Writing within primary school is a vital part of the curriculum as they will use writing in almost all of their subjects of the curriculum and it gives children a voice to share their ideas with the world. Considering the fundamental importance of writing in everyday life, we are driven by the need to develop each learner’s writing ability, thus enabling them to play a full part in society.
At Seven Hills our writing process is called IMPROVE write which is done over a weekly to fortnightly period. The structure of this begins with a phonics or grammar focus that can be applied to their writing (this includes learning the correct terminology), then the children investigate the type of text they are going to be writing, after that the children then look at the class novel which their writing is based around picking out key vocabulary. After this initial preparation children then move on to writing a plan, drafting their work and editing it. Then it is written up, in neat, in their IMPROVE books.
During their time in EYFS children begin with mark making and then ascribing meaning to these marks, then children will start to learn how to form letters correctly. They will be encouraged to use their knowledge of phonics to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. This continues to develop in Reception when they are starting to use some talk for writing strategies to help them write lists and sentences around their class novels.
In Year 1, children will be taught to write sentences by saying out loud what they are going to write about, put several sentences together and re-read their writing to check it makes sense. This will be done in their narrative work based on their class novels and through recounts. They will also be expected to discuss what they have written and to read it aloud.
In Year 2, children learn to write for a range of purposes, including stories based on their class novels, instructions, non-chronological reports and poetry. Children are encouraged to plan what they are going to write and to read through their writing to make corrections and improvements.
In Years 3 and 4, children are encouraged to draft and write by talking about their writing. They will continue to learn how to organise paragraphs and, if they are writing non-fiction texts, to use headings. When they are writing stories, they will learn to use settings, characters and plots. Children in Years 3 and 4 will be expected to use what they know about grammar in their writing and to read through what they have written, to find ways to improve it. In Years 3 and 4, they continue to base their writing on their class novels. In Year 3, they have adventure stories, legends and stories with dilemmas. In non-fiction they will extend their learning around non-chronological reports. In Year 4, their stories are historical, fantasy and science-fiction based. Their non-fiction text types are explanation and persuasion texts.
In Years 5 and 6, children will continue to develop their skills in planning, drafting and reviewing what they have written. Children learn to identify the audience and purpose of their writing. They will be expected to use grammar appropriately. In non-fiction writing, children will use headings, bullet points and other ways to organise their writing. They will be expected to describe settings, characters and to use dialogue in their stories. In Year 5, their class novels are based on myths and legends, play scripts and stories told from a different point of view. Their non-fiction text types are developing their learning about recounts, non-chronological comparative reports and persuasions.
In Year 6, their class novels are mystery and classic stories. Their non-fiction text types are journalistic writing and discussion balanced arguments.
From their study of writing at Seven Hills, children will acquire a life-long knowledge and understanding of writing (deep learning). Over time, children will learn greater depth (mastery) skills to make them proficient writers, these include;
• reading with a writer’s eye, noticing the effects a writer creates
• mastering handwriting and spelling
• internalising the different stages of the writing process (planning, drafting and editing and proof reading their work)
• writing with a reader’s eye, constantly re-reading work to check that it makes sense and that the message is effectively conveyed
• knowing how different sorts of texts are structured, so that, over time, they can create their own structures appropriate to audience and purpose
• having a feeling for grammar, varying and controlling sentence structure with ease, in order to create different language effects
• being capable of writing at length while maintaining a sense of audience, purpose and organisation.
Spellings at Seven Hills Primary plays a crucial role in our school life. It is a skill that is required in every subject area to support with aspects such as communication and comprehension, whether this be through discussion or a written piece. We believe that if children are confidently communicating and understanding their learning, this will lead to a more focused, happier child who will: love language; write their ideas quickly and fluently; and will be more adventurous with the words they use to express themselves. Overall, spelling is a fundamental skill that will allow our children to achieve their very best and will leave our school with the necessary skills to succeed in the future.
Phonics in Early Years and Year 1
During their time in nursery (FS1), children begin to recognise initial letter sounds. They will be taught forty words that they learn to sound and blend, which include tricky words that they need to learn from sight. Our aim is that our nursery children move to reception (FS2) with confidence in phase 2 phonics. In reception, children will continue to revise and consolidate sounds that they have learnt in phase 2 phonics before they are taught phase 3 and 4 phonics. In addition to this, they are introduced to more tricky words and are introduced to technical vocabulary to help them learn with writing spellings, for example, digraph.
Moving into Year 1, our children will become more confident at recognising sounds that they have previously learnt in foundation stage. They will begin to learn phonics in phase 5 and it is our aim that they will be confident in all phases of phonics before they complete the phonics screening test at the end of Year 1.
Whole School Spellings
From Year 1 through to Year 6, children will learn spellings through our whole school spellings scheme. This consists of children being taught a new spelling pattern each week, where they will acquire new skills through encouraging teaching, exciting resources, repetition and testing. Our spellings scheme incorporates the spellings from each year group’s spellings list, where the spellings can be learnt through a pattern rather than stand alone.
Building on their acquisition of skills learnt in the foundation stage, children in Year 1 will use their phonics skills to spell unfamiliar words as well as common and tricky words too. They will also start using prefixes and suffixes. Progressing into Year 2, children will continue to use their phonic skills, as well as what they know about word structures more generally, when reading and spelling unfamiliar, common and tricky words. From deepening these skills, children in this year group should now be able to recognise by sight, read and spell many of the common and tricky words, such as because. In Year 2, children will start to learn about contractions, such as it’s and possessive apostrophes. They will also be able to start making longer words by adding suffixes.
As children progress into Years 3 and 4, they will continue to use their acquisition of skills learnt in phonics to tackle new or unknown words but they will also be gaining knowledge about new spelling patterns and rules too, so that they have a wider range of tools to use when they get stuck. During this phase, children will explore homophones, such as except and accept and will learn to use the first two or three letters of a word to check its spelling in a dictionary. By the time children reach Years 5 and 6, they should be able to read and spell unfamiliar and common words using what they know about phonics and how words are structured. They will be expected to spell some words with ‘silent’ letters, such as knight, and will use their knowledge of morphology (the study of words, how they are formed and their relationship with other words) and etymology (the history of words: where they originated from and how they have changed over time) when spelling words. By the end of Year 6, children will be confidently spelling a variety of words. They will understand and meet the challenging spelling demands outlined in the National Curriculum. The knowledge they have gained since the beginning of school will be assessed through a grammar, punctuation and spelling test that they will complete during the month of May as part of a week of national tests.