Writing at Hawthorn
Writing is a vital part of the curriculum at Hawthorn Primary School. Therefore, we have encouraged the use of a bespoke and balanced writing curriculum, which is inspired by children’s fiction, engaging stimuli and the wider curriculum.
By the end of primary school, we aim for our children to have developed a love for writing and to be able to creatively express their thoughts, ideas and wild imaginations through their written word. The writing curriculum at our school encourages children to immerse themselves in different text types, understand the features and impact of these, and realise the importance of them beyond education. A secure knowledge of spelling, grammar, handwriting and an understanding of how to edit writing is taught throughout the school in a systematic and progressive way. The content of writing lessons is planned to build on children’s previous knowledge, with teachers planning diagnostically to teach what is needed as well as introduce new learning in a fun and memorable way.
"You can make anything by writing" - C.S Lewis.
In order to help us develop confident writers who can express themselves through their words, we have devised a bespoke writing and spelling curriculum. This curriculum is cross-curricular which provides the children opportunities to write for a range of purposes and audiences whilst also being engaging and facilitating chances to apply Tier 3 vocabulary from foundation subjects.
At Hawthorn, we use the ‘ISHA’ handwriting scheme, which is a progressive, non-cursive scheme concentrating on the formation, sizing and joining of letters.
- Handwriting and letter formation is a vital part of the English Curriculum in Nursery and Reception.
- Accuracy of letter and digit formation is continued throughout KS1.
- All lined books throughout KS1 and KS2 get progressively smaller to encourage the appropriate use of ascenders, descenders and smaller letters.
- Children begin the progressive joining letter scheme from Y2.
- Staff model the handwriting scheme to children at all opportunities.
- Children are awarded a ‘pen license’ when they can demonstrate consistent, legible joined handwriting and smart presentation across all of their workbooks.
- Handwriting is frequently taught using specific starter activities in writing books and a discrete handwriting book.
As part of our bespoke writing curriculum, we have decided to implement a discrete, daily SPaG lesson to help to build the fundamentals of writing. We have mapped out all grammar objectives stated from the National Curriculum into a ‘Place Value of Punctuation’ which allows for new concepts to be ‘layered’ throughout school. This place value of punctuation starts from Reception.
To ensure consistency and fidelity amongst our pupils' learning, all children that pass their phonics screening check and show a strong understanding of the phonetic code follow the RWI spelling scheme. This scheme follows a rigid structure and exposes children to a range of activities which extends their phonetic understanding of spelling rules, vocabulary, etymology and word families.
The Writing Journey
Our bespoke curriculum for KS1 and KS2 maps out the unit of writing using high-quality texts which are shared within writing and reading lessons. As with our other areas of English, this document is progressive and allows teachers to see previously taught genres, spelling rules and features; it also allows for certain elements of written practice to be repeated to ensure understanding:
- The writing journey begins with an initial write – this is an opportunity for children to demonstrate their pre-requisite skills and current understanding of a text type. Where this text type has been seen before, children’s initial writes will be in the form of writing; if this text type is new to them, their initial write will be in the form of a discussion or a concrete task. The aim of this is for teachers to be able to ‘diagnose’ the gaps in children’s writing knowledge for this particular text type, which is guided by an agreed checklist.
- Children are shown an example of ‘what a good one looks like’. After identifying key Tier 2 vocabulary and creating a vocabulary wall, children will deconstruct the text looking for the specific organisation and language features of that piece of writing. This creates a ‘recipe’ which they can then apply to a comparative text (KS2).
- Children are taught the required grammar and spelling for the writing journey in a contextualised manner. This part of the journey is the longest in order to ‘build’ the skills children will need to apply.
- Children are taught the application of writing through a combination of high-quality modelled writing, shared writing and paired writing. This allows them to understand the ‘mechanics’ of writing, to experiment with vocabulary and structures and to allow the teacher to apply assessment for learning.
- Children will complete an independent write ‘final write’ which will be a culmination of the children’s’ writing journey to this point. Where applicable, the final writing outcome will be ‘twisted’ to allow for independent application of their newly acquired skills.
Children’s writing is assessed at the end of a final write against a year-group-specific writing assessment form. This piece of writing will be highly marked to aid progress. The writing moderation form acts as a target builder for the children.
From regular monitoring, whole school moderation, and teacher interviews – it is evident that the teaching of writing is done in a systematic and progressive way across school. Teachers and children are aware of the learning requirements and in particular the expectation for high standards. Our curriculum allows for teachers to be using AfL constantly to adapt and adjust their curriculum offer according to the needs of individual children.
As a result of the direct, discrete grammar sessions, the outcome of SPaG assessments across all classes are at an all-time high. Most children are very confident in identifying and relating their knowledge of SPaG. Children show progress within the year and across the year groups in the content and stamina of their writing.
Teachers use the Hawthorn assessment sheets alongside a range of the child’s writing to monitor progress and assess them at key points throughout the school year. This is also done through in-school and inter-school writing moderation. This information is shared with children and parents three times per academic year.