Here at Belmont School, our approach to writing is based on Talk for Writing (T4W) which is an approach that supports children to explore, through talk, the thinking and creative processes involved in being a writer. It is embedded at every phase of the teaching sequence which is structured to include teacher talk, supported pupil talk and independent pupil talk. We believe that Talk for Writing is an approach that goes beyond the development of children’s general speaking and listening skills – it allows children to explore the processes involved in being a writer, and extends oral rehearsal so that it becomes a draft for their written pieces. The approach supports the children to move from talk into writing.
Grammar is taught in context throughout all T4W units using the T4W grammar progression document. From EYFS onwards, teachers use the correct technical vocabulary in their teaching to encourage the correct use of these terms by children. In Key Stage 2 every child develops their own “Writer’s Toolbox” in order to support themselves as independent writers.
You can find out more about Talk for Writing below.
Spelling is taught as part of a planned programme, following the requirements of the National Curriculum. In EYFS and Key Stage 1, phonic work is taught systematically from Reception to Year 2 using ‘Letters and Sounds.’ Children will be taught:
High Frequency Words
Throughout each phase the tricky high frequency words will be taught. Each teacher uses a variety of methods to ensure the correct spelling of the high frequency words appropriate to each phase plus specific tier 3 (subject specific) vocabulary. Teachers should recognise worthy attempts made by children to spell words but should also correct them selectively and sensitively.
In Key Stage 2 an investigative approach is taken to the teaching of spelling and is supported by No Nonsense Spelling (Babcock). A spelling lesson is given each week, followed by 2 to 3 short practise sessions so that children have the opportunity to embed new spellings. This will include the learning of the statutory word lists in the 2014 English curriculum, lists given each week. Where necessary, some pupils will consolidate their phonic knowledge and skills from Key Stage 1 through the structured intervention “Word Wasp.”
Pupils have daily opportunities to engage in shared, guided and independent reading both in English and other subjects across the curriculum. We aim for children to become independent, able readers, who understand and demonstrate a passion for reading and a love of books. Reading sessions will encourage children to respond to high quality texts in a number of ways through the use of reading journals and the VIPERS approach. Our school literature spine identifies high quality, age appropriate texts that we believe should be read by the time our children leave each year group. Some of these books have been specifically chosen to be used as whole class texts, some for guided reading and some for independent reading. Each book has been chosen specifically to expose our children to the best stories, poems and authors that exist and therefore the essential ingredients to support them as both readers and writers.
We aim for all children to achieve a neat, legible style with correctly formed letters in a cursive font, eventually producing a fluent joined handwriting style. It is vital that children can write quickly, comfortably and legibly, as it is a skill needed in many curriculum areas. Children’s self-esteem is also heightened when they are able to take pride in their handwriting. All staff use cursive script as appropriate when modelling, marking or writing comments on children’s work. Shared and guided writing activities enable staff to model letter formation and handwriting and provide children with opportunities to practise skills. Handwriting is also taught in separate sessions on a regular basis to ensure it is given sufficient emphasis. We teach a continuous cursive style. This involves all letters beginning on the line and finishing with a flick. Children are then taught to join the letters.
Talk For Writing
We have introduced the 'Talk for Writing' approach to writing developed by educational writer, Pie Corbett. It is fun, creative yet also rigorous and has a proven record of accelerating children's learning.
It starts with enjoying and sharing stories. Throughout the school, we place a strong emphasis on children reading stories and enjoying a range of literature. Through regular reading, we want children to build up an extensive and rich vocabulary for use in their own writing.
Talk for Writing is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version. It is built on three stages of teaching:
1) Imitation - the children learn a text and the language they need
2) Innovation - the children adapt the model text with ideas of their own
3) Invention - the children create their own text using the language and skills that the model taught them.
During the initial 'imitation' stage of Talk for Writing, a text (fiction and non-fiction) is introduced and read to the children. Together they learn to tell the story off by heart. To help them remember the text a multi-sensory approach is used. They retell a text with expression and actions and use a visual story map to support their retelling. As children learn the text word for word, they build up a bank of interesting vocabulary, phrases and types of plot which they can then use in their own writing. The principle is that if a child can tell a story, they will be able to write a story.
Once the story is learnt, children are encouraged to adapt it. At this 'innovation' stage, children make the story their own. They could start with a simple change of character or for older children it may involve telling the story from a different view point. They will make changes to their story map and rehearse retelling their innovated story orally. They will then write out the innovated story in manageable sections and will receive feedback from the teacher. There is an opportunity to respond to this marking before they go on to write the next section. This very supportive and structured approach allows children to gain confidence and know what they need to do in order to get better.
The final stage is the 'invention' stage where the children use all the skills they have learnt to write an independent piece. There is the freedom to draw upon their own ideas and experiences, or they can 'hug closely' to the shared text should they need to.
Who is Pie Corbett?
Pie Corbett, an educational consultant, author and poet. He is well known for promoting creativity in the classroom and has experience as a teacher, head teacher and OFSTED inspector. He regularly lectures on education around the world and the UK government consult with him as an educational advisor.
National Curriculum: English (DfE)
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English ensures that all pupils:
read easily, fluently and with good understanding
develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate