At St Hilda’s we strive for children to become articulate and imaginative communicators, who are well equipped with the basic skills to become lifelong learners. Rich texts are at the heart of our teaching of writing, and we know how integral a love of reading is to becoming an imaginative writer. We intend for our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. As they become more confident and develop their stamina for writing, pupils will build on a range of skills. Our learners are challenged and encouraged to take risks and view mistakes as another part of the learning process, just like the editing process for real-life authors. Setting themselves high expectations, pupils will take pride in all aspects of learning and in everything they produce. This will involve high expectations in presentation, an explicit understanding of grammar and spelling rules as well as being able to manipulate language for effect.
Pathways to Write
From EYFS to Year 6, we follow the mastery approach of The Literacy Company’s “Pathways to Write” scheme. Units of work give children in all year groups varied opportunities for writing. Throughout the school, we ensure the children are immersed in high quality texts, exposed to a range of genres, and have a clear understanding of their purpose for writing. Skills are built up through repetition within the units, and children apply these skills in the writing activities provided. Many opportunities for widening children’s vocabulary are given through the Pathways to Write approach and this builds on the extensive work we do in school to provide our children with a rich and varied vocabulary across all subjects.
Important key themes run throughout the books chosen such as Black History, Refugees and Shakespeare, providing children with an understanding of historical issues and important topics affecting the world they live in today.
Every term, we also conduct a whole school writing week to immerse the school in a theme and creates opportunities to write purposefully. Here are just some of the examples below of our amazing themes!
Lights on Cotton Rock
David Litchfield’s sensationally illustrated book provided inspiration for one of our first Writing Weeks! The hall became a spaceship as we had to write about what pupils predicted what would happen next. We were even lucky enough to receive a personalised message from the author himself!
The Firswood Grinch
What happened to our school Christmas tree? It became a crime scene as younger children had to describe the criminal, who was a familiar, green Christmas character. Whilst our older children became journalists and had to analyse the evidence and interview our caretaker to find out who the culprit was, before reporting it to our local community.
How to Look After a Dragon
Each child was given a small dragon egg to look after and imagine what would be inside. EYFS children drew their dragon, KS1 children wrote a description of their dragon and KS2 wrote instructions of how to look after it!
Children can use the phonics sounds learnt to spell phonetically. Children in Year 1 and Year 2 will also learn some common exception words which do not follow phonetic spelling patterns but are used regularly in everyday writing for example ‘saw’ and ‘what’.
Once the phonics programme is completed from Year 2 onwards, children have short, snappy daily sessions using ReadWriteInc Spelling. This covers the National Curriculum expectations for each year group and focuses on rules for spelling certain words in the English language. The programme has an exciting online ‘Spelling Planet’ with fun activities to embed outstanding spelling skills. This scheme also recognises the complex spelling within the English language and has “Special Focus” weeks, that focus on exceptions to the rules.
Alongside this programme, the spelling is supplemented with regular practice of the Year 3/4 and Year 5/6 Statutory Spelling lists. These are often spellings which do not match the usual spelling rules, but children are expected to know by the end of Year 4 and Year 6 respectively. Links to these can be found below:
Children in Y3 to Y6 have a low stakes spelling test at the end of the week. These spellings will be sent out half-termly to practice at home, and the spelling rule that is tested on the Friday has been taught in the week leading up to it. This means this is a quick check on whether children can apply to rule taught to existing words they know and new words.