At Skelton School we want children to be inspired to write through nurturing a love of books. We believe in providing a varied diet of high-quality texts that challenge our children to read a variety of authors from different backgrounds and cultures, and in a variety of styles and genres. Once children are fully immersed in their love for a book, we then begin to analyse how the author has used language and engaged us as readers. This includes teaching relevant grammar, punctuation, and spelling as well as technical skills such as sentence structure. We then help children to generate ideas, show them how to plan and provide inspiring and authentic purposes to write. Our ultimate goal is to ensure children are given the best chance to meet or exceed writing expectations through proficiency in key skills, but also develop a love of reading and writing so that they are inspired to want to become the authors, poets, journalists, and playwrights of the future.
At Skelton School we use Literacy Counts resources to ensure a cohesive, consistent and progressive approach which ensures coverage of the national curriculum in the teaching of writing. This approach is based on the following principles:
Each unit follows a common sequence: Immerse, Analyse, Plan and Write. This is based on a tried and tested model (UKLA and Primary National Strategy, 2004 p.7) and acknowledges the strong interrelationship between speaking and listening, reading and writing.
Each unit is based on a high-quality text. This fosters a love of reading first and foremost. This love of books is then used to inspire high-quality writing. This approach is strongly support by research as there is clear evidence that children learn to write from what they read (Barrs and Cork, 2002).
The books we use are challenging and beautifully written, providing important opportunities to teach new vocabulary explicitly (Beck et al, 2002). The illustrations lend themselves to Booktalk (Chambers, 1999) and drama (Heathcote and Bolton, 1994 Taylor, 2016) and also provide rich and engaging opportunities to write for a genuine purpose to a range of audiences which can be highly motivating (EEF, 2020).
We use example texts known as WAGOLLs (What a good one looks like) to model to children what to aim for. Through analysis of language features and how these example texts work, children learn to think like an author and create texts for themselves.
Both the ‘Vehicle Text’ (the book) and ‘Example Text’ (The WAGOLL) provide opportunities to explore and practise ways of controlling grammar for effect. Grammar skills are best learned in the context of purposeful writing (Grammar for Writing DFEE 2000). We include grammar activities that can be augmented by other resources as needed. In this manner, discrete grammar learning is then applied in a meaningful context.
The resources include many opportunities for modelling and helping to shape the voice children can use themselves when they are writing independently (EEF, 2017). This powerful pedagogy is crucial to being an effective teacher of writing.
Sentence accuracy overviews in each unit, ensure teachers have an excellent grasp of the key skills needed for children to reach year group outcomes. In this way teachers have a clear focus in identifying gaps, and adapting their planning and teaching accordingly.
Children are explicitly taught to evaluate their writing using learning ladders and other scaffolds to check work with an increasing independence and accuracy.