"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write."
What is Writing?
Writing is the process of using symbols (letters of the alphabet, punctuation and spaces) to communicate thoughts and ideas in a readable form. https://www.englishclub.com/writing/what.htm
Writing is the meeting point of experiences, languages and society. It is intimately bound up in an individual’s intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual growth. Such patterns are complex and draw on several disciplines (including psychology and sociology) John Dixon
Why do we study Writing?
Written communication is an exceptional characteristic of the human species. Over hundreds of years, writing has helped individuals to inform, collaborate and alert other, while societies benefitted from written history, culture and knowledge. Writing is a life skill, not only an essential job-related skill. Regardless of your career or occupation, everyone has to write to communicate with others, whether it is a friendly email, a formal business memo, a report, a job application, a press release or a message of condolence. The effectiveness of your communication can affect your daily life and your life course outcomes. So, miscommunication can have serious consequences and unintended effects.
Writing is personal. It represents us when we are absent in space and in time. Writing expresses who we are, even after our life time. It makes our knowledge, our personal aspirations and our work for the future visible to others. Writing is the means to explain our ideas to ourselves and to others while preserving our personal experiences and our memories. No one else can do it for you. In this way, writing connects you with yourself. Writing is not fleeting; it is permanent. It is a record of what you wished to communicate at a point in time.
Writing enables you to reach a much larger audience, in many places and over time. If writing was judiciously planned, thoughtfully written and designed for the intended readers, it lives on in the minds of those who read it.
The National curriculum states the purpose of the study of writing as:
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)
It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these 2 dimensions. In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
NB: This curriculum document should be read in conjunction with the Opossum Federation English Reading programme as Reading and Writing significantly overlap.
Through their study of the Opossum Writing curriculum, we intend that pupils will:
1.Use writing to communicate with an audience over time and distance
Pupils will understand the permanence of writing and its role in preserving information, thoughts and ideas for the future. Pupils will write for a range of ‘real purposes’ and ‘real audiences’ with opportunities for their work to be published or performed.
2.Effectively transcribe ideas using accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar
The ability to spell words accurately and arrange them effectively into a sentence with appropriate punctuation is essential for effective written communication
3.Articulate ideas in effective compositions, making powerful vocabulary choices.
Successful communication is dependent on the ability to ‘say what you mean’. As a writer; using a range of descriptive words helps the reader envision the content and context of the writing. By including variety in sentences and paragraphs, the reader maintains interest and engagement.
4.Draw on personal experience and that gained from wide reading as stimuli for own writing
Reading allows the observation of writing, first hand. Readers can experience a range of styles, structures and vocabulary choices when reading widely. When combined with personal experience and imagination, pupils are able to write with effect in a range of genres.
5.Appreciate and practise writing in genres within the domains of fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Writing is used in wide-ranging contexts and for numerous purposes in our lives. It is essential that pupils become familiar with a range of genres and develop their expertise in writing in these different styles. This gives them the knowledge to communicate appropriately in writing for a number of purposes and increases their cultural capital as they extend their experience of genres.
6. Write for pleasure
We aim for all pupils to find the joy in writing and to learn there is a pleasure and a power in its practice, rather than simply producing it. We aim for pupils to be able to not only find their ‘creative voice’ through being capable writers but to feel confident to commit their thoughts to the page for either self-reflection or sharing. Being able to write with confidence can provide a safe and private space where individuals can explore their thoughts and track their feelings in a considered way.
Through their study of writing, Opossum values are realised.
Being respectful - responding sensitively to the work of others and being able to question or challenge the ideas of others
Being aspirational – Creating high quality writing with a purpose and for real audiences
Being caring – recognising the significance of writing in caring for ourselves by expressing feelings
Having integrity – understanding the importance of writing own ideas and crediting authors when their work is referenced.
Being creative – Using imagination and own ideas in writing
Being community minded – recognise how written text can promote improvements in the world e.g. complaints, debate, newspaper reporting
Scope and sequence
Whilst the skills required in the writing process are specific and taught explicitly, writing ability develops as the result of experiences comprising speaking, listening, reading and writing. There is considerable overlap in these aspects of the English programme, further enhanced by oracy and visual language activities.
The Opossum English Writing curriculum fulfils the requirements of the National curriculum.
The key learning sequence from the national curriculum (and Development Matters for EYFS) is outlined in Table 1 below. This table demonstrates the key writing foci at each stage of primary education.
The Opossum curriculum draws on the First Steps Writing Programme to structure the curriculum. First Steps groups writing styles according to their social purpose, these are defined as:
- Writing to Describe
- Writing to Socialise
- Writing to Explain
- Writing to Instruct
- Writing to Entertain (poetry and prose)
- Writing to Recount
- Writing to Inquire
- Writing to Persuade
Within each social purpose, a range of genres are practised over the course of the primary curriculum. Some genres, such as narrative writing, are repeated several times to secure and embed the key principles of the genre. The genres with repeated exposure are those we have determined as comprising core, or powerful knowledge. Where a genre is encountered frequently, different contexts or forms may be selected for study. For example, a focus on poetry may emphasise rhyme, haiku or narrative form in different years – this extends pupils’ knowledge of the possibilities and range of the genre.
Writing skills begin in the Early Years with direct and child initiated writing experiences. Children write from both their personal experience and based on activities they have shared in the setting. Writing is modelled by adults and may be generated following talk, activity or storytelling. Children often draw, tell stories about their drawings and initially ‘mark make’ to represent writing. As they begin to apply their phonic knowledge and develop fine motor control, children are enabled to write their ideas with increasing skill.
Throughout KS1, pupils further increase their phonetic skill, form letters accurately and structure their ideas into more complex sentences and passages. Through exposure to a range of texts (written, spoken and visual) and real life experiences, pupils increase their vocabulary and understanding of effective sentence structure. Topics of study are selected to reflect familiar contexts, such as direct recount (writing from personal experience), fiction (contemporary texts) and invitations. Texts, such as Traditional Tales, are included in the programme; whilst these may be well-known to some pupils they are less familiar to others. As these stories are commonly referenced in our society, knowledge of these tales ensures all pupils acquire the cultural capital to understand these references. Where appropriate, connections are made with other subjects being studied, for example scheduling a study of Writing to Inquire (Interviews) with a historical study of changes in the local High Street over time.
Learning in KS2 builds on the foundations laid in EYFS and KS1. Pupils encounter some genres again and each time extend their understanding of the conventions of the style, enabling them to write with increasing effectiveness and fluency. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are taught explicitly and implicitly so that pupils are supported to write with greater technical accuracy. Pupils explore a range of texts, including classic literature, which contributes to their understanding of writing widely as considered culturally significant in modern Britain. These are complemented by the inclusion of contemporary writing and culturally diverse texts to support learning about a specific genre. Where appropriate, inter-disciplinary links are made with other subjects in the curriculum. For example, historical study of the Victorians connects well with the classic literature study of a Charles Dickens novel, so the programme is sequenced to enable this concurrent learning. Where links do not naturally occur, the integrity of the study is not compromised by insecure or tenuous connections.
Throughout the curriculum (EYFS-KS2), handwriting skills are prioritised to ensure pupils develop a legible and fluent style. In recognition of our 21st century priorities, keyboard skills are introduced to encourage correct hand placement and competent typing.
Pupils develop an awareness of phonemes and begin matching graphemes to the correct sound. Pupils begin by orally blending and segmenting simple CVC words for the sounds they have learnt
Focus on developing handwriting and letter formation skills.
The CL focus is for pupils to begin developing a sense of self and be able to communicate their own unique qualities.
Pupils begin using taught graphemes and phonemes to write simple labels. Continued emphasis on oral blending and segmenting skills. Some pupils will begin writing words for images and pictures they have drawn using sounds they know.
The CL focus is for pupils to begin developing their knowledge of various festivals and celebrations. Pupils will be expected to begin comparing these celebrations and drawing on similarities and differences.
Pupils begin developing an awareness of how to write a simple caption. Pupils begin to understand that captions are a group of words. Begin to understand the importance of using finger spaces between words. Pupils continue developing blending and segmenting skills using sounds they have been taught.
The CL focus is for pupils to begin making observations and using the language of description to talk about people who help us in our school, community and the wider world.
Pupils continue developing their ability to write captions. There is an emphasis on using finger spaces, a capital letter and a full stop. Writing reflects the pupils’ understanding of sequence and order as they will be expected to use vocabulary such as ‘first’, ‘then’, ‘next’ and ‘last’. Pupils continue developing blending and segmenting skills using sounds they have been taught.
The CL focus is for pupils to use subject specific vocabulary to describe and explain various life cycles.
Pupils begin writing sentences. There is an emphasis on using finger spaces, a capital letter and a full stop. Writing reflects the pupils' ability to use language that is both descriptive and explanatory.
The CL focus is to develop new vocabulary related to different environments. Focus on developing knowledge and understanding of landmarks and significant places within London, using descriptive language. Develop language of comparison by comparing city environments to different environments around the world.
Pupils develop their ability to retell a simple story whilst developing their language fluency and oracy skills by using high-level new vocabulary. Pupils involved in regular performance to develop confidence in storytelling.
Write simple sentences to describe the main events of the story. Pupils encouraged to reread their learning and enhance it using the newly acquired vocabulary.
Direct recount Writing from own experiences
Egg Box Dragon
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Red Riding Hood
Hansel and Gretel
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Non chronological Geographical report
Link with Geography unit
Percy the Park Keeper: After the storm
Percy the Park Keeper: The Secret Path
Here Comes Frankie
Big Green Crocodile
The Jolly Postman
History link (significant people)
Traction Man is Here
The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog
The Baker’s Boy
A Mouse Called Julian
Non chronological Geographical Report
Link to Geography unit
Entertain: Narrative: Play script
Great Fire of London link
Rules and Instructions
Safe walking and crossing (PSHE link)
Jelly Boots, Smelly Boots-Michael Rosen
Stone Age Boy
*Stone Age to Iron Age History focus
The Tin Forest
Romeo and Juliet
Non-chronological Geographical report
(Volcanoes and Earthquakes)
The Pebble in my Pocket
*Stone Age to Iron Age History focus
Butterfly Lion –Michael Morpurgo
Alexander the Great
Why was Alexander ‘Great’?
Socialise: Apology Note
Around the World in 80 days
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Rhythm of the Rain
Once Upon a Raindrop
Non chronological report
Published menu samples
Published recipe examples
Non-Chronological Historical Report
How can we tell the stories of Roman Britons?
How can we tell the story of the ‘first black people’ to live in Britain?
Discussion Text (Balanced argument)
Myths and Legends
The Adventures of Odysseus
Published informal and formal letter examples
Dilemma/ Social Issue Novel Study
Oranges in No Man’s Land
How was Baghdad different to London in 900CE?
Entertain Narrative: Fairy Tales
Alternative, historic and cross cultural Versions
Non chronological Historical Report
High Flying Giraffes (Visual Literacy)
Entertain Narrative: Playscript
The Blue Planet
What Mr Darwin Saw
A Christmas Carol -Charles Dickens
Non chronological Geographical Report
The Amazon Basin
Dilemma /Social Issue Novel Study
The Bone Sparrow- Zana Fraillon
Social Issue: Novel Study
On the Move-Michael Rosen