How we teach Writing
Subject Lead: Carly Wilkinson
At Twyford St Mary’s we work hard to help our children to become authors with a real love for writing. We encourage them to think carefully about the WHY in writing as well as the HOW. Whilst learning specific skills for both composition and transcription elements of writing is extremely important, we also strive to help the children to become confident in understanding and vocalizing why we use these skills to achieve an intended purpose.
From Year 2 onwards, we use visual writing journeys with an overall purpose for writing, with a constant reference to the effect we want to have on our reader. This approach helps our children to become empowered to feel like they are the authors of their writing and also helps them to understand why it is that they need to learn skills like relative clauses and direct speech!
We have four key writing drivers across the school (literary heritage, purpose-driven outcomes, diversity, and cross-curricular) which help to inform planning and the choices of texts we use to inspire the children to write their best outcomes possible.
With this idea of creating ‘authors,’ we also put a lot of focus from an early age into proofreading and editing. We always support our pupils to understand that a piece of writing is a journey and will need reshaping along the way so it can have as much impact as possible. At Twyford St Mary’s, finding errors through proof-reading and making changes in editing does not equate to being wrong; rather it is an essential part of being a proactive author who wants to make the best impression possible on their reader, whether this is keeping them on the edge of their seat with a tension-filled narrative, or helping them to learn in an interesting way by informing them like an expert.
We appreciate that spellings are an integral part of the transcription element of the writing process and therefore have created a personalised school spellings assessment to help support high-quality teaching and learning in this area.
The Twyford St Mary’s assessment approach works in two ways. Firstly it works diagnostically to help teachers to formatively assess pupils across the year, identifying strengths and gaps and informing the planning of lessons and interventions so that these are as robust and impactful as possible. Secondly, this assessment can be used as a summative assessment which lends itself to allowing us to track the attainment of SEND writers (or writers for whom spelling is a specific transcriptional difficulty) at a more nuanced level. Whilst these spellers may not be at year group-related expectations, it allows us to measure the steps of progress that are being made towards achieving this standard and to personalise the subsequent steps for learning as necessary to support them to achieve their very best outcomes in this area.
The Twyford St Mary’s Writing expert:
- Is inspired to write for pleasure
- Is focused on presentation and takes pride in their work
- Can share their purpose for writing and show how our skills help us achieve this
- Is able to proof-read and edit independently
- Recognises that their work doesn’t need to be perfect the first time
- Can draw inspiration and learning from their reading
Our approach to Writing for SEND learners
Quality First Teaching is our primary way of supporting pupils with SEND across the school at Twyford St Mary’s, but we also provide extra provision – such as targeted intervention groups and practical resources – to support all of our children to achieve their very best in writing. At Twyford St Mary’s we believe an individualised approach is of the utmost importance and it is essential to highlight children’s strengths alongside supporting them with things they find difficult. Teachers use a range of tools to support all children as they develop their writing skills – such as the ‘Help I can’t write my sentence!’ diagnostic – with specific approaches being helpful for children with SEND – such as taking away barriers to writing through scribing strategies or supporting working memory through tools like talk tins. Giving children with SEND the tools they need to help them to feel successful is the key to helping them to unlock their potential and make amazing progress in their learning.
Some key terms
- Composition – Taught devices used to have an impact on the reader (e.g. using similes to describe, and relative clauses for extra detail).
- Transcription – Elements like spellings, grammar, handwriting, and punctuation.
- Proof-reading – Checking work back for precise spellings, grammar, and punctuation (more transcription-focused)
- Editing – Making changes and adjustments to written work (this could include taking whole sentences out or adding whole sections in) to better achieve the intended purpose (more composition-focused).
- Nessy – Selected pupils at TSM use the Nessy Reading and Spellings programme to follow an individualised online learning path to support the provision already being received in taught writing, phonics, and spelling sessions.