At Bassingbourn Primary School our ambition is that every child will leave our school able to write and with the skills required to create a range of texts. We aim to create a love of writing in all pupils, regardless of their background, needs, interests or abilities.
Writing is taught in a structured progressive way across the school underpinned by ten key principles:
1. Understand the role reading plays in developing writers and the value of being immersed in quality literature.
A well-chosen text provides rich language models and structures from which children can learn how writing works and the effect it can have on a reader. If you want confident young writers, read aloud and share high quality texts across a range of genres, reflecting a range of writing styles. Choose texts that are rich in vocabulary, and enable children to comprehend beyond their own reading fluency level. Create a rich reading environment that demonstrates the written word in all its forms and shares how writing can be used for thinking, for communication and as a means of expression. With a rich diet of quality texts and enriching experiences children will be able to find their own reasons to write and develop a style that fits the purpose, audience and form intended.
2. Ensure children have experience of a breadth of texts including those that are visual and digital.
Children draw on their experience of reading when shaping their own writing. When children have explored a range of texts across genres, they form an understanding and appreciation of how language functions and how best to use this when writing themselves. We share rich examples of writing, both on and off the page. We include texts that allow children to absorb the rhythms and patterns of language, reflecting the cultural, social and linguistic diversity of the children, as well as introducing a world beyond the familiar. Hearing the written word is extremely important but we also want to ensure that children can understand how meaning is conveyed in other forms such as film, illustration, digital texts and performance. When exposed to a range of texts that demonstrate expressive, informational and imaginative writing, children begin to understand how to control and manipulate the conventions of writing for a range of purposes throughout a variety of forms across narrative, non-fiction and poetry.
3. Provide a range of meaningful opportunities to write for real purposes and audiences and to respond to writing as a reader.
From the earliest stages, it is important that children understand that writing is a means of expression and a communication tool. We know a culture of book talk deepens reader response and allows children to explore the effect that the author of a text has created on the reader. We give children opportunities to reflect on their own texts in the same way. The teaching of writing is effective when children see the use in it; when there is real, authentic purpose; when there is an audience that authenticates their voice, whether themselves or another reader. We create opportunities for writing inspired by meaningful events and experiences in texts and real life. This provides the children with ways in to talking and writing about their own feelings, experiences and interests and, with purpose in mind, begin to think about their audience and adapt their tone accordingly. Children take pleasure in a reader’s feedback and begin to link writing with communication. Teachers validate children’s writing with appropriate response, focusing first on the effect that the writing has on the reader.
4. Develop an understanding of the craft of writing by engaging with professional authors and their processes.
Having the opportunity to see and learn from a professional writer’s practice is aspirational for children as writers and helps them to see the process of writing from a new and exciting perspective. Real life writers can bring a greater depth to learning about authentic writing processes. Teachers who engage with authors, and understand the editor’s role are better able to appreciate the value of slowing writing down for children, allowing them time to plan and craft ideas, set the scene, create characters and formulate plotlines; revising and reviewing ideas along the way after response from others. We model planning, drafting, responding, revising and editing process in shared and collaborative writing to demonstrate how to strengthen all parts of the writing. We start with response to structure and impact on the reader and later polish with proofreading and editing before producing a published piece, fit for the intended purpose and audience. We know that poets, illustrators and filmmakers can share how meaning comes through pictures and sound as well as words. Journalists can share how a real news story occurs and develops and is shaped for print or media.
5. Understand and model the processes of writing authentically.
We model writing ‘live’, sharing the frustrations and successes involved. We engage in cooperative writing that includes the teacher as writer and allows children to be supported to develop their ideas, skills and writing style within the security of a large group and maintain momentum for writing. We learn empathy with pupils, give them more space when they are writing and respond more sensitively and deeply to their own efforts. BCPS models writing everywhere; linked to all areas of learning and throughout provision. We show children and parents it is inherent in daily activity. Staff demonstrate the act of writing but, crucially, write alongside children, articulating the thought process we are going through and strategies we draw on to articulate ideas and ways to overcome difficulties faced. Children benefit enormously from a teacher that writes, a writer that teaches. We demonstrate to children how to craft texts with the reader in mind and how to reflect critically on their own writing. They will, in turn, see how to manipulate and control writing to achieve intent as a writer for purpose and effect on the reader.
6. Support children to identify as writers and develop their own authentic voice.
Learning to write is a complex process and it is every child’s entitlement. Taking possession of the written word can open up a world in which children can cultivate identity, an understanding of the world and their place in it in relation to others. To engage children in writing, they have to want to write, see the purpose in doing so and the opportunities it gives for them to have a voice. We make writing a part of daily life, linked to play, fictional and real experiences. We aim to provide authentic contexts for writing that are meaningful to the children and demand their active and critical engagement with the process. A lost toy can provide the basis for a written campaign to find it or a story about the adventures it went on whilst away; an issue or dilemma faced by a character in a text allows children to write in response, offering advice. Poetry is a wonderful medium to provide children with a reason to write to reflect on or capture experiences, share feelings, or use humour to engage a reader. Through purposeful opportunities and reasons to write, children are able to develop authentic personal voice, style, stamina and range as a writer. They enjoy writing expressively, imaginatively and informatively for purpose – they will become authors.
7. Give children time and space to develop their own writing ideas.
We provide structured writing opportunities allows children to understand how the writing process works, but also allow children to use and apply their learning by giving them time and space to write freely for their own purpose and pleasure. In the Early Years, children engage in writing or mark making activities for their own satisfaction, generally without an intended audience. As writing develops, children may write purely for themselves, before becoming more confident to write for others. Provide well stocked writing areas with a wide range of materials and media for writing, including appropriate technology to engage in wider forms of writing. Writing projects such as a class magazine or newsletter may allow children to see writing differently and help to improve confidence and motivation to write. When children are given time and space to use writing as a tool for thinking, and opportunities to share ideas and preferences, they take ownership over their choices and develop the confidence to play around with language features, writing conventions and form.
8. Use creative teaching approaches that build imagination and give time for oral rehearsal.
Supporting children to tune into the creativity needed for writing through a range of experiences is key to developing imagination and ideas for writing in all forms. We encourage children to explore ideas prior to composition through art, drama and role-play, music and movement and small world play, providing opportunities to write independently to develop these ideas into extended pieces. When drawing on a text to stimulate writing, we pause at pivotal moments as the story unfolds to allow children to express and discuss their initial responses. This type of book talk enables children to deepen their understanding of characters and events and supports them to articulate ideas effectively in their own writing. Before writing poetry, we allow children to hear it read aloud, hear and see it performed, and perform it themselves. We aim to allow time and space for drama, explore real and fictional situations through talk or role-play, support children to see events from a different viewpoint and write in an authentic voice. In role, children can often access feelings and language that are not available to them when they write as themselves. Developing ideas through art and illustration is also important.
9. Ensure the teaching of phonics, grammar and spelling is embedded in context.
We know that children who explore and hear a range of high quality texts read aloud and have opportunity for critical discussion are better able to reflect on effects on the reader created by the writer. Reading authentic texts aloud will help children to hear the patterns and types of language used for different forms and purposes and understand levels of formality appropriate to the intended audience. This teaches them much about the language and grammar structures appropriate for different audiences, purposes and forms of writing. We aim to create a language rich environment, focusing on enriching vocabulary, understanding what words mean and how and why they are used and ways language is used effectively for impact on a reader. Children who appreciate first-hand the impact of authorial choices on them as a reader, demonstrate a more assured use of grammatical structure themselves. Teachers provide rich models for talk and writing, both through texts and as language users and writers themselves. Provide a curriculum rich in rhyme, song and poetry to foster children’s phonological development and use shared reading and writing sessions to draw children’s attention to the letters, sounds and spelling patterns within words.
10. Celebrate writing through authentic publication and presentation across platforms.
Publishing their work for an audience gives children a purpose for their writing. We showcase a range of authentic types of publication in the reading environment, such as picture books, short stories, graphic novels, collections of poetry, newspapers, leaflets, notices, information booklets and instructions. Plan opportunities for bookmaking, publishing or final performance that brings the children’s writing to a wider audience and creates pride in finished pieces. We provide opportunity for children to have their writing read aloud, and performed, then discussed and polished further. We aim to allow time to be spent on considering the layout of a poem as in getting the words and rhythms right. We use technology as a powerful tool for learning, showcasing authentic means of digital publication for web pages, newspapers, comics, film and other digital texts.