Writing at Herne CE Junior School
At Herne CE Junior School, we believe that English is at the heart of all children’s learning. The writing curriculum promotes curiosity, independence and a desire and thirst for writing.
We want to equip our pupils with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Our distinctive Christian school values can be seen throughout the subject where we use texts to reinforce compassion, community, forgiveness, generosity and hope. These values promote positive attitudes to learning and ensure our pupils become respectful, resilient and responsible citizens. Through the English curriculum, we will help children to develop the skills and knowledge to communicate effectively through the spoken and written language and equip them for interaction with others in the wider world.
We actively promote reading as a vehicle to feed writing, as this increases pupils’ motivation and imagination. We provide pupils with rich language models and structures across a range of genres, including those with diverse or challenging themes, from which children can learn how writing works and the effect it can have on the reader. We seek to ensure that our pupils are able to confidently approach writing tasks inspired by their own experiences and the knowledge gained from texts studied and enjoyed – both fiction and non-fiction.
It is essential that we develop pupils’ writing within two-dimensional competences – transcriptional (spelling and handwriting) and compositional knowledge (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). In addition, pupils are taught how to plan, edit and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been firmly embedded into the units of work across all year groups in school.
As a school, we have identified that the ability to write down ideas fluently depends upon effective transcription; that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between phonology (sounds and letters); understanding morphology (word structure); understanding orthography (spelling structure) of words and making etymological (word origin) links.
We teach pupils that effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. We strongly believe that writing for an audience and a clear purpose is essential. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience and the effective use of vocabulary and grammar.
Teaching and Learning
Writing and reading in this school operates in symbiosis. This essential link determines the context used for writing and the genre of writing to be engaged with. Quality texts are used as a model and act as a vehicle for writing for a variety of purposes and audiences. They allow pupils to use their reading experiences to filter into their writing and provides the stimulus and motivation to support pupils’ writing enjoyment.
To support the teaching and learning of writing we ensure the following:
Curriculum Planning and Progression
We teach the skills of writing using the requirements set out for each year group in the National Curriculum 2014. Our approach to writing aims to instil the importance of both transcription and composition, as required in the National Curriculum.
All children have a daily English lesson. Our learning journeys begin with a high-quality text and comprise of lessons initially focused on reading objectives followed by writing objectives. Each year group will study six main texts and undertake three poetry units in a year. Teachers plan clear sequences of writing lessons that explicitly teach the skills required over time with ample opportunities for the children to explore, practise and develop such skills. Children also have the opportunity to build on the skills they already have.
GPS starters are included as part of the English hour and are taught explicitly. Writing is modelled clearly by teaching staff and linked with the GPS starter, where appropriate. Analysis, drama (spoken language), planning, drafting, editing and publishing tasks form the structure of our learning journey. During assessment weeks, children have the opportunity to write creatively at length and apply what they have learned in creative writing mornings. This work is completed in English books and is designed to create opportunities for the development of author’s voice; encourage creative risk-taking writing and to allow pupils to practise the GPS skills they have been learning and apply them independently.
Writing is marked using our Herne marking code, which is displayed in every classroom. We use both formative and summative assessment information in every writing lesson. Our staff use this information to inform their future planning (AFL) and the planning of targeted interventions on provision maps. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils, including SEND, Pupil Premium and the more able.
The writing curriculum links closely to the experiences the pupils have had within their reading and other curricular areas. Teachers ensure that these writing opportunities are planned into other subject areas so that pupils can write for purpose and can practise, consolidate and apply their writing skills.
Assessment, Recording and Reporting
Formative assessment methods inform summative assessment judgements. Summative assessments of writing are completed in terms 2, 4 and 6. Teachers will use their professional judgement to determine whether a child is working within age-related expectations, above or below. They will base their judgements on the quality of the extended writing that pupils produce at the end of the writing units within the learning journey. Teachers will refer to the Herne Assessment Steps that have been developed for year groups as a support for making judgements and to inform future planning.
Assessments are discussed during termly Pupil Progress meetings held with class teachers and members of the Senior Leadership Team. Action plans and provision maps are produced to address the needs of specific pupils from the class. Attainment and progress is reported to parents through mid-year reports during the Spring term and end of year reports in the Summer term.
Monitoring and Review
A comprehensive monitoring cycle is developed at the beginning of each academic year. This identifies when monitoring is undertaken. Monitoring in writing includes data analysis, book looks, lesson observations and/or learning walks, lesson visits and pupil/parent and/or staff voice.
All of this information is gathered and reviewed. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in writing and is used to inform further curriculum developments (for the subject action plan or SIP) and identifies where further support is needed. The subject leader continues to monitor continuity and progression across the school and will also provide reports to the governors in which s/he evaluates the strengths and weaknesses in writing and indicates areas for further improvement. The subject leader will lead staff CPD in the teaching of writing in staff meetings (both teacher and TA), plan and run writing moderations and support with planning and assessment.