English - Writing
Subject Leader - Miss Holmes
Children are taught English in line with the National Curriculum.
Our aim at Rufford Primary and Nursery School is to help develop and encourage confident, fluent and expressive writers. We recognise that this requires children to develop the technical skills and also the creativity and vocabulary to express themselves effectively. From the early steps of fine motor skills, finger control and pencil grip to the technical aspects of English grammar, we believe that all our children can find pleasure in writing and expressing themselves. We know that one of the biggest challenges is knowing what to write about, never mind how to write it. That’s why the vast majority of our writing is linked to our creative curriculum so children are writing about things which they already know about. We also know that the links between what we read and what we write are huge and vital. That’s why we spend a great deal of time looking at vocabulary and sentence structure in our reading books. It is almost always the case that the most creative and confident writers are also avid readers.
Writing in the Nursery
Children in the nursery are developing the key foundations for being wonderful writers. Often they are doing this without a pen or pencil in sight! Activities and opportunities are carefully selected to help develop gross motor skills so that children can sit up and balance as well as fine motor skills so that they can manipulate small objects with their fingers and tools like pincers, tweezers and threading equipment. These skills are absolutely fundamental. In addition to developing these skills, children will begin experimenting with making marks using pens, pencils, paintbrushes etc. They will begin to assign meaning to the marks they make. We develop accuracy by providing opportunities to copy shapes, letters and pictures and develop creativity by allowing children to express themselves.
Writing in FS2
Children in FS2 continue to build upon those gross and fine motor skills which they began developing in nursery. Developing good habits and muscles takes time! In reading, their phonics work will begin introducing them to a range of letters. Opportunities are then provided for the children to apply that learning in their own writing. This means children are taught the correct letter formation from the very start. This is important because although a letter might look ‘neat’ if it hasn’t been formed correctly, the child will struggle to write fluently in the future. There will be lots of creative opportunities to apply their new phonic knowledge to writing words and simple sentences which others can read. At this age, a lot of our writing is done in creative and role play settings. It’s an important developmental point that children begin to recognise that their writing will always have a purpose and that purpose will be to communicate something.
Writing in KS1
In Year 1, we continue to provide opportunities to provide opportunities for children to apply their phonic knowledge to their own writing. These opportunities will increasingly come in the shape of writing linked to curriculum topics. Children further develop the understanding of the purpose of their writing by starting to recognise different genres i.e. Am I writing a poem or a letter? Is this fiction or non-fiction? We spend a lot of time rehearsing our sentences before we write them down. Children explore different ways of planning what they are going to write e.g. story maps. At this stage, children will start to develop the skills to plan and write a number of sentences around the same subject. Basic punctuation is taught so that children have the tools to ensure others can understand what they are trying to express. At Rufford, we know that it really supports our children when they can see good examples of the writing they are trying to produce and it’s also vital that they see how that finished piece of writing came about. For this reason, you’ll see an increasing amount of shared writing in classrooms. Teachers ‘think aloud’ as they write with the class and children are encouraged to use and adapt these examples in their own writing. From Year One onwards, we also begin introducing Alan Peat’s Writing Exciting Sentences. This is a teaching technique where we teach the children specific sentence structures, which they can then adapt and use themselves. Not only is this great fun but it also helps children begin to think about the impact of different sentence structures.
In Year 2 children start to develop more complex sentences. They are taught to introduce conjunctions like and or but to write sentences with more than one phrase. Children will have lots of opportunities to build up their writing stamina! By this we mean being able to plan and structure a longer cohesive piece of writing but also being able to sit and write for longer. The pencil grip and posture which they learned earlier will be really important here. Increasingly complex grammar and punctuation is taught explicitly but also woven into everyday teaching so that children can see where to apply their learning. The emphasis on shared writing continues.
Writing in KS2
Like children in KS1, writing in KS2 is linked closely to our topic work, includes regular grammar and spelling work, aims to incorporate vocabulary from our class reading, utilises Alan Peat’s exciting sentences and involves a lot of shared writing. In lower Key Stage Two, the children begin to have more control over their writing, they will be encouraged to use paragraphs to group ideas and will be provided with opportunities to edit and improve their writing, including independently using dictionaries. By the time the children reach upper Key Stage Two, the children are expected to take greater ownership of their writing. They will be developing their own style, influenced by shared writing and class and wider reading. There is a strong emphasis on using a range of different clauses and sentence types and the children are encouraged to think about who their audience is and adapt their tone to suite the purpose. Wherever possible, children are provided with a real purpose for their writing e.g. letters are actually sent to people and stories are actually shared with others.
We aim for our children to leave in Year 6 with the ability to write using their own style of fast, fluent, legible and sustainable handwriting, as well as other styles of writing for specific purposes. In addition to teaching handwriting during our regular handwriting lessons, we have high expectations that what is taught and practiced in handwriting lessons will be used in all writing activities. We believe that handwriting is integral to a child’s personal development and know that children’s engagement and self-esteem can be improved by their satisfaction and pride in good quality presentation.
Handwriting is a taught skill that develops at different rates for different children. All of the teachers in the school put a priority on teaching handwriting and have high expectations for handwriting across the curriculum. Our school uses Penpals for Handwriting to ensure that:
- The importance of handwriting is recognised and given appropriate time.
- The progression of handwriting is consistent across the school.
- Handwriting is acknowledged to be a whole body activity and emphasis is placed on correct posture and pencil grip for handwriting.
- Expectations of left-handed children are equal to those of right-handed children, and appropriate advice and resources are available to ensure that they learn to write with a comfortable, straight wrist.
- Handwriting is linked into grammar, punctuation and spelling in order to practice and contextualise all of the transcriptional and stylistic skills for writing.
- Children learn to self-assess their own writing and develop understanding and responsibility for improving it.
- Children learn to write in different styles for different purposes such as print for labelling a diagram, illustrated capitals letters for creating a poster, swift jottings for writing notes, making a ‘best copy’ for presentation and fast, fluent and legible writing across the curriculum.
Penpals enables us to teach and secure the development of handwriting throughout the school:
- First, children experience the foundation of handwriting through multi-sensory activities (EYFS F1 and F2).
- Correct letter formation is taught, practised, applied and consolidated (EYFS F1/Y1).
- Joining is introduced only after correct letter formation is used automatically (Y1/Y2/Y3).
- Joins are introduced systematically and cumulatively (Y2–Y6).
- As children practice joining, they pay attention to the size, proportion and spacing of their letters and words (Y3–Y6).
- Once the joins are secure, some children may begin to develop a slope in order to support increased speed and fluency (Y5).
- Children are introduced to different ways of joining in order that they can develop their own preferred personal style (Y6).
In using Penpals, we ensure that our children follow the requirements and recommendations of the National Curriculum. We share the aspirations that children’s handwriting should be ‘sufficiently fluent and effortless for them to manage the general demands of the curriculum’ and that ‘problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say’.
At Rufford we understand that good spelling begins with good phonics. Once children have completed their phonics study (during Year 1), they move on to No Nonsense Spelling. This scheme runs throughout the school. It encourages children to recognise the words which they personally need to learn to spell and encourages them to apply their spelling learning in all their work. As well as personalised spelling lists, children are taught the statutory word lists and common exception words for their year groups. Weekly spelling tests act as a way of reminding children of the importance of knowing how to spell these words and also helping children and teachers to recognise which words individual children know how to spell and which they still need to work on.