At Woodland, we view the acquisition of writing skills to be of the utmost importance and so the teaching of all aspects of English is given key priority. We believe that developing writing skills is one of the core purposes of primary education: literacy skills empower individuals to unlock their potential as independent lifelong learners.
When pupils enjoy what they are writing about, they write more and they write with increased skill and enthusiasm to succeed. We link our text-based writing curriculum, as much as possible, to our bespoke enquiry based curriculum to provide our children with language rich, relevant and focused writing opportunities. Writing is integral to our children’s whole language experience. When pupils have a clear sense of a real world audience that lies beyond the classroom, their writing is focused and they approach the task with a heightened sense of purpose. The audience might consist of parents, local government, visitors to the public library or perhaps visitors to the school website. At Woodland, we believe that writing should be both inspiring yet challenging and enable our pupils to become motivated and adept writers in a range of situations.
How is writing taught at Woodland?
Within English, writing opportunities are varied and frequent throughout a sequence of learning. Writing opportunities always stem from the core text to challenge, enthuse and engage children. Across the wider curriculum, writing is applied in other subject areas to provide meaningful writing experiences through contexts and to enhance learning. There is planned progression in the teaching of writing, including exploring features, planning, drafting, assessing and editing through the familiarisation of the text type, the identification of structure and language features, modelled writing, shared writing, supported composition, guided writing and independent writing.
Green Pen Marking
We started the Autumn term by providing all of the children with a green pen with which to respond to the teachers' marking. The children have produced some fabulous writing this term and are being taught how to make improvements to their writing. At least once every two weeks the children are expected to produce a lengthier piece of writing based upon the book they have been studying. The teacher provides very detailed feedback to this and the children then use their green pens to edit, improve and annotate their work. The children love their green pen marking and we have seen some fabulous work produced this half term using the system!
Presentation is a priority at Woodland and we are committed to providing the children with the skills necessary to write their work fluently, legibly and eventually with good pace. We expect the children to use a cursive handwriting style, which they start to learn in EYFS. We establish high expectations and pride in everything we do – both of ourselves and of the children and we have a taught handwriting session per week where the children develop their skills to be able to do this. Children of all abilities are expected and able to present their work to their highest possible standard increasing their confidence and self-esteem.
Talk for Writing
Talk for Writing is an approach which supports children to explore, through talk, the thinking and creative processes involved in being a writer. It is embedded at an early age at Woodland, with our KS1 children successfully using it to improve their writing. Talk for Writing is an approach that goes beyond the development of children’s general spoken language skills – it allows children to explore the processes involved in being a writer, and extends oral rehearsal so that it becomes a draft for their written pieces. The approach supports the move from talk into writing and is hugely enjoyable for the children.
Woodland Primary has a clear, consistent, whole school approach to reading. Competence in reading is the key to lifelong learning and is given the highest priority, enabling the children to become enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers. Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in all other areas of the Curriculum and is crucial in developing children’s self-confidence and motivation.
At Woodland we teach reading through a blend of Focussed Phonics Sessions, Group Guided Reading, Individual Reading, Shared Reading across the curriculum and opportunities to read for pleasure.
Whole class guided reading is taught daily in years 2 through to year 6. In EYFS and year 1, the differentiated teaching of reading is delivered through group guided reading sessions, which prioritise the application of phonics as the prime approach to reading. Word recognition skills are developed alongside language comprehension skills, to ensure children acquire a balance of reading skills to enable them to decode and understand a wide range of texts.
In whole class guided reading sessions, a 4-step approach to teaching and learning is used.
Step 1 – Vocabulary focus
Teaching in step 1 focuses on a selection of key vocabulary from the focus text. Different approaches are used to develop an understanding of the key vocabulary. This step supports all children in accessing the text, develops pupil’s comprehension, enables children to read for meaning and broadens children’s vocabulary.
Step 2 – Skill focus
In step 2, the key reading skill for the teaching sequence is taught discreetly. Reading of the text and application of the key skill is modelled by the teacher. Children will have opportunities to practise the skill.
Step 3 – Application of skill
During step 3, children have opportunities for independent and paired reading. There are differentiated opportunities to apply the focus skill and question stems are used to support application.
Step 4 – Deepening understanding
Throughout step 4, children will have opportunities to apply the key skill in different contexts and across different genres. Questions are presented in different formats so as to ensure secure understanding of the key skill taught.
Guided Reading is a daily session which all children have access to throughout our school. These sessions are opportunities to teach and practise the full range of reading strategies including phonic and grammatical knowledge, word recognition, graphic and contextual knowledge, that children need to become happy, confident and great readers! Children and adults will discuss books with reference to author, illustrator, genre, theme and characters, and express personal responses with increasing fluency. Adults ask differentiated questions and use these to help to track children’s progress.
From Reception individual reading is also part of our weekly reading provision. Oxford Reading Tree is our core scheme, offering children the opportunity to engage with the cumulative nature of a Reading Scheme. These are supplemented with phonics books (if they are still working at Phase 1 – 6 of Letters and Sounds) and ‘real books’ that provide a wider breadth of genres.
We also operate the one-to-one intervention Better Reading Partnership, which we use to accelerate progress in reading.