Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the quality of children’s writing. As a result of this, we have revised the way we teach writing so that the children are taught in a very structured way. Our aim is to ensure that pupils have all the skills they need, as well as the stamina, to become confident and independent writers.
At Yew Tree Community School, the teaching of writing within the English curriculum has been carefully considered to enable our pupils to become confident and creative writers.
In EYFS, the children are given the opportunity to ‘mark make’ in all areas of the continuous provision using a variety of different materials. During phonics, the children are taught to form their letters correctly and how to write a simple sentence. So that the children are given the opportunity to consolidate and apply their writing skills, they are encouraged to retell familiar stories and write for real-life purposes.
As they progress through school, the children are given the opportunity to study high-quality texts as part of our reading offer. To supplement this, each half term, pupils study a narrative unit and a non-narrative unit and re-visit a previously taught genre to complete a writing assessment.
As we want our children to become outstanding writers, they need to understand what outstanding writing is so that they know what they are working towards. Therefore, every unit is based around a carefully constructed ‘WAGOLL’ (What A Good One Looks Like). The structure of the WAGOLL is the same as what we expect the children to use and it contains all the language features that we want them to include in their own writing.
Each unit is divided into four phases
- Phase 1 - Familiarisation
- Phase 2 – Teaching and rehearsing
- Phase 3 – Application
- Phase 4 – Development of children’s writing
Phase 1- Familiarisation
The first lesson of every unit is a ‘WOW’ activity to engage and immerse the children in the context of the genre. Wherever possible, the unit will link to other subjects being taught in that year group to deepen the children’s understanding of the particular topic.
The WAGOLL is introduced and the teacher will support the children to identify all the language features used. A framework containing all the success criteria for the piece of writing is drawn up and is used as a point of reference for the remainder of the unit. The children are also given the opportunity to explore tier 2 (more sophisticated) and tier 3 (subject-specific) vocabulary so they have the tools to enhance their own writing.
Phase 2 - Teaching and rehearsing
During phase 2 there will be direct teaching of the language features that are the focus of the particular genre. As the children become more confident, they will have the opportunity to apply these skills in a short piece of writing.
Phase 3 - Application
During the application phase, the children are taught the art of writing. Teachers model how to write the identified text section by section, talking through the process, referring back to the plan and explaining how to include the success criteria. The children will then complete the same section. This process is repeated over a series of lessons.
Phase 4 - Development of children’s writing
The children independently plan and write their own version of the same genre but change the context of the writing. This gives the children the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of what has been taught. This piece of writing will contribute to the on-going assessment of the pupils’ work against the year group objectives.
At the end of each half term, the children will re-visit a previously taught genre and complete a piece of writing which will again be assessed against the year group objectives. As the school year moves forward, the gap between the initial teaching and the assessment will increase. The assessed pieces of writing inform the planning for the next unit of work.
During the lesson, pupils’ work will be live-marked by the adults in the room to address any misconceptions. In phases 1 – 3, following the lesson, the books will be marked for accuracy. Errors will be identified and acknowledged using the federation’s marking code. During phase 3, there will be a deep mark to identify the next-steps so that the children can develop their writing even further.
At the start of each lesson from Year 2 upwards, there is a starter activity that is completed by the children in green pen. It could be corrections, consolidation or challenge responding to the teachers’ marking as appropriate. During this part of the lesson in KS2, teachers will be working with a different focus group each day so that children are directly taught the skills they need to move their writing forward. It is expected that the children will be part of the teacher-led focus group at least once a week. In Year 2, there is more flexibility to allow the teacher to support individuals or groups as needed.
The independent piece from phase 4 is assessed against the year group objectives rather than in the children’s books. This information is used to inform the planning for the next unit so that it can be addressed in whole class lessons and teacher-led focus groups.
Long Term Plan - Overview of Writing Units