Mrs S Wood – Writing Lead
Writing is not only a vital skill for life, it also empowers children to be able to communicate information, voice their opinion, construct arguments, convey instructions and even create imaginary people in imaginary worlds doing the most amazing things! Whether they’re crafting grounded debates or letting their imagination fly, at Hillfort, children are encouraged to be confident writers who can write for a variety of purposes and occasions across a range of genres and subjects.
When teaching writing, our children go through 3 phases of learning.
The first phase is learning the skills of writing. Forming letters correctly, spelling, as well as writing and punctuating sentences are the foundations which everything else builds upon. These vital skills are practised and mastered throughout the RWI phase. RWI (Read Write Inc) is a structured phonics programme which teaches children how to blend sounds for reading and segment sounds for spelling.
As children move on from RWI, they begin to learn how to write whole texts using a Talk for Writing approach, supported by secure teaching of key skills. Talk for Writing encourages children to learn a complete text ranging from 300 to 450 words (depending on their age). This is supported by actions and a pictorial map of the text. This process helps children to internalise important patterns of language and more complex sentence structures which they can then apply in their own writing. Giving them this structure provides a great scaffold to achieving success whilst they focus on their ideas.
The final phase starts mid-way through Year 5 as children move away from using such a structured approach to creating their own texts with more individuality. A longer model text is provided and children use this to identify specific techniques or skills which are particularly effective for the reader. In addition, children learn more technical sentence structures, using a greater range of punctuation. At a whole text level, whilst phase 2 focuses on following specific structures and rules, phase 3 encourages children to break the rules for a greater impact on the reader. Throughout this phase, the accuracy of their writing will improve and editing becomes second nature.
At Hillfort, we recognise the importance of each area of writing to ensure that our children have well-rounded skills.
This starts with the physical action of writing, ensuring good posture and pencil grip.
In EYFS and Y1, children learn how to form their letters correctly during their Read Write Inc lessons.
In Year 2, children learn to add flicks in preparation to join. They also learn the cursive the k and f.
In Year 3, children learn to join. The red letters below are break letters. Children are taught not to join from a break letter.
In Year 4, children learn to write in pen.
Beyond Year 4, children continue to develop speed and accuracy. Some children will begin to slant or make other amendments as they develop their own style.
Children initially learn to segment sounds for spelling in RWI, as well learning a number of tricky ‘red’ words and useful ‘story green’ words.
Once children have finished RWI, they start to follow our own progression document based on the National Curriculum. Children learn spelling rules and practice applying them altogether rather than following one specific rule a week at a time.
Children also learn and practice specific letter strings as well as the statutory words defined in the National Curriculum.
We don’t believe that the traditional weekly spelling test works effectively for enough children, so our programme depends on regular recap, practice and regular low stakes assessment to ensure that spelling rules and patterns are retained and not just learned for a week and then forgotten.
The teaching of grammar as a reader and writer flows through all of our writing teaching whether we’re teaching expanded noun phrases, complex sentences or fronted adverbials, we ensure we use the correct terminology from the start.
However, the formal teaching of grammar, which will prepare children for the GPS SATs test, does not start until the Spring term of Year 4. At this point, children are more ready for the rigour and complexity of formal grammar.
As with spelling, we follow our own progression map based on the National Curriculum ensuring each objective builds step-by-step. The pace through the progression map is governed by secure AfL, ensuring that children have time to recap and practice to build learning into their long-term memory.