"If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do the thinking for them"
Eric Blair (George Orwell)
The fundamental purpose for teaching writing at St Francis de Sales is encapsulated in Orwell's view. Our curriculum is designed so that all pupils can use the skills they have learnt to: develop as creative, independent writers; form and articulate their own ideas; appreciate writing as an enjoyable pastime; inspire further study of the subject and improve pupils’ lives as active members of society.
Our writing curriculum’s deliberately ambitious design allows all pupils to develop their independent writing skills for different purposes and audiences. It is comprehensive but necessarily selective, ensuring that pupils understand how to adapt their style, language and vocabulary appropriately for the context. We place a strong emphasis upon the development of vocabulary, which provides children with a word-rich diet that they can apply across the curriculum.
Our 'Process for Writing' provides a systematically sequenced structure with opportunities to acquire genre-specific knowledge and grammar skills; develop oracy skills; and organise texts coherently. To begin, pupils produce a diagnostic baseline assessment of their individual starting point, including their prior knowledge, strengths and misconceptions, which are used to inform planning. Next, pupils deconstruct high-quality texts to learn from their structure, grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Finally, pupils use their acquired skills and knowledge to produce an independent piece of writing with a purposeful and, where possible, 'real-life' context. Through the teaching of spelling and handwriting, pupils are not limited by their inability to write quickly and accurately to clearly communicate their ideas.
Our curriculum provides a challenging and creative outlet for our pupils to express themselves effectively. It sets them up for a life-long love and understanding of an integral set of language skills that will enable them to participate fully in society, which we know is fundamental in actively reducing the risks of them being disenfranchised.
We ensure that the teaching of writing reflects our context by ensuring it is purposeful, robust and shows clear progression for all children.
During daily writing lessons, pupils acquire the knowledge and skills in composition, grammar and punctuation as set out in ‘St Francis de Sales Writing Progression Ladder’ - which uses statutory objectives at its core. Genre-specific knowledge organisers and explicit grammar knowledge organisers supplement teaching, by giving pupils the necessary knowledge to apply independently. We consider our teachers as the best model of excellent practice, who ignite passion, creativity and a love of writing into their lessons.
We have high aspirations that all pupils become confident, independent writers. Our ‘Challenge Without Limits’ approach to differentiation ensures that pupils are not restricted by artificial barriers and open-ended questions are posed at different stages of their learning to deepen and extend thinking. We further support some learners with timely, effective interventions using our formative hotspots so that misconceptions can be addressed and prior learning revisited to allow them to succeed regardless of their starting point.
Writing is strengthened and enriched by instilling a love for reading. Every term, our writing topics are taught alongside our study of high-quality texts from our ‘Story Sessions’, where each text is purposefully selected to promote a love of reading, exposure to rich vocabulary and high quality writing. Termly, at least one piece of independent writing is written using this stimulus. We also take advantage of trips and visitors to inspire our writing outcomes, which enrich pupils’ understanding and broaden their cultural capital.
The knowledge and skills used in writing lessons are applied across all other curriculum subjects. This allows the acquired knowledge and skills to be practised and consolidated in new contexts, which is a true, objective indicator of a pupil’s understanding.
Formative Assessment used by Classroom Teachers
Writing Lead uses QLA from end of KS2 data to inform whole school targets and planning
Topics begin with a diagnostic baseline assessment of the pupil's individual starting point, which is used to inform ‘Hotspots’. These are referred to explicitly during teaching and learning, alongside intervention at the point of learning.
Topics end with an independent piece of writing. Pupils use the knowledge and skills that they have acquired and apply it in a different context. This provides an objective measure of progress from the initial baseline assessment.
Pupils’ ‘Writing Folder’ builds a narrative of progress over time, which teachers can use formatively to inform planning.
Summative Assessment by Class Teachers and Writing Lead
Independent writing is assessed termly using Teacher Assessment Frameworks that have been developed to support teachers making judgements.
Writing is moderated between and across year groups by teachers and the Writing Lead
Writing is cross-moderated externally in collaboration with local schools
At the end of each year, moderated independent writing in narrative and non-fiction forms our Golden Thread. This demonstrates the progression of pupils’ skills and knowledge from their starting point in Year 3 to their final KS2 end point.
Rigorous Monitoring by Writing Lead and SLT
Termly book reviews ensure quality and consistency between the year group and whole school cohesion. They ensure the Marking and Feedback Policy is being followed consistently.
Learning walks and observations provide feedback to teachers to move their practice forward; directing them towards in-house coaching or CPD.
Feedback from Stakeholders
Annual teacher voice surveys are used critically to make changes to planning or to develop teachers’ professionally.
Annual pupil interviews allow pupils to talk about their progress, enjoyment and understanding.
Parent feedback enables us to offer training to the wider community to support children at home.
This presentation shows the standards and progress of pupils from Y3 to Y6 via our identified "Golden Thread" of Narrative and Discursive texts in Writing.