“Our curriculum promotes social mobility;
we give our children the roots to grow and the wings to fly.”
Writing at St George’s
At St George’s we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s enjoyment of reading, writing and discussion. English is not only taught through discrete lessons, but is at the heart of our whole curriculum. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to communicate and further their learning. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
Our aim is to provide children with key transferrable writing skills to build on year on year, that can be used throughout each phase of their education. Teaching children to write for a range of purposes and audiences can be very exciting, especially here at St George’s where we provide children with a range of engaging hooks to capture their imagination, as well as inspirational experiences to write about! We aim to provide the children with varied reasons for writing and believe that this not only produces higher quality writing, but allows our children to apply their skills to a range of different contexts.
We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We have short daily discrete Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar lessons where learning is linked to the writing objectives currently being covered, or recaps prior learning.
At St George’s, children receive English lessons daily and are exposed to age-related expectations for writing within a range of texts. Writing and reading are closely linked and we ensure that children are reading daily in order to build on their knowledge of different genres of writing and develop their vocabulary. All classes use a Talk4Writing structure to plan writing units which encourages plenty of discussion, questioning, imitating and learning texts along with actions that are rich with key skills. The texts chosen are linked to our curriculum topics and our St George’s ‘100 Books to Read Before Leaving St George’s’. Children follow a three-week overview, beginning with a ‘cold task’ (which is independent) to assess where the starting point is and what needs to be taught throughout the unit. Following this, the first week focuses on imitation of a text where they orally rehearse a section to internalise vocabulary and language structures as well as being immersed in the genre. The second week is the innovation phase, where teaching staff guide children with shared writing and children ‘have a go’ using the scaffolds provided. The final week is the independent application where children plan, write and edit their independent writing (which we call our ‘hot task’). The process then starts again with a different focus and genre.
Teachers demonstrate high quality modelling within each Literacy lesson and encourage children to include key vocabulary (linked to the wider curriculum), structure their work appropriately into coherent paragraphs and use the grammatical skills and punctuation taught at their year group level.
The use of a model text is used as an example of how to be successful at the start of each unit of work. This provides children with an end goal. Children are encouraged to use this as a structure but also innovate their writing to make it their own. They do this through the use of a boxing-up sheet (planning proforma) used within each unit. Teachers ensure that the standard of writing in the model text reflects the age-related outcomes for each specific year group.
At St George’s, we follow the 'PenPals' handwriting scheme. PenPals for Handwriting is a complete handwriting scheme for 3–11 year olds, offering clear progression through five developmental stages. This has been adapted to follow the order in which Read Write Inc. sounds are taught to our youngest children. It teaches children a fast and fluent handwriting style to help them achieve their potential in writing.
At St George’s we ensure that children are aware of their strengths and areas for development in writing so that learners can take ownership of their progress. Teachers leave next steps in books or give verbal feedback when marking to ensure that children know exactly what they need to do next to make progress in their writing and children are encouraged to respond to this in purple pen.
The impact on our children is clear: writing outcomes are strong, and progress, especially at the end of KS2, is excellent, demonstrating sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in all stages, children on the whole are confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. This is also evident across the curriculum.