English curriculum – writing

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The purpose of the writing curriculum at Dartford Primary Academy (DPA) is to ensure that children develop a love of writing. This is achieved through weaving the National Curriculum for writing through the transdisciplinary themes of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). Through doing this, all of the children’s writing at DPA is cross-curricular. This provides an engaging way of writing for a reason and the children can understand the purpose of what they are writing about. We aspire for children to develop a secure knowledge-base in writing, which follows a clear pathway of curriculum progression as they advance through EYFS and then Key Stages 1 and 2. The curriculum is sequentially mapped to make clear the endpoints it is building towards and what pupils need to know and be able to do to reach those endpoints.  Also, it is progressively planned and sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what they have been taught before. We believe the design of the curriculum helps to address the social disadvantage of our local context and address the typical gaps in children’s knowledge and skills. Consequently, it is our belief that, regardless of need or background, all children will acquire the knowledge and skills to become confident writers as being able to write is an essential tool that forms the basis for children’s lifelong learning opportunities. This will enable them to participate fully and confidently as active members of society with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.

We ensure that writing is purposeful and meaningful for the children. The use of a wide variety of high quality texts in our reading spine also helps to motivate and inspire our children’s imaginations when writing. Furthermore, teachers ensure that cross curricular links are at the forefront of their minds when planning their writing activities. Additionally, children are given the opportunity to write for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences as evident in our writing genre document. Furthermore, across both key stages we encourage teachers to allow children to participate in whole-class or small group talk as a preparation for writing to allow children to practise their spoken language skills. This also helps the children to have a model of good sentence structure. At KS1, strong phonics teaching also is the main vehicle for developing children’s spelling skills at an early age. The high expectations that are installed follow the children through into KS2.

Children are taught one discrete grammar lesson a week to allow them to learn new skills to apply in their writing. The grammar progression document clearly identifies the pathway the children take from EYFS to Year 6 and how they can develop these skills over the course of their time at DPA and, ultimately, the quality of their writing.  In addition to a discrete grammar lesson,  children also have the opportunity to learn spelling rules through the use of Spelling Shed. During the week, the children are set short spelling assignments through the programme so the children can revisit the spelling rule at school or at home. At KS2, the children are tested on the spelling rules each week through a ‘Hive Game’ where they compete against other children in their class to get to the top of the leaderboard. At KS1, the children will be tested on 5 spelling words from the spelling rule they have learned that week.  A ‘Star Speller’ is awarded from each class every week and they are presented with their certificate in Celebration Assembly.

At Dartford Primary Academy, we expect all students to take pride in presenting their work to the very best of their current ability and teaching them a joined letter formation – progressively – is part of this. At all times, the individual needs of pupils will be catered for and appropriate personalised strategies and resources will be used with those pupils who need them. Handwriting is taught as discrete lessons in classes, groups or individually as appropriate and is written in English Skills books from Year One onwards. (Pupils have personalised line spacing within these books.) Teachers supervise children as they write. Teachers (including teaching assistants, supply teachers and students) will model correct handwriting at all times – writing on the board and marking books. Where possible, handwriting lessons are linked to phonic development and spelling patterns. High expectations of handwriting and presentation are held by all staff. Displays throughout the school include joined writing and computer generated writing. From Year Two upwards, children may start to use a blue ink pen if their teacher feels that they are ready to receive a handwriting licence. Termly learning walks are performed to ensure that high standards of delivery of the writing curriculum are met. Where good practice is identified, it will be shared with staff through CPD.

To ensure that children are making at least expected progress, teachers follow our marking policy. The marking policy has also been designed to allow children time to respond to the marking and to guide them to eventually independently edit and improve their writing and to consolidate their learning. We use this assessment to check pupil’s understanding as well as to identify and correct misconceptions. As a result, this will inform future teaching and learning opportunities. Also, it will help children to embed and use knowledge fluently and develop their understanding of key concepts in order to fix them in their long-term memory.

Regular English book scrutinies and writing moderations are carried out to check that standards across DPA are consistent. Children are fully aware of our book presentation and handwriting expectations and are encouraged to take pride in their work in order to provide a baseline of acceptable standards. We provide the opportunities to celebrate children’s hard work through our writing display walls. This enables children to reflect on their work. Furthermore, it gives them opportunities to learn from others and this supports, respect, compassion and classroom community. In addition, throughout the school year, our English curriculum is enhanced through World Book Day and a range of trips and visits which enrich and complement children’s learning. At DPA, we identify children who need support and provide intervention for those who aren’t meeting the expected standard in writing. Children on the SEND register also have carefully arranged personalised plans that map out individual learning targets termly, so that every child is reaching their full potential by providing the appropriate support and resources for them. We believe this action will equip children with the confidence, tools and strategies that they need to be confident writers.

At DPA, we have a clear pathway of progression in writing through sustained learning and transferable skills. We want our children to be confident writers. By the time children reach Year 6, we expect them to be familiar with well-known writing genres and the grammar skills they need to demonstrate when composing a piece. Therefore our teaching focuses on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills by the end of KS2. Implementing cross curricular writing through the PYP, encourages children to take ownership of their work and boosts creativity and transferable skills into other subjects- showing consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific spellings, grammar and punctuation skills in the appropriate form. Through this, all children, including those who are disadvantaged and pupils with SEND, make progress as they know more, remember more and are able to do more.  Consistently, writing outcomes at KS2 are above national average.  Every child who leaves DPA has the knowledge, skills and cultural capital they need to equip themselves for the challenges of the secondary curriculum and beyond in their future careers.