Writing is a crucial part of our curriculum at Holy Innocents’. By the end of Year Six we intend our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. We also intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. At Holy Innocents’ we set high expectations for all our children to take pride in their work and have a fluent, cursive handwriting style alongside allowing their imaginations to flourish.
We are currently embarking on an exciting journey as we are implementing Talk For Writing across the school. Talk For Writing, developed by Pie Corbett and supported by Julia Strong, is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style.
At Holy Innocents’ we place a large emphasis on the speaking and listening skills of our pupils. We believe that through hearing many stories read aloud and by acting them out independently, our children will have the chance to grow as story tellers with vivid imaginations. In Reception, children will spend lots of time orally retelling stories and learning how to read aloud expressively through learning stories with actions. Teachers will also draw story maps in line with the principles of Talk For Writing which allow children to independently access story-telling throughout the day. Over time, children will be encouraged to move from mark-making to using the skills they have learnt through Talk For Writing to write their own stories independently. To prepare them for Year 1, Reception children will enjoy discovering a variety of texts such as journey tales and recounts which can enable their imaginations to flourish.
KS1 and KS2
As children progress through school, teachers will continually build on the knowledge and skills that children gain through accessing Talk For Writing. Throughout the school year, children will be exposed to a variety of genres of writing and will follow the Talk For Writing sequence of learning to help establish them as competent writers. We believe that through access to rich texts and dialogic experiences in class, our children will be enabled to become fluent and careful writers. Our curriculum is structured so that all classes from Year 1 – Year 6 are following the same writing (fiction) genre and focus so that students are able to engage in discussions across year groups and teachers can assess writing progression throughout the school. Once the Talk For Writing process has become more embedded within our school, our children will leave Year 6 with key skills such as: retelling a story with expression, using a variety of planning tools to structure their work, being able to critically analyse a text as a reader and a writer and, ultimately, being able to plan, draft and edit multiple pieces of writing from different genres.
At Holy Innocents’, we believe it is important that children learn how to write for different purposes and we aim for children to apply their learning from English lessons into different subject areas. There is a huge focus within every year group to push for cross-curricular writing and our journey into Talk For Writing has assisted with this. During learning on non-fiction units especially, children will have the chance to apply their learning of key features and writing styles into the foundation subjects to really show what they have learnt. It is crucial that Holy Innocents’ children leave our school with the knowledge that extended writing can take place in multiple subject areas and for a variety of purposes and we believe that our curriculum can allow them to do this.
It is important to reflect on the progress of writing throughout the school and to compare writing assessment with other teachers. As a one-form entry school, we ensure that writing assessments are moderated throughout the year by working with other schools within the Umbrella Academy Trust. This means that writing is scrutinised in detail and teachers’ assessments are explored to assure the best progress for our children.
Fortunately, the Talk For Writing process allows for continuous formative and summative assessment of writing throughout the year. Each unit of work begins with a ‘cold task’ which is where the children are asked to show their teachers what they already know about a particular style of writing without teacher support. From this, teachers are able to set individual targets for every child which they should be able to achieve by the end of their Talk For Writing unit. To assess progress, each child will produce a ‘hot task’ at the end of their units which can be compared to their cold tasks. Children are then encouraged to reflect on their progress and celebrate their achievements in writing.
By the time pupils leave Holy Innocents’, we aim for every child to become confident at writing at length for different purposes and, most importantly, to have developed a clear love and enthusiasm for writing. We hope that by embedding Talk For Writing across our school, we will have equipped our children with tools for writing by exposing them to a multitude of different texts and genres of writing. They will gain a wide vocabulary which impacts on the written word; they will learn to accurately adapt their writing styles for different purposes, and they will be able to write clearly and in a sophisticated manner. We also aim to develop confident and reflective writers who, with their teachers, can celebrate their own successes. Most importantly, we hope children will become inspired writers who apply their knowledge outside of the curriculum and use their writing talents in later life.