Introduction to the teaching and learning of Writing at Wickhambreaux CEPS
Writing and composition are key skills that underpin so much at school and in life. In recognising this importance, Wickhambreaux CEPS ensures that from every pupil’s first days at school to the last, they learn and refine the skills to enable them to experience a far-reaching range of opportunities to use language (both spoken and written).
In the EYFS/Reception class on our school, the children are immersed in a fabulously language rich environment, with each child receiving individual support in learning and moving forward with those key basic skills that are needed to build a fulfilling literacy base from. Alongside the reading and spelling support of our phonics programme Letters and Sounds the children will apply this learning with integrated handwriting and sentence construction work to fully engage with a flexible mastery of their phonic learning.
As the children move into KS1, they are still individually observed to ensure that all different developmental levels of written language attainment are achieved and consolidated. Once their transcription skills are flourishing, the children also move onto a distinctive focus upon vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. At Wickhambreaux CEPS we follow two all-encompassing programmes, No Nonsense Grammar and No Nonsense Spelling from Raintree, which guide the teaching of these areas to cover National Curriculum requirements, but also using the children’s experience of literature to root a deeper understanding of how grammar and spelling in the English language works. Alongside this discrete teaching of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, the children meet a huge amount of varied opportunities to utilise these skills, whilst still focusing upon extending their creative thinking and compositional skills.
In KS2, the children continue to follow the teaching guidance from the Raintree NNS and NNG programmes building a greater depth of skills and knowledge in transcription and vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, whilst meeting a wealth of different purposes to employ a wide range of different written styles that they are taught as they move throughout the school. Also, all the way through school, excellent handwritten presentation skills are taught, supported and expected.
The children’s progress in writing is frequently and regularly assessed, both via ongoing informal, formative class teacher observation and feedback and also via more summative assessment where we use GL Education’s New Group Spelling Tests every seasonal term. Also in each seasonal term, both Key Stages will employ an evidence-gaining, free-writing task, along similar lines to the Big Write, to gauge application of written literacy skills and strategies that have been taught that term. This assessment is vital in ensuring that the children are making excellent progress and to put supportive measures into place, if not.
Also, in the early stages of the children’s time at school in KS1, if a child is finding they are unable to keep up with their peers in writing and reading there are support packages available. We are extremely fortunate to have an experienced Reading Recovery trained teacher who delivers an individualised literacy intervention programme which builds on and improves children’s written skills as well as reading as there is a deep reciprocity between these two areas.
Subject Leader Profile
Hayley Redmond BSc (Hons), M Ed, PGCE (Primary), AMBDA
English Subject Leader; School Reading Manager; Reading Recovery Trained Teacher; Better Reading Partnership Trainer and Co-ordinator -
Hayley Redmond has been a Primary School Teacher since 1994. She has taught in schools in London and Kent and has been teaching as the School Reading Manager, and more recently, as English Subject Leader at Wickhambreaux CEPS since 2011. She is a trained and experienced Reading Recovery Teacher as well as being a trained trainer for the Better Reading Partnership and she has successfully established this intervention programme in many primary and secondary schools across Kent.
We are lucky to have Hayley here as a specialist teacher in literacy, as in 2017, she completed a Masters in Education, with a focus upon Literacy and Learning. She is also an accredited Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association which enables her to assess, diagnose and support children with dyslexia.
The learning of literacy is initially rooted in spoken language which, in time, moves on to be related to written sign systems. Therefore at Wickhambreaux CEPS we recognise that all the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society: being keenly aware that pupils who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
(Department for Education, 2013).
Spoken language underpins the successful development of reading and writing, so all Wickhambreaux pupils are assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as others, with a keen focus upon developing their confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. This is achieved by teaching children the understanding of and how to use the variety of tools needed for discussion and debate, along with the integration of role play informally through child initiated play and the wider school environment and also more formally through drama and literature performance and response and for a range of audiences. Alongside these ongoing opportunities, pupils will also meet frequent opportunities to orally communicate across a range of contexts with increasing competence via work in groups of different sizes, ie pairs, small and large groups, whilst receiving support and constructive feedback on how to improve their knowledge and skills and utilise these to further enhance their various means of communication. This will occur not only in English lessons, but across the breadth of the school’s rich curriculum.
Therefore all pupils are being guided towards being able to use discussion to learn by being able to elaborate and clearly explain their understanding and ideas, along with a high competence of effective listening and being able to formulate and convey opinions and ideas. Alongside this, pupils will be using these skills to effectively compose, organise, edit and interrogate meaning and understanding from their wider experiences of written language.
Wickhambreaux CEPS aims to continually build upon and to extend the children’s existing knowledge of literacy and develop their skills and strategies for experimenting, hypothesising and making sense of new experiences and new materials. The teaching of writing is based around the two dimensions of transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in writing). However as writing does of course present the writer’s thoughts on paper, it also develops other key cognitive skills such as, organisation, sequencing, identifying key points, developing a ‘story line’, imagination, grammar/syntax skills and memory. (Gavin Reid; 2009). Therefore we strive to equip all of our pupils with a strong command of all the skills of written language that are essential to allow them to participate fully as successful members of society. By following a consistent and systematic approach to the teaching of spelling and grammar across the school, we focus upon long term learning and the expected application of this knowledge and skills to be incorporated into all areas of the curriculum, not just English exercise books! Whilst doing this, there is always a school-wide emphasis upon the creative nature of writing and how it can be used to nurture a joyful love of self-expression. This is achieved through enabling, presenting and teaching that writing is for a range of purposes and audiences and to formulate, explore and confirm as well as communicate ideas.
In essence, Wickhambreaux CEPS strives to embed in its learners, a love of spoken and written language with an appreciation of its importance in education, culture and the values of both our school and society.