Writing at Oakhurst
Oakhurst Community Primary School is committed to helping children to develop accurate and secure subject knowledge, skills and understanding as set out in the National Curriculum. We encourage children to be courageous and creative in their approach to writing and support them to embed ambitious vocabulary choices as they are equipped with the grammatical and stylistic techniques to effectively craft writing within a range of different genres. Writing is a crucial skill that is embedded across all year groups. Our aim is to ensure that the pupils who graduate from Oakhurst are able to communicate effectively through writing and to enjoy being able to express themselves in this way to a range of audiences.
In line with the National Curriculum (2014), we ensure that children in each year group are taught the required grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for their Key Stage.
At Oakhurst Community Primary School, we have chosen to use Jane Considine’s scheme ‘The Write Stuff’. All of our pupils write daily as we believe that regular practice is essential for children to make good progress.
What a Writing Lesson Looks Like
Experiences, Sentence Stacking and Independent Writing
Each writing unit is based on a high quality piece of literature and consists of a series of Experiences lessons and Sentence Stacking lessons.
These are sessions designed to stoke the children’s imaginations and provide them with the knowledge they need to get writing! We might go out on a trip, invite an expert into the classroom or take part in some drama.
Sentence Stacking Lessons
Sentence Stacking refers to the fact that sentences are stacked together and organised to engage the reader. Children actively participate in three short, intensive learning chunks that they can then immediately apply to their own writing. Each learning chunk individual is based on a sentence model and broken into three parts:
Initiate section – a stimulus is used to capture the children’s imagination and set up a sentence.
Model section – the teacher models a sentence that outlines clear writing features and techniques.
Enable section – the children write their sentence, following the model.
Independent Writing Lessons
At the end of the unit, children are presented with a series of independent writing lessons. Planning is a critical part of this sequence and children will formulate a plan to help them write independently. Once they have taken time and care to craft their written piece, time will be spent carefully and thoughtfully editing the piece to make sure it truly shines and showcases the child’s independent skills and capabilities.
The Write Stuff in the EYFS
At Oakhurst Community Primary School, we recognise the importance of getting off to a good start and place emphasis on establishing a strong foundation for writing in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). We also utilise the ‘Write Stuff’ approach to accomplish this goal.
What a Lesson Looks Like in the EYFS
Expert Talkers Become Great Writers
What a lesson looks like in the EYFS will vary according to the time of year and the level of support that is in place.
We recognise that expert talkers eventually become great writers: word collectors become sentence makers. For this reason, we endeavour to immerse children in an environment that is rich with language and engage children in meaningful and memorable conversations. Exposure to new words is carefully planned to ensure that children rapidly expand on their vocabularies.
As children begin to grasp phonics and make the connection between spoken and written language, they are encouraged to begin mark making and assigning meaning to the marks that they make.
English Lesson Sequence
Each year group has a yearly overview of writing units, both narrative and non-fiction. These have been planned to ensure correct coverage of required skills, key genres and to ensure that children build on skills from year to year.
Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum. We have chosen to use Jane Considine’s ‘The Spelling Book’ to support the delivery of the spelling curriculum. Our approach explicitly builds in opportunities for children to revisit, rehearse and keep ‘live’ the spelling rules from previous academic years.
It is paramount that children are rigorously taught correct letter formation from the very beginning of their time in school. During the foundation stage at Oakhurst Community Primary School, the children are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct position and develop a legible handwriting style. From Key Stage 1, the school adopts a cursive handwriting style. Teachers are expected to role model the school’s handwriting style when marking children’s work, writing on the board and on displays around the school.
Not only are teachers able to base their judgements on the quality of the independent writing that pupils produce at the end of each unit, but the school also participates in the ‘Assessing Primary Writing’ national project run by ‘No More Marking: Comparative Judgement’. This enables our teachers to access an annual assessment window in which teachers from over one thousand primary schools engage in collaborative moderation.
Children leave Oakhurst Community Primary School with the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to write successfully for a range of purposes and audiences. With the implementation of the writing sequence being established and taught throughout the school, children are becoming more confident writers and have the ability to plan, draft and edit their own work. As a result of their focus on expanding their vocabularies, children appreciate the importance of selecting the right words and phrases for effect and impact.
The impact of our writing curriculum will be shown through:
- summative assessment of grammatical and spelling knowledge through the use of National Foundation for Educational Research (NfER) tests and
- outcomes from the national No More Marking: Comparative Judgment Assessing Primary Writing project, which enables teachers to access an annual assessment window in which over a thousand primary schools collaboratively judge the quality of written outcomes.
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