Inset: overview of revised planning and teaching sequence for English designed to include further writing opportunities and cross-curricular links

September 2020 Inset: training on new Handwriting Scheme and Policy

September 2020: Expectations of the Recovery Curriculum

January 2020: Cross-School Writing Moderation