At Richard Lee, we promote a love of reading through rich texts, which develop their emotional and cultural awareness as well as their comprehension skills. We recognise that these essential skills will allow them to access other parts of the curriculum as well as developing their own passions and following their own interests in later life.
English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.
Across both writing and reading, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary. By the time children leave Richard Lee in Year 6, the limited word hoard they arrived with in Reception will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.
At Richard Lee, our English curriculum is developed with reading at the heart. From there, our writing outcomes link to what we are reading, allowing the children to apply the vocabulary that they have read directly into their writing. To ensure that our children become accurate, confident, creative writers, we encourage learning through exciting books whilst teaching grammar and word skills explicitly and progressively. Teachers plan sequences of lessons to build towards an extended piece of writing.
In all year groups, we teach writing through high-quality texts – ranging from picture books to Shakespeare, immersive real-life experiences, such as school trips, or a combination of both.
Over their time at the school, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, poems, plays and stories of all kinds. We use drama, role-play, storytelling and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving on to vocabulary exploration, sentence craft and creative writing.
Throughout the Early Years and Key Stage 1, children are taught the key principles of writing through Talk for Writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately, and to structure their work, whether it be fiction writing or a set of instructions. Our Talk for Writing curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of Key Stage 1, children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This structural and technical knowledge is fostered alongside developing a love for writing as a lifelong means for communication and expressing themselves.
Teachers continue to use the Talk for Writing approach as children move in to Year 3 before moving to a modified version of this throughout Key Stage 2. Teachers follow the Plan – Draft – Edit – Publish approach through 2/3-week genre-based sequences of writing lessons. The National Curriculum objectives for grammar and punctuation are also taught explicitly through these sequences where appropriate for the genre being taught.
Writing in KS1
Children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 follow the Talk for Writing approach. This generally consists of 2 to 3 weeks on one book. During each sequence, children will typically:
In addition, specific skills appropriate to their year group will be taught explicitly. (For example in Year 1, children will also learn about what a letter, word and sentence are, capital letters, question marks, past tense and adjectives.)
Writing in KS2
Children continue to use the formal Talk for Writing approach (that they are familiar with from Reception and KS1) whilst in Year 3. From the Spring term of Year 3, children begin to diverge from Talk for Writing whilst continuing to follow the imitation – innovation – invention approach.
Teachers plan and teach 2 to 3-week lesson sequences which are genre-based. These sequences follow the Four Core Components of Writing which are Plan – Draft – Edit – Publish approach as set out in the National Curriculum. More information and examples of how to approach these Four Core Components of Writing are given below. In addition to this, lessons sequences explicitly teach the National Curriculum grammar and punctuation objectives. These objectives must be taught in a genre-appropriate manner.
Planning is an integral aspect of writing in which children should be allowed appropriate time to do effectively. Children must also be taught how to effectively plan and have this modelled by their class teacher regularly. Examples of planning activities could include:
The amount of ‘planning’ time required will be dependent on genre and age and stage of children. For example, children in Year 6 should not need to spend a great deal of time recapping the features of a newspaper.
This will, in most cases, be children’s first attempt at writing in this teaching sequence. This could be completed as one long opportunity to write – or may be separate ‘chunks’ of writing with each part planned and written independently of each other.
Teachers are also required to teach the National Curriculum objectives for grammar and punctuation during each sequence. This could be in standalone lessons before or after the first draft. Teachers may choose to concentrate on a number of objectives which are taught in advance of the first draft.
Children should understand that this is the drafting component of the writing process so should be aware that they will have opportunity to develop this before publishing a final version of their writing.
Teacher marking of the draft may differ from sequence to sequence. In some cases, teacher may wish to comprehensively mark the draft to allow children to edit from their feedback. On other occasions, teachers may wish to leave the more comprehensive mark to the published piece. This could allow teachers to give verbal feedback or class-specific feedback in advance of the editing lesson. Teachers should remember that feedback given at the point of learning is more effective than summative feedback given after the completion of writing. It is imperative that all marking is meaningful, manageable and motivating as described in the school’s Marking and Feedback policy.
Children must be taught how to edit effectively from Key Stage 1. The level of editing will differ dependent on age and stage however teachers should be aware that children must be taught how to edit effectively. Editing sessions may comprise of children responding to their teacher’s written feedback or may be their own editing done using prompts or with a peer. A typical editing session may include some of the following activities:
In Year 6, all editing is done by themselves or with a peer selected by the teacher to ensure all work remains ‘independent’. It is not expected that other year groups in Key Stage 2 follow this model as there is no requirement for writing to be strictly independent prior to Year 6.
All editing in Key Stage 2 should be done in green pen.
Publishing provides children with an opportunity to create a final version (or ‘best version’) of their own writing. Children must be given an opportunity to rewrite some or all of their edited writing. Writing should be done using the same pen or pencil the child would normally use – not a ‘purple pen’. Teachers may choose to complete published writing on ‘special paper’ in preparation for use on corridor displays; from September 2020, teachers will be expected to present published work in this way at least once a half term.
As explained above, teachers may choose to use this as the final piece of writing to assess.
We use both Read Write Inc in Early Years and Year 1 and then Oxford University Press’s Nelson schemes from Year 2.
Handwriting is taught weekly from Reception to Year 3, beginning with mark making and patterns in Early Years all the way up to legible, joined handwriting in Year 4. When a child is deemed to have legible, joined writing they are awarded a pen licence and a handwriting pen. Children who continue to require handwriting support continue to receive this through targeted interventions in Upper Key Stage 2.
In Reception and Year 1, spelling is taught through the Read Write Inc phonics programme. From Year 2, weekly spellings are taught through the Literacy Shed Spelling Bee scheme. Weekly spellings are sent home to children in these year groups and are tested through weekly dictation exercises.
How to help at home
There are many simple ways to help your child with their writing at home. Talking to develop vocabulary is one of the most important things that you can do.
Take a look at the links on the side of this page for more detailed ideas about how to help at home with specific aspects of English learning.
At the end of KS2, in Year 6, pupils will sit national SATs tests to measure their progress at primary school. One of these SATs tests will be in spelling, punctuation and grammar. You can find examples KS2 SATs papers here.
Helping your child with Handwriting
Practice makes perfect! You could write a shopping list, a postcard to a relative, name labels for your teddies or even a menu or recipe for your dinner. Regularly practising handwriting will help your child to form letters correctly and write more fluently.
Encourage your child to use the correct pencil grip when doing homework or writing at home.
Use these steps:
1) Point the pencil at my tummy.
2) Pick it up with my Holding Fingers.
3) Tip it back to lay across my hand and pop my Pillow Finger underneath.
Please be aware that although all of these links have been checked at the time of publishing, the internet is constantly changing. If you find any problems with the links, then please let the school know.
Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation