The Philosophy of Writing at Reigate Priory School:
At Reigate Priory we understand that the acquisition and development of language is an integral part of a child’s education. It is through Writing and Spoken Language that children gain access to the wide and varied curriculum available to them. The skills that children acquire during this time are essential life skills. Our aim is to give children knowledge and understanding of English spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as the abilities necessary to use language confidently and creatively in a wide range of contexts, enabling them to participate fully as a member of society.
Children need to be taught to communicate in writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences, deciding upon appropriate format, tone, style and vocabulary. They learn how to plan, draft, revise, proof-read and present their work. The writing process can enable the child to express emotions and to develop their imagination. Spelling is an important part of the writing process: an ability to spell accurately clarifies communication. We believe that if a child has a wide vocabulary they are able to communicate more effectively.
- Spoken language
Children need to be able to express themselves clearly and confidently in a variety of ways. Voices should be audible, employing grammatical constructions of standard English where appropriate. Children should also be able to listen attentively, enabling them to recall factual information, summarise key points, ask thoughtful questions and synthesize their own ideas. In discussion within a group they should be able to contribute, respond appropriately and develop a dialogue. They should be encouraged to justify their thoughts after hearing other opinions, using these to build their own case. Through dialogue they should develop the ability to use persuasive language in debate.
Subject Leader - Mr O. Morris
Through the teaching and learning of writing at Reigate Priory, we aim to create authors who can:
- Vary sentences for clarity, purpose and effect.
- Write with technical accuracy of syntax and punctuation in phrases, clauses and sentences.
- Organise and present whole texts effectively, sequencing and structuring information, ideas and events.
- Construct paragraphs and use cohesion within and between paragraphs.
- Write imaginative, interesting and thoughtful texts.
- Produce texts which are appropriate to task, reader and purpose
- Select appropriate and effective vocabulary.
- Use correct spelling across their writing.
- Write in a legible style, with accurate and consistent letter formation and joins.
In addition to the above assessment focuses, our primary aim is to create an atmosphere in which writing is viewed as being enjoyable and worthwhile, with staff acting as positive role models throughout the learning journey.
Spoken language skills are transferable through all aspects of the curriculum and are crucial life skills. Our aim is to develop confident children who can:
- Speak clearly, fluently and confidently to different people.
- Adapt to an audience.
- Listen, understand and respond to others.
- Join in as members of a group.
- Perform and participate in a range of drama activities.
Curriculum Planning, Learning and Teaching
At Reigate Priory School, in each year group, writing is taught in both standalone English lessons and in cross-curricular opportunities during foundation subject lessons. Intervention programmes are used for children identified as not being on target. Every learner has their own Author’s Notebook which is used to record ideas and toolkits. Focus groups also take place within lessons; these groups are fluid and generated by the class teacher’s use of formative assessment.
Genres in each year group are linked to topic learning where possible in order to give writing a ‘real-life’ purpose and to cultivate an appreciation and enjoyment of the writing process. Genres are repeated to enable progression across the Key Stage. Across the school, planning follows the ‘Imitation, Innovation, Independent Application’ model. We believe this gives our learners the best opportunities to create their own good-quality texts and offers significant opportunities to model high-quality texts throughout the process.
Children should be aware of their next steps through peer and self-editing in line with success checkers and staff verbal and written feedback.
Children are taught using the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling programme. The focus of the programme is on the teaching of spelling, which embraces knowledge of spelling conventions – patterns and rules; integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exceptions and personal spellings.
The programme includes the requirements of the National Curriculum, which have been organised into strands and then broken down into termly overviews. The termly overviews are mapped across weeks as half-termly plans. These follow a model of five spelling sessions across two weeks. Teaching follows a revisit, teach, practise, apply and assess sequence. Each lesson is approximately 10-15 minutes long, but lesson plans are flexible so that the teaching can reflect the extra time needed on a teaching point if required.
Pupils’ learning is assessed throughout the programme to identify if pupils have learnt the key concept taught. Learning needs to happen in school and at home, therefore spellings are sent home to learn as part of each spelling model.
As spelling is taught in English, the class teacher is able to refer to the spelling pattern during every writing opportunity, ensuring children have plenty of opportunities to embed their learning and to regularly apply this in context.
It is important that the writing process is not hindered by a child’s lack of confidence at spelling, therefore, our learners know to put a wiggly like underneath any word that they are unsure of. At a later point in the lesson, they will have the opportunity to use a dictionary to find the correct spellings of underlined words.
Children are taught from the progressive Nelson Handwriting Scheme. Focused intervention groups are set up for identified children and evaluated termly.
Children who need extra help use equipment from the Special Needs Room. They use sand trays, white boards, making letter shapes on the table or in the air to help reinforce the pattern. Triangular pencils and pencil grips are aids to help the children hold the pencil correctly. Berol pens are given to the children as an incentive, when they have achieved, neat, joined, cursive handwriting.
In Years 5 and 6, every child is expected to write with a blue handwriting pen. Focused intervention groups are set up for identified children and evaluated termly.
Children need frequent opportunities across the curriculum to present their thinking, ideas and learning to a partner or small group. Rules for class discussion should be devised by the class and teacher to develop respect for each individual; everyone should have the opportunity to share in discussion and have a role to play. Regular circle time is a useful forum for developing the individual’s speaking and listening skills, whilst encouraging self-expression and valuing of each person’s point of view. Speaking and listening skills are developed in all areas of the curriculum through activities such as ‘hot-seating’, discussion, debate, presentation, reading aloud and role-play.
We see speaking as an extremely valuable tool for writing; ‘If a child cannot tell a story, how will they be able to write a story?’ Therefore, we ensure that each child benefits from a range of speaking opportunities during the teaching and learning of each unit and by following the ‘Talk for Writing’ structure in our planning and teaching.
Assessment and Monitoring:
Teachers assess children’s writing daily in their lessons through Assessment For Learning, in the form of self and peer assessment. The formal recording of learners’ progress takes place on Target Tracker. This is referred to throughout the year as an ongoing assessment tool.
At the end of each term, each class teacher will make an assessment based on a collection of each child’s work, which will be followed by whole school moderation. This information is stored on the school’s Target Tracker system, which teachers will use to analyse the progress of their pupils and respond accordingly.
Children in Years 3-5 are tested termly using NFER tests and past SATs papers in Year 6. (Alternative diagnostic tests may be used by the SEN staff). This data is recorded and stored centrally on the network for monitoring.
Ongoing teacher assessment during the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling programme and in the assessment and monitoring of writing, further monitors progress.
Numerical data is especially useful in highlighting children who are not making the expected progress with subsequent targeting in focus and intervention groups. Some children are proficient writers yet may not be good spellers; they may have a specific spelling difficulty, needing opportunities for revision and reinforcement.