The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.”
National Curriculum, July 2014
Being a Writer
“You can make anything by writing.”
At Millbrook, we use a text-based approach to teaching writing. Using quality, language-rich books to ‘hook’ the children, not only embeds reading in our English curriculum, but inspires their writing. Each chosen text acts as an ‘umbrella’ under which the children are taught to write for a clear purpose (writing to entertain; writing to inform; writing to discuss and writing to persuade) and known audience, using a range of fiction and non-fiction writing opportunities.
We have high expectations for handwriting and presentation across the school and we teach the children to use a cursive script from Year 1 upwards.
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.
Working walls are an important part of the learning process as they provide children with a form of continuous provision that they can refer to throughout the journey. These should detail the purpose for writing, vocabulary, skills being taught and modelled examples where appropriate. During the process, the working walls are referred to regularly and often. Key parts of the working wall remain after a learning journey so children are reminded and encouraged to use and apply these skills in other pieces of writing.
“Writing floats on a sea of talk.” James Britton
For each journey, children will be introduced to the 'Big Six'. These are ambitious words that are relevant to the text or the work being produced within the English learning journey. Through the 'Big Six', children will expand their vocabulary and knowledge of words. We believe that deliberately building vocabulary is one of the most important things that we can do as teachers. There are a minimum of 6 new words introduced to the children during each learning journey. These words are introduced as part of the ‘Stimulate and Generate’ phase of writing.
Our 'Big Six' words are displayed in classrooms and explored in their learning. This may include the definition of the word; what the type of word class it is; an example of the word within a sentence (related to the stimulus) and synonyms for that word.
Grammar and Punctuation
The explicit teaching of Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation is essential to the development of children’s speech and writing. Children from Year 1 to 6 learn key grammar and punctuation concepts in the context of writing as part of 'Capture, Sift and Sort' phase of writing. Having a firm understanding of these concepts, allows children to be confident in building and manipulating interesting and varied sentences. Furthermore, they can then discuss and analyse their own language and grammar choices, as well as those of others, using the appropriate terminology. While this knowledge prepares the children for the end of KS1 and KS2 SATs tests, it also helps them to write with improved accuracy and confidence and gives them choice as a writer.
In KS1, Year 1 continue to follow the Read, Write Inc phonics programme, whilst Year 2 children initially follow this scheme, and then progress to learning simple spelling rules and patterns from the National Curriculum. In KS2, Spelling is taught daily through short interactive games and investigations of spelling rules and patterns. This allows children to embed their newly-learned skills by practising their application.
Each week, children will be taught a spelling rule/pattern based on the curriculum. Spellings will go home based on the rule, along with words from the Year 3/4 and Year 5/6 curriculum words.
Writing Leadership Team
Mrs Faye Charlton
Miss Jess Woodward