At Chalfont St. Giles Village School, we want our pupils to have a strong command of the spoken and written word, whilst developing a love of literature. We want to develop their abilities to use language to think, explore, organise and communicate significant meanings thus enabling them to achieve their potential and develop self-esteem.
Writing is a primary means of expression, both for personal cognitive purposes and for communicating meaning with others. Pupils learn how to write with confidence, fluency, imagination and accuracy by orchestrating their knowledge of context and composition, grammatical knowledge, knowledge of phonics, word recognition and graphic knowledge.
This school believes that:
At Chalfont St Giles, we teach writing following the ‘Teaching Sequence for Writing’ (Imitation, Innovation, Invention) incorporating the ‘Talk for Writing’ principles within our Power of Reading scheme in Literacy. The Power of Reading scheme is an approach that the school has embraced and is an extremely successful method of teaching which focuses on speaking and listening strategies in order to embed a model text. It is a proven resource and training programme which uses quality children’s literature and creative teaching approaches to support schools to develop a high quality literacy curriculum and foster a whole school love of reading and writing.
The following terms are used to describe the phases each child will have experience of during their time at school.
Through well planned writing experiences children are taught the two aspects of writing, ‘transcription’ (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
Our writing plans are linked where possible to the topics for each half term. This ensures that extended, purposeful writing opportunities are planned across the curriculum which will engage and encourage the children with their writing. For example, in Reception children build on first-hand experience from role play and everyday life to begin their writing journey; in Year 6 one of our topics is ‘Ancient Greece’ and they focus on ‘The Adventure of Odysseus’ to assist their writing and provide them with some context. Through these well-structured units of work, the children are also directly taught grammar and punctuation. Each unit lasts between 2-3 weeks to ensure in depth coverage of a genre. Towards the end of the unit the children use the skills they have been taught and apply these to their writing in the Big Write sessions.
Teachers embed the Talk for Writing approach within the Power of Reading Scheme to plan and often write a text (story, explanation text, non-chronological report etc) which often relates to their termly topic: the children orally rehearse texts they have read alongside actions and a text map to learn and understand the features in a piece of writing. Teachers regularly model writing in daily shared writing sessions and we provide regular opportunities for children’s writing and ideas to be shared, displayed, published and celebrated.
In this school, pupils will be given opportunities to interrelate the requirements of English within a broad and balanced approach to the teaching of English across the curriculum, with opportunities to consolidate and practise taught literacy skills. We will:
Medium-term plans detail the cross curricular links and the order in which the units of work will be taught in each year group and the length of the unit. The plans ensure an appropriate balance and distribution of work across each term.
Short term plans respond to the needs of the children and ensure that the unit aims are met. Each unit provides a clear context for learning and a step by step approach to building the core skills required. Children are given planned opportunities to apply these skills within a unit. Differentiation is clearly shown and ensures that all children make maximum progress and receive support where necessary.
Spelling is an integral part of the writing process. Pupils who spell with ease are able to concentrate on the content of their writing and the making of meaning. While it is important to remember that spelling is not the most important aspect of writing, confidence in spelling often has a profound effect on the writer’s self-image.
In the Early Years and Key Stage 1 phonics is taught on a daily basis through the systematic synthetic phonics approved scheme ‘Bug Club’. For spelling purposes, the emphasis is on the pupils’ ability to segment words into phonemes and then match the most likely letter or letters to each sound.
In addition, pupils, when ready, will continue to learn how to spell a number of high frequency words and common irregular words enabling them to write fluently. They investigate and learn to use common spellings and frequently used prefixes and inflectional endings in their own writing. Pupils become increasingly independent. They identify reasons for misspellings in their own work and are taught how to use a simple dictionary, a range of word banks and their knowledge of word families. Children are taught the statutory words by the end of Key Stage One and Two and practise how to apply them correctly and effectively to their writing.
The school has a handwriting policy centred on a cursive script. Physical development in the Nursery and Reception classes includes plenty of opportunity to develop eye-hand co-ordination and fine and gross muscle control which will enable each child to be a successful writer. The children gain a wide range of experiences in the Early Years in order to learn the correct letter shapes and formation.
These activities include:
As the children move through the school they continue to build their handwriting skills and these become more refined. Each week the children have specific time allocated to developing these skills. The children focus on learning shape and letter patterns and the following letter families.
All those that start with an anti-clockwise turn c, a, o, d, g, q, s
All those with long and short straight lines l, t, u, y
All those that start at the top, descend and go back up the line n, m, r, p, b, h, k
All those made with zig-zag lines v, w, x, z,f,e
Once the letters are being formed in the correct direction, children are taught to join their letter using a cursive style. They also consider placement on the lines (e.g. hanging ascenders below the line) and differentiation between upper and lower case letters.
To measure the impact of our curriculum, we regularly use pupils’ books to capture an insight into the effectiveness of our curriculum. Pupils’ work demonstrates the effectiveness of the curriculum where age-appropriate grammar knowledge and writing skills are developed over a sequence of lessons which lead towards pupils writing independent pieces.
In addition, we regularly collate pupil voice to ensure our curriculum meets the needs of the children. As a result, children are exposed to a varied menu of genres and write for a range of audiences and purposes, with high quality models derived from a range of texts used to inspire their own writing. Through pupil interview, children can articulate the resources they have access to in order to improve and establish themselves as authors in their own right.
Pupils’ gain cultural capital through the carefully crafted choice of texts used – the exposure to a range of genres, authors and novels allows for pupils to read often and widely and provide a stimulus and high quality model to inspire pupils to have future aspirations as authors, journalists, editors and beyond.
Examples of high quality work derived as a result of the writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling are used on our corridors as a learning showcase. This ensures pupils are proud of their work and strive to work towards achieving the same high standards. Impact in the curriculum can also be seen through the Statutory Assessment Tests and through termly summative assessments across school which enables pupils’ progress and attainment in the subject matter to be evaluated.
These year group overviews give an indication of the genres of writing the children will do each term.