Writing at Water Leys
'The English language is a work in progress. Have fun with it!'
Intent – What we are trying to achieve?
At Water Leys, English is at the heart of everything we do. By the end of Year Six, we want our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. We also intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. We set high expectations for all our children to take pride in their work and have a fluent, cursive handwriting style alongside allowing their imaginations to flourish.
Through the use of high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met, our children will be exposed to a language heavy, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
What do we want from our curriculum?
Implementation – How do we translate our vision into practice
At Water Leys we use the ‘read to write’ approach in our teaching of English, drawing on both reading and writing skills. We use carefully selected, vocabulary-rich texts as a vehicle for teaching reading and writing. Through our approach, the children are explicitly taught vocabulary and contextualised spelling, punctuation and grammar whilst exploring example texts linked to a writing outcome.
A writing unit follows clear, sequential episodes of learning based around a model text, that involve the following elements:
· Immersion in a text (exploring and responding to the text)
· Analysis of text and language structures
· Planning writing (gathering ideas)
· Independent application of skills (including teacher modelled and guided writes)
The vehicle texts provide the children with a wealth of writing opportunities across a range of genres, giving them the chance to draw on their reading and to adapt their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. The children also have the opportunity to edit their work during every writing lesson, where they are able to focus on refining word and sentence level choices, as well considering their coherence within and across paragraphs.
Vocabulary is a strong indicator of reading success (National Literacy Trust, 2017). We know from research that the size of a child’s vocabulary is the best predictor of success on future tests. Children with a poor vocabulary at five are four times more likely to struggle with reading in adulthood (Why Closing the Word Gap Matters: Oxford Language Report, 2018).
At Water Leys, we value the importance of the explicit pre-teaching of vocabulary so that our children don’t stumble on unknown words, allowing them to have a better understanding of a text. We also know that a good understanding of a wide range of vocabulary supports success across the whole national curriculum, therefore new vocabulary is carefully selected and explicitly taught to the children, developing their vocabulary bank in English and across the curriculum
At Water Leys, we teach spelling in context within our ‘Read to Write’ units of work. In addition to this (in years 2-6) we use the ‘Read, Write Inc ’ spelling scheme. This scheme helps our teachers deliver short, daily, 10-15 minute lessons in addition to the main English lesson. This ensures that children are taught the full breadth of spelling patterns appropriate to each year group and age phase.
Impact – What is the impact of our curriculum on the students?
The impact of our high quality writing curriculum will be that children at Water Leys Primary school will make good progress in writing from their own personal starting points. They will be children who feel inspired to write creatively with confidence. Our children will be able to write clearly, using an increased understanding of effective vocabulary and punctuation, as well as being able to adapt their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. They will have the ability to write with stamina for increased periods of time and the ability to transfer their writing skills across the curriculum. Most importantly, they will develop a love of writing and be well equipped with the necessary writing skills for the remainder of their education and for life beyond school.