This year, we have launched a new approach to Writing - we will continue to update our Writing page over the course of the year so please do watch this space!
Writing is an important lifelong skill. Children need to learn to write so they can communicate and express themselves (DfE, National Curriculum).
At Thameside, we recognise that writing is an essential part of our lives and is closely linked to communication: learning how to write supports communication with the world in a more meaningful way. It is a natural extension of speech and reading, offering a blank canvas for children’s imagination and a way to share their unique ideas and thoughts with others. We believe that making secure links between the reading and writing process is key.
What makes writing different at Thameside?
“You can make anything by writing.” (C S Lewis, Author)
At Thameside, we encourage the children to ‘read as a writer’ and ‘write as a reader’. Carefully chosen, language-rich books inspire and stimulate a broad range of writing opportunities (to entertain, inform, persuade and discuss) and tasks are crafted to teach children how to write for different audiences and a variety of purposes. Writing is underpinned by a bespoke Writing spine to ensure that 'hook texts' support the development of the intended outcome.
Our writing curriculum has been developed with fine attention to ensure that as children progress through the school, their skills develop in both an age and stage appropriate way. Each unit of writing develops progressively within a 3-stage writing process.
Children first enter the Stimulate and Generate phase of writing. Here the unit begins with a rich text stimulus and provides opportunities for children to explore spoken language, word level work and develop cultural capital (through visitors, trips, images, props). The aim of this initial phase is to immerse our children in the vocabulary that they will need to use to write effectively. The next stage of the learning journey is the Capture, Sift and Sort phase. Here children explore the skills needed for the final outcome (planning; exploring genre and form; embedded grammar, punctuation and spelling). In addition, the children complete apprentice writes which provide contextualised opportunities to practise the writing skills that they will use in their final piece. The final stage of the writing process is the Create, Refine and Evaluate phase where teachers continue to teach skills and behaviours of a writer and children create a written outcome for a known audience. This is the phase of writing where children proof-read and edit their work: our learners are challenged and encouraged to take risks and view mistakes as another part of the learning process. The learning journey finishes with opportunities for children to publish their work ready for celebration and/or presentation.
What are lessons like?
Before putting words down on paper, children need to have a clear sense of the writing outcome - this means organising their thoughts and processing them before using them in a piece of writing.
Following a ‘hook’ which engages the children in the learning journey, the process continues with an emphasis on vocabulary. A variety of activities allow the children to explore new, purposeful words while encouraging talking, thinking and making links to their prior background knowledge.
Throughout the writing process, children are introduced to, and taught, the necessary grammatical and textual features to support success. The ‘I do, we do, you do’ teaching approach is used to ensure that new skills are modelled first by the teacher, with the pupils practising them with increasing independence through ‘apprentice writes’. In addition, ‘drop-in writes’ allow the children to apply previously taught writing genres in a new context.
What do we mean by progress?
Our writing curriculum is designed to build on prior knowledge and skills. Pupils will make purposeful links and build on their grammatical and structural knowledge in order to progress and develop their own writing styles. Across the school, and within each year group, writing opportunities are planned to ensure children experience different writing styles and genres which can be built upon.
What do we mean by assessment?
Writing is assessed regularly, lesson by lesson and after independent writing opportunities. To support the assessment of pupil’s progress and development in meeting age related expectations, we use our ‘end of year expectations’ statements, which reflect the National Curriculum objectives.