English curriculum – writing

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At Dartford Primary Academy (DPA) we want to ensure that children develop a love of writing either for the practical purpose it holds, particularly when communicating, or for the artistic opportunities it gives for expression of the self. We want to equip all children with the skills they need to use writing for whatever purposes they need it for and to be proud of what they produce. This is achieved through weaving the National Curriculum for writing through the transdisciplinary themes of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP). This ensures that children have a purpose for what they are writing, and an audience, so that they aspire to make every piece they produce their very best.

We teach all elements of the writing National Curriculum progressively to ensure children have a secure knowledge-base in transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).

Writing lessons are both discrete and transdisciplinary at DPA. When needed, the staff have the freedom to teach specific, discrete skills that children need. Children are then given the opportunity to apply these skills in the pieces they produce.

Children are usually taught at least one discrete grammar lesson a week to allow them to learn new skills to apply in their writing. Our 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.

Children also have the opportunity to learn spelling rules through inquiry once a week with additional short spelling consolidation activities threaded in through the curriculum. These ensure that the children can revisit spelling rules and apply accurate spelling to their writing. The children are tested on the spelling rules each week and these results are tracked to ensure progress.

At Dartford Primary Academy, we expect all students to take pride in presenting their work to the very best of their current ability and teach them a joined letter formation – progressively – as part of this. At all times, the individual needs of children will be catered for and appropriate personalised strategies and resources will be used with those children 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. (Children have personalised line spacing within these books.) Teachers supervise children as they write. Teachers (including teaching assistants, supply teachers and students) will model correctly joined 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.

Throughout the rest of the week, writing skills are embedded as part of our inquiry lessons. This ensures that children are given to the time to generate ideas, conduct research, plan, revise and evaluate their writing. We focus on allowing time to generate ideas so that children can focus on the craft of writing when it comes to recording them. Children are given the opportunity to write for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences as evident in our writing genre document.

Learning walks are carried out to ensure that high standards of delivery of the writing curriculum are met. Where good practice is identified, it is shared with staff through CPD to help refresh or improve subject knowledge.

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 children to independently edit and improve their writing.

English book scrutinies and writing moderations are carried out to check that standards across DPA are consistent and children are progressing at least as expected. We identify children who need support and provide intervention for those who aren’t meeting the expected standard.

We provide opportunities to celebrate children’s hard work, through our writing display walls. This enables children to reflect on their work, as well as give them opportunities to learn from others and this supports, respect, compassion and classroom community.

By the time children reach Year 6, they will be familiar with well-known writing genres and the grammar skills they need to demonstrate when composing a piece.

Writing outcomes at KS2 are above national average and have been on an upward trend for the past three years. We aim to keep with this trend so that every child at least makes expected progress and has the skills they need to equip themselves for the challenges of the secondary curriculum and beyond.