Our Approach to Writing
At St. John's Primary School we plan learning using our English curriculum texts as a driver. We follow The Literacy Company’s ‘Pathways to Write’ from EYFS to Year 6.
Aims for Writing
- To enable children to write in a variety of styles and forms, be it narrative or non-fiction.
- To enable children to successfully write for a wide range of purposes and audiences.
- To encourage children to confidently write for enjoyment, independence and success.
Children take part in a variety of planned writing activities, both within English lessons and across the curriculum.
How we Teach Writing
We use Pathways to Write to drive our writing curriculum. This aligns with Pathways to Read ensuring meaningful links for our pupils with texts that are used across Literacy and the wider curriculum.
Children learn about the purpose, structure and language features of a variety of writing genres. The teaching of writing and use of compositional skills are grounded in a rich experience of reading and reflecting on quality written texts. The texts are often used as models for writing. When appropriate, cross-curricular links are made.
Children are given regular opportunities for telling, retelling and refining texts as a preparation for writing. We encourage the process of planning, saying, writing, checking and editing writing.
Planned teaching sequences include shared, guided and independent writing. We prepare children for the transition from shared to independent writing by use of teacher demonstrations-‘modelling’ writing, teacher scribing and supported composition.
Extended writing opportunities are regularly planned for across the curriculum. This encourages the children to be creative and flexible with their writing skills, applying what has previously been taught; e.g. writing a narrative set in Ancient Egypt or writing an explanation of how a volcano erupts.
Writing in the EYFS
The skilled staff in EYFS provide many exciting writing opportunities for the children, both focused sessions and through continuous provision. They follow the Pathways planning when it is appropriate and grips the children’s interests. Children are given a range of opportunities to create and use print in a meaningful way.
At St John’s we are very proud of our pupil’s handwriting and take particular care in our handwriting style. We use Letter-join’s on-line handwriting resource as the basis of our handwriting policy as it covers all the requirements of the National Curriculum. Handwriting is a basic skill that influences the quality of work throughout the curriculum. Find out more about handwriting here.
Pathways to Write: A Whole School Approach
Pathway's ensures coverage and progression through the National Curriculum:
- Mastery of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation skills
- Writing a range of genres across a year
- Vocabulary development
- Using a wider range of reading comprehension strategies as a whole class
- Spoken language activities including drama and presentations
- Opportunities for practising previously taught genres
- An extended, independent piece of writing
Pathways to Write - The Sequence
- The Gateway begins with a ‘hook’ session to intrigue and enthuse young writers
- Pupils are given the opportunity to predict
- The purpose and audience of the text is established
- Revisit previous mastery skills and ongoing skills through an assessed piece of writing
- New writing skills are introduced from the year group's curriculum, these are called mastery keys and these are displayed in the classroom.
- Writing opportunities are provided to practise and apply the skills taught. This is through short and extended writing tasks, including character descriptions, poetry, dialogue between characters, fact files or diary entries in role.
- Opportunities are provided to re-cap and apply previously taught skills.
- There are opportunities to challenge greater depth writers through a wider range of tasks e.g. changes to form, viewpoint and audience.
- Pupils section and sequence texts, this can be independently or collaboratively.
- They create extended pieces of writing.
- Opportunity is given to apply mastery skills.
- Time is given for planning, writing, checking, editing, redrafting and publishing.
- A fiction or non-fiction outcome will be written (covering a wide range of genres and themes over the year).
Our Approach to Reading
At St. John's Primary School we value reading as a key life skill and ensure reading is a fundamental part of what we do. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every child learns to read with confidence whilst developing a true love of reading. If children learn to read they can then read to learn!
All children from the moment they start with us in our Early Years are exposed to high quality texts across the curriculum, reading skills are taught explicitly in all year groups and reading is given a high profile throughout school.
How We Teach Reading
We follow a Mastery approach for the teaching of reading through the programme Pathways to Read. Units of work are delivered using high quality texts and children in all year groups are given varied opportunities for reading. Skills are built up through repetition within the units, and children apply these skills in the reading activities provided.
We deliver daily reading lessons from years 2-6 with bespoke grouped reading for every pupil at least once a week as well as individual reading. In our shared and grouped reads, there is a clear teaching focus with the opportunity to master key reading skills in each session. There are follow on reading tasks to enable pupils to evidence the skills they have mastered independently. For pupils still needing support with phonics, we provide a reading programme that has phonically decodable texts at the heart of it.
Many opportunities for widening children’s vocabulary are given through the Pathways to Read approach and this builds on the extensive work we do in school to provide our children with a rich and varied vocabulary.
Progression in Reading Skills
Whole class reading sessions following the four-part structure:
- The core elements of each session are prediction, developing pupils' vocabulary and retrieval.
- Guided small group reading sessions allow time for refining comprehension skills'
- Follow-on activities are provided following each group session for pupils to complete independently.
Reading Books in School
Our goal is to foster a passion for reading. We provide a variety of excellent reading resources in the classroom. Stories, newspapers, levelled reading materials, library books, informational books, eBooks, and more. Research shows that children who read a variety of books form preferences and incorporate ambitious vocabulary and writing styles into their own work.
At St. John's, we are passionate about reading for pleasure as this plays a major role in reading development. Each classroom has an inviting Book Area with high quality texts that have been carefully chosen.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.
We teach Phonics and Early Reading using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Scheme. Read more about Our Approach to Phonics.
Our Approach to Spelling
We aim for all our pupils to become fluent and effective writers. We use the National Curriculum as a basis for teaching GPS by introducing patterns, conventions and continually practising those already introduced. From September 2022 Year 2-6 will use Pathways to Spelling with an aim to develop a school of spellers.
Pathways to Spell is an innovative and engaging programme to fascinate pupils about words. It is a research-based series of lessons following a Review, Explain, Practise, Apply and Reflect model. Through this programme, we aim to develop a school of spellers who use a series of strategies in lessons and in their independent writing. There is a cycle of reviewing objectives, covering the whole curriculum, to ensure gaps in learning are constantly revisited. Pathways to Spell links directly with our writing and reading programmes.
Key elements of Pathways to Spell:
- Covers the whole national curriculum.
- Pedagogically sound and evidence-based.
- Multi-sensory approach.
- Builds phonemic, orthographic and etymological knowledge.
- Develops a range of independent spelling strategies to apply beyond spelling lessons.
- Regular opportunities to edit and improve work are provided. The children are expected to proofread their work to improve spelling, punctuation and grammar. They add, omit and change words to improve the content.