Writing at Alanbrooke
At Alanbrooke Academy, we intend for our children to leave as confident, capable and independent writers, who not only understand the purpose and importance of writing, but also foster a love and curiosity of writing. Our curriculum cultivates a sense of independence in writing, whilst being inclusive and enriching. We intend for children to use their writing skills across the curriculum by planning meaningful writing opportunities in all lessons.
We want our children to draw upon a rich exposure to quality literature so that throughout the writing process, they can write as a reader and read as a writer. We intend for our children to be able to communicate and express themselves effectively for a variety of purposes and audiences.
Alanbrooke Academy recognises the importance of children acquiring a wide vocabulary. In order for all learners to share ideas, develop vocabulary and to internalise language patterns, we follow a well-structured, progressive approach that includes a variety of speaking and listening activities, so that they can draw upon an extensive linguistic repertoire when writing.
We also want all of our children to be able to spell new words by effectively applying spelling patterns and rules. They will have a solid understanding of grammar and apply it effectively to their writing.
We believe that all children should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing by developing a legible, cursive, handwriting style in preparation for their move to secondary school. Ultimately, we aim for all children to reach their full potential in writing.
Children’s English development in Reception gives them the opportunity to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves and to speak and listen in a variety of situations. They also begin to learn how to read and write using our chosen phonics scheme, Essential Letter and Sounds (ELS). By the end of Reception most children will be able to ‘sound out’ words phonetically, and to write simple sentences. Adult modelling is key to children segmenting words accurately and forming letters correctly. They are given opportunities to practice writing in a rich and stimulating environment, where they will write for a range of different purposes and audiences.
Key Stage 1 and 2
Highly effective English planning starts with a clear outcome for the end of the unit of work e.g. a letter to persuade, an information text on a polar bear. It is essential that pupils receive a balance of fiction, non-fiction and poetry across the year. These outcomes link purposefully to the wider curriculum where appropriate to ensure that learning is in a context and that there are opportunities for quality cross-curricular writing. Quality texts are carefully selected/created to exemplify the essential elements of ‘what a good one looks like’ (WAGOLL).
The planning circles approach allows the teacher to clearly see the outcome of the unit of work. Planning begins with the familiarisation with a text type (Phase 1), capturing ideas for their own writing (Phase 2) followed by scaffolded writing experiences (Phase 3). This will then lead to independent writing opportunities. The teaching of each phase may take up to a week and the entire unit may take three weeks. This timing is flexible depending on the expected outcome.
Modelled writing centres on teacher demonstration of the thoughts, actions and processes that create text. It is an opportunity for pupils to observe a proficient writer going through the process of putting ideas into a written form.
In modelled writing, teachers focus on authorial elements of writing (such as sequencing and linking ideas, choosing appropriate words, etc.) or secretarial elements (employing spelling strategies, using correct punctuation, etc.). The pupils do not offer their ideas in modelled writing. Instead, it is anticipated they will use the strategies modelled in their own independent writing. Modelled writing can be employed as a whole class or small group strategy. Shared writing/joint composition is where the pupils begin to take control, with the teacher scribing their ideas. There is a shift from the teacher as a model towards the pupils doing more of the thinking, composing, explaining and working as writers.
The teacher will still remind, prompt and challenge so that the writing remains focused on the objective and key linguistic features of the genre. The teacher constantly balance the focus between pushing children to ‘generate’ ideas and then ‘judge’ what works best – pausing to reread and listen to the flow of composition so that the next sentence can be composed.