Being able to write confidently and fluently is a vital life skill. It allows us to interact with the world, to record information, to communicate our ideas, feelings and opinions, to be creative and to develop and sustain relationships with others.
In school, being able to write enables children to participate fully in lessons, across every subject and in all year groups. It allows them to communicate ideas and responses in different ways and demonstrate their skills, knowledge, understanding and imagination. Therefore, we aim to support children to develop not only the practical ability to write but also an enjoyment and appreciation of writing and everything it can offer.
A number of elements combine to build up the skill of writing. Physical movement and strength, handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation, vocabulary knowledge, sentence and paragraph structure and awareness of the overall style and purpose of a text. While some of these are taught in stand-alone lessons, such as handwriting, spelling and on some occasions grammar, on the whole we support children with developing all of these integrated aspects whenever they are writing, in whatever lesson they are in. As they progress through school, pupils will develop and consolidate their skills by building on previous learning and engaging with a wide variety of example texts, they will write in a range of contexts and take part in whole school activities designed to inspire them to write independently and for pleasure. In line with the National Curriculum guidance, we aim for all children to be able to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for different purposes and audiences.
Writing in Early Years
In Early Years, writing comes under Literacy, one of the specific focuses of the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework. Children attend a daily lesson delivered using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme where they not only learn to read accurately and fluently but they learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas for writing step-by-step. By quickly building up knowledge of the graphemes used to represent each of the speech sounds in the English language, children can start to write simple words early on and enjoy the feeling of success straight away when it comes to writing. They write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to write and composing sentence by sentence until they are confident enough to write independently. They also practice handwriting every day: sitting at a table comfortably, learning correct letter formation and, eventually, joining letters. Through the books they read, children are exposed to adventurous vocabulary, which they can then use in their own writing.
Beyond the Read Write Inc. Phonics lessons, opportunities for writing practice are embedded throughout the Early Year setting. Children take part in weekly fine motor afternoons where they enjoy activities designed to build the strength and control needed to hold and manoeuvre a pencil or pen. They also carry out a ‘plan, do, review’ task which will require children to write either during the activity or when they are reviewing the task they have carried out. Writing will be planned in specifically as part of the Early Years topic and R.E lessons but there is also plenty of ‘in the moment’ writing linked to whatever activity a child has chosen to explore. For example, if they were in the home corner, the teacher could support them in writing a shopping list. A daily morning task also focuses on letter and number formation to support children in recording answers and ideas from the earliest stages of learning.
Writing in Key Stage 1
As above, in Key Stage 1 children attend a daily Literacy lesson delivered using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme, which supports them in letter formation, spelling and composition as well as reading. They continue to build their knowledge of the alphabetic code (graphemes used to represent each of the speech sounds) and have the opportunity to write in every Read Write Inc. lesson. They practice handwriting each day and continue to be exposed to adventurous vocabulary, which they are encouraged to use when writing independently. When children have completed the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme they move on to Literacy lessons following our school Writing curriculum, which they will also go on to use throughout Key Stage 2. This ensures a smooth transition into the type of Literacy lessons children will encounter as they move up a phase.
Writing in Key Stage 2
In Key Stage 2, pupils continue to develop their transcription skills so that they are able to write down ideas fluently. This includes being able to spell quickly and accurately but also depends on fluent and legible handwriting. Children also build on their composition skills, articulating their ideas and structuring them coherently for a reader. This requires an awareness of the audience, purpose and context and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Alongside this, they will be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.
Years 3 to 6 have a daily Literacy lesson. Our curriculum has been designed in line with the National Curriculum guidance and uses a range of carefully selected stories, plays, poems and non-fiction texts by leading children’s authors, which are stimulating and challenging as well as being accessible to children at the required level. Each unit of work focuses on a different study text and the linked activities provide opportunities for children to develop their reading comprehension and writing composition skills, grammar and vocabulary knowledge, critical thinking and use of spoken language.
The writing skills that are taught specifically in their Literacy sessions are then applied to other lessons across the curriculum, giving children more chances to write for different purposes and in different contexts. For example, subjects such as Science and Maths provide children with excellent opportunities to use technical vocabulary specific to those subjects and often present writing challenges as they are required to explain mathematical or scientific concepts coherently.
Handwriting and spellings
Handwriting and spelling lessons are delivered as weekly stand-alone lessons in both Key Stage 1 and 2. The content of these sessions is then reinforced whenever children are writing in other lessons, across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in-class verbal feedback or marking.
We use the Penpals handwriting scheme in Year 1, moving on to Nelson Handwriting from Year 2 onwards. This is a whole-school programme which ensures a consistent approach across year groups in supporting all children to develop a legible, joined handwriting style. The resources include pattern practice and motor skills as well as fun activities to bring handwriting to life in different contexts.
We use the Read Write Inc. Spellings scheme, starting in Year 2, which is underpinned by phonics, fast-paced lessons and engaging interactive online resources. The content for each unit of work has been specifically matched to the National Curriculum spelling requirements. Spelling homework is set each week, linked to the spelling rule or set of words that is being taught in class.
The table below shows the writing units covered in Key Stage 1 and 2 after children have completed the Read Write Inc. Programme.
Here are some useful links that you and your child may find helpful for supporting writing development: