English is the backbone of our curriculum at Woodvale. We believe it is vital in developing the children’s ability to express themselves and our English lessons have a strong focus on vocabulary development. This helps the children to understand ambitious texts and articulate themselves across a broad range of contexts.
At Woodvale, writing lessons are based on the Talk for Writing framework. This is an exciting teaching philosophy which enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version both in fiction and non-fiction genres.
We believe that talk is essential in developing our pupils’ thinking as it is the foundation which leads to high quality written work. We promote the importance of being a confident speaker as well as an attentive listener, modelling our expectations of what this looks like in the classroom. Through premium classroom talk facilitated by our teachers, the children are given the opportunity to share their ideas aloud and check that they make sense before they begin writing. They can also review and improve these in response to verbal feedback and useful suggestions from their peers. We know that the ability to speak and write with fluency and confidence is important in both education and as a member of society, and plan our writing lessons carefully to ensure that there are lots of opportunities for our pupils to talk about what they are thinking before putting pencil to paper.
Across the school, we teach writing using high-quality texts ranging from picture books to poetry, which sit alongside engaging real-life experiences and school trips. Throughout their time at Woodvale, children will write in a variety of forms. Children are taught to become accomplished writers developing their skills in writing a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including diary entries, newspaper reports, information texts, poems, plays and stories of all kinds. We use drama, storytelling and discussion to stimulate the imagination, then move on to exploring vocabulary, sentence structure and original writing.
Writing opportunities are interwoven across the curriculum, with children applying the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their English lessons.
At the end of their Woodvale journey, the children are equipped with the tools they need to be proficient writers.
Handwriting, Spelling and Grammar
Handwriting at Woodvale is taught discretely, starting with mark making in Early Years and continuing through the school culminating with using legible, joined handwriting in Upper Key Stage 2. From Year 5 onwards children whose handwriting is consistently of a high standard are able to write in pen.
In Years 1 and 2 spellings are taught within daily phonics teaching, following the Letters and Sounds Phonics Scheme. In Years 3 – 6 the National Curriculum statutory word lists are followed supported through the use of The Spelling Shed. Spellings form a part of weekly homework with children being tested each week.
Throughout the school from Year 1 through to Year 6 grammar forms part of English lessons, linking to the genre being taught.
Summer Term Reconnection
In order to ensure writing skills coverage and address any untaught aspects of SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) this term, teachers will refer closely to the Talk for Writing (T4W) Progression of Skills document when planning their writing lessons.
Alongside the T4W Medium Term Plans, this will ensure that our pupils acquire the ‘essential’ writing skills that they need by the end of this academic year.
Teachers will continue to refer to the ‘Everyday Toolkit’ of writing skills for their pupils, as well as genre specific toolkits for the unit they are teaching so that the children know which features to include in their writing to be successful.
We recognise that some skills that were taught during lockdown may not yet be fully secure and teachers will therefore use their professional judgement to decide which of these skills need to be revisited during the Summer Term.