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Writing at MPS

At Middleton Primary School, English and the teaching of English is the foundation of our curriculum. Our aim is to ensure every single child becomes primary literate. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and use discussion to communicate and further their learning.

English at Middleton is not only taught through a sequence of daily lessons; but is at the heart of the entire curriculum. It is embedded within all our lessons and we will strive for a high level of English for all.

Each half term, our key texts are fiction however, these are supplemented with a range of non-fiction texts.  These texts are also linked to topic work and into writing where many non-fiction texts are used to support the various writing genres in school, within the daily writing lesson and through the wider curriculum.  Through using these high-quality texts, it immerses our children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensures curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met. The children at Middleton will be exposed to a language heavy, creative and continuous English curriculum which will enable them to become primary literate.

Our aim for writing is:
• to foster the enjoyment of writing, and a recognition of its value;
• to encourage accurate and meaningful writing, be it narrative or non-fiction;
• to improve the planning, drafting and editing of their written work.

We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful and fun opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. Oracy skills are the driving force of our school curriculum, we promote Voice 21’s four strands in our classroom through Talk Rules. There is clear progression throughout school of dialogic teaching activities, Tower Hamlet language structures and well-chosen vocabulary suitable to the age and needs of the children.
We ensure that our curriculum shows clear progression for all children. In line with Development Matters and the New National Curriculum all year groups teach grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for their age group.

We recognise that each child has their own starting point upon entry to every year group and progress is measured in line with these starting points to ensure every child, inclusive of vulnerability, can celebrate success. Teachers plan and teach personalised, purposeful English lessons which focus on the particular needs of each child. In our daily literacy lessons vulnerable groups are highlighted and support staff are used to support these groups further, though PiXl therapies, to ensure progression and specific year group skills are secure.

We strive to meet the needs of those pupils with special educational needs, those with disabilities, those with special gifts and talents, and those learning English as an additional language, and we take all reasonable steps to achieve this.  We meet every half term to discuss every child’s progress in writing and put interventions in place for those children needing extra support.

Writing in EYFS

In the EYFS physical development underpins children’s ability to manipulate writing tools. We therefore provide a range of experiences to develop the muscles needed to engage in writing. These include movement play sessions, dough disco and  funky finger challenges. Throughout the provision children have access to a wide range of mark making resources and stimuli to encourage early drawing and writing. Correct letter formation is taught within our daily RWI sessions and Penpals hand writing lessons.

Writing in Key Stage 1

In Key Stage 1, our daily writing sessions follow on from and complement our reading model. Across the week, we focus on one writing genre and explicit teach the skills needed to create good quality writing. We use a wealth of resources to meet the needs of our children including PiXL, Twinkl and Grammarsaurus as well as our bespoke writing units of work. Modelling is an imperative part of our structured lessons and is present during our carpet inputs. Dialogical teaching is embedded across the curriculum, even more so in our writing sessions. Once equipped with the tools and knowledge the children move on to the application within their own writing. We teach the children very early on the importance of the think, say, count, write, check as a process for sentence writing. Children then move on to editing their writing which is a process done with the teacher for different purposes. Much of our writing is cross-curricular and flows into our afternoon topic sessions too.

Writing in Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2, our daily writing sessions follow on from and complement our reading model. Our units are dependant on the genre of writing, these can last from one to three weeks. We use a wealth of resources to meet the needs of our children including Twinkl and Grammarsaurus, but much of our writing is taught through PiXL and our bespoke writing units of work. Dialogical teaching is embedded across the curriculum, even more so in our writing sessions where we use sentence stems to support oracy skills and writing. Once equipped with the tools and knowledge the children move on to the application within their own writing. Much of our writing is cross-curricular and flows into our afternoon topic sessions too. See below for an example of a structured weekly writing cycle that makes up our writing sessions.

Handwriting

Rationale                                                                                      

We aim for our children to leave in Year 6 with the ability to write using their own style of fast, fluent, legible and sustainable handwriting, as well as other styles of writing for specific purposes. In addition to teaching handwriting during our regular handwriting lessons, we have high expectations that what is taught and practiced in handwriting lessons will be used in all writing activities. We believe that handwriting is integral to a child’s personal development and know that children’s engagement and self-esteem can be improved by their satisfaction and pride in good quality presentation.

Aims

Handwriting is a taught skill that develops at different rates for different children. All of the teachers in the school put a priority on teaching handwriting and have high expectations for handwriting across the curriculum. Our school uses Penpals for Handwriting to ensure that:

  • The importance of handwriting is recognised and given appropriate time.
  • The progression of handwriting is consistent across the school.
  • Handwriting is acknowledged to be a whole body activity and emphasis is placed on correct posture and pencil grip for handwriting.
  • Expectations of left-handed children are equal to those of right-handed children, and appropriate advice and resources are available to ensure that they learn to write with a comfortable, straight wrist.
  • Handwriting is linked into grammar, punctuation and spelling in order to practice and contextualise all of the transcriptional and stylistic skills for writing.
  • Children learn to self-assess their own writing and develop understanding and responsibility for improving it.
  • Children learn to write in different styles for different purposes such as print for labelling a diagram, illustrated capitals letters for creating a poster, swift jottings for writing notes, making a ‘best copy’ for presentation and fast, fluent and legible writing across the curriculum.

Progression of skills

Penpals enables us to teach and secure the development of handwriting throughout the school:

  • First, children experience the foundation of handwriting through multi-sensory activities (EYFS F2).
  • Correct letter formation is taught, practised, applied and consolidated (EYFS F1/Y1).
  • Joining is introduced only after correct letter formation is used automatically (Y1/Y2/Y3).
  • Joins are introduced systematically and cumulatively (Y2–Y6).
  • As children practice joining, they pay attention to the size, proportion and spacing of their letters and words (Y3–Y6).
  • Once the joins are secure, a slope is introduced in order to support increased speed and fluency (Y5).
  • Children are introduced to different ways of joining in order that they can develop their own preferred personal style (Y6).

In using Penpals, we ensure that our children follow the requirements and recommendations of the National Curriculum. We share the aspirations that children’s handwriting should be ‘sufficiently fluent and effortless for them to manage the general demands of the curriculum’ and that ‘problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say’.

Handwriting tools

Throughout their time in school, children use a range of tools for different purposes and styles of handwriting including:

  • A wide range of tools and media for mark-making in the EYFS.
  • Whiteboard pens throughout the school.
  • Fingers when writing on the interactive whiteboard.
  • Art supplies including coloured pens and pencils for posters, displays and artwork.
  • Sharp pencils for most writing until a pen licence is awarded.
  • A handwriting pen for when they sustain a good level of presentation.

Penpals interactive resources support the teaching of handwriting and provide exercises to physically prepare children for handwriting. Handwriting is always introduced and practised in the Penpals Practice Books and on lined paper so that children quickly learn about letter orientation including ascenders and descenders. As children’s fine motor skills improve and their letter formation or joining becomes increasingly accurate, the width between the lines they write on gradually decreases.

Equality of opportunity

All of our children have equal access to handwriting lessons and to the resources available. We recognise that some children take longer to develop the necessary skills and we cater for those children by providing additional opportunities for skills development. Children who need specific fine motor or handwriting interventions are identified early and the impact of interventions is carefully monitored. Children with a physical disability are catered for, and progress is monitored, according to their individual action plans.