At Manor Court Community Primary School, we seek to ensure that children are supported to be efficient and confident writers. Acquiring the skills to write is one of the most important things that a child at primary school will learn. We encounter writing everyday of our lives as it is the frame work of our communication. Words can take a bounty of forms within writing. Children use their writing in almost all other subjects of the curriculum. Good writing also gives children a voice to share their ideas with the world.
During daily English lessons, the teaching of writing encompasses two dimensions:
It is essential that teaching at Manor Court Primary School develops pupils’ competence in both of these areas. Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
For a child, learning to write can be a tricky business, not least because good writing involves handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation not to mention what we want to write and who we are writing for. In the Foundation Stage, 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. As pupils progress through Key Stage 1, they will learn to write for a range of purposes, including stories, information texts and poetry. They will begin to re-read their writing to check it makes sense. They will also be expected to discuss what they have written and to read it aloud. Across Key Stage 2, children will continue to develop their skills in planning, drafting and reviewing what they have written. Children will learn to identify the audience for and purpose of their writing. They will be expected to use grammar appropriately.
Spelling is taught daily. It takes shape as a discrete lesson alone, a focussed 5-a-day challenge time, and during the application at all times when writing. At Manor Court Primary School, we want our pupils to be able to apply their phonics accurately by using sounds to construct words. We want our pupils to know and understand spelling rules as a progression through KS1 to KS2. Our children are equipped with the knowledge that a word is misspelt, and have the courage to correct it. We want our pupils to be able to use a dictionary, and each pupil from Year 1 to Year 6 has their own personal one purchased for them. We want our pupils to know that spelling is important in world-wide contexts.
The skill of handwriting is taught at Manor Court Primary. It is not a natural skill that will grow and develop like speaking or walking. Handwriting is a motor activity. A movement stored in the body rather than in the conscious memory. Handwriting in the Early Years Centre and Foundation Stage begins with a strong focus on physical development to build muscle strength in the hands. Handwriting is taught through a mix of play and adult led activities, where letters are recorded in books. Effective handwriting should be neat, legible and fast. Pupils should eventually develop the ability to produce letters without thinking. Pupils’ own style of handwriting is encouraged once a secure cursive script has been established.
All pupils are assessed at appropriate intervals (half termly) as they progress. Foundation Stage pupils are tracked using a phonic tracker, and also on the amount of sight words they can read and write. Pupils in Year 1 – 6 take Rising Stars assessments for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. Year 2 and 6 are prepared for the SATS with mock papers.
Every child has an individual Interim Framework Writing assessment, which is completed at a minimum of once every half term. An independent piece of extended writing from each child is assessed against key writing objectives. Alongside writing moderations within school, writing is also moderated within the Preston Academy Trust and at local primary cluster meetings. Outside of English lessons, there are numerous opportunities for pupils to apply their writing skills, across all areas of the curriculum, and these pieces may be used for assessment too.
Regular monitoring of the assessment outcomes allows teachers and practitioners to ensure that all children are making expected progress. This information is also used to identify children who are not making expected progress and therefore early intervention can be put in place.
Children’s writing assessments are added to a tracker and monitored by the English Lead teacher, Phase Leaders and Senior Leadership team.
Through careful monitoring and tracking practitioners are able to identify children who are not making the expected progress and therefore need intervention to catch up. Depending on the needs of individuals, this may include specific phonic and spelling support, handwriting support and additional individual or small group tutoring. It is important that children who are struggling to learn to write not only need to catch up with their peers, but also to continue to make progress.
Our aim at Manor Court Community Primary School is that every child’s needs are catered for and every child is given the chance to succeed and become a competent writer. It is our aim to give every child the opportunity to experience success in learning and to be the best that they can be. Differentiated work, appropriate to individual children’s needs, is provided in the independent work during the day and also during intervention sessions. S.E.N.D pupils have Learning Passports, APDR documents and IEPs, which may include specific literacy targets.