At Ashbrook School, we want our children to become confident, creative and expressive writers. We want them to develop a love of writing, building on their starting points and developing a wide range of skills. We use the programme ‘Wordsmith’ from Active Learn as a planning tool to ensure all lessons are carefully sequenced so that children build on their knowledge, understanding and skills. We ensure children have the opportunity to write a range of genres and for different purposes. Each unit of writing has been designed to ensure that we allow all of our children the opportunity for extended writing. At the end of each unit, an independent piece of writing will be completed by each child. This is then used to inform future planning to ensure that all children meet their aspirational targets. Children have the opportunity to embed their learning through applying their writing skills across other curriculum areas.
We plan our lessons and units based on 4 key principles of how children learn: Contextualised grammar, talk for writing, varied and whole texts and real purpose and audience.
Building upon these principles, our curriculum is built in units that are designed to excite, with reading for pleasure at its core and grammar lessons woven in throughout.
Varied, whole texts
We have a unique use of diverse whole texts which enables children to become fully immersed and engaged in a range of great books. Carefully chosen books help to develop children’s reading skills and their knowledge of the world around them, and to build up a store of reading experience on which they can draw later in life. These books both help children to learn how the experts write and act as models for their own writing.
Purpose and audience
Writing takes on meaning, and a sense of excitement, when it is composed for a real purpose and a defined audience. Each of the Live units has a performance or publication outcome because knowing who will read a piece of work or watch a performance, and why they will do so, raises motivation and can have a direct impact on raising standards
Talk for writing
Oral rehearsal helps children to develop a sense of what a sentence is and, later, to hear how more complex sentences sound. It also helps them to hear the difference between the way we talk and the way we write. Discussion is where deep learning takes place. Our curriculum provides children with opportunities for oral rehearsal and talking, assisting with evaluation and reflection.
To become great writers, children need to understand how great writing is put together. Exploring the grammar choices of authors, how grammar is used in real texts and the terminology to discuss it provides children with a toolkit to use language confidently and effectively in their own writing.
For each term, our curriculum provides units that cover a selection of varied text types: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry and Live (units that focus on real-world application). A unit is based on one or two main texts and lasts between two and four weeks. There are also discrete skills-based lesson options, Word Detectives and Grammar Blasts, which complement these.
At Ashbrook School, we teach handwriting using the ‘Letterjoin’ handwriting programme which supports the National Curriculum 2014 requirements for handwriting.
In Reception, pattern practice and ‘play’ writing are an important part of handwriting development. Your child will be practising letter formation in a number of exciting ways; in sand, using paint, in the air, on the interactive whiteboard as well as on paper with a pencil. Lower case letters are introduced in ‘families’ (i.e. letters that are formed in similar ways).
Statutory requirements for Year One:
- sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly
- begin to form lower-case letters in the correct direction, starting and finishing in the right place
- form capital letters
- form digits 0-9
- understand which letters belong to which handwriting ‘families’ and to practise these
Statutory requirements for Year Two:
- Pupils should be taught to:
- form lower-case letters of the correct size relative to one another
- start using some of the diagonal and horizontal strokes needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined
- write capital letters and digits of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another and to lower case letters
- use spacing between words that reflects the size of the letter
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling is taught alongside phonics through learning to sound out words by segmenting them into the different sounds. In KS1, weekly spellings are sent home to practice and learn. These spellings will relate to the ‘key words’ children have to learn through the national curriculum. Weekly spellings can also contain tricky words and common exception words. Once in Year 2, children will begin learning a variety of spelling patterns. They will develop their knowledge of word families, how suffixes impact upon root words and learn different strategies for remembering the trickiest spellings. This is an extension programme from our ‘Read, Write, Inc’ programme and will only be taught once a child has fully completed the phonics programme.
Grammar is taught discretely each week within the English lesson, with the opportunity to consolidate skills through a variety of engaging games and activities. Children are provided with opportunities to apply their new learning in the context of their writing.
At Ashbrook School, we believe having a high level of vocabulary knowledge and being able to confidently read texts, unlocks the ability to access the wider curriculum This enables children to have a richer understanding and knowledge of all subjects and develop the skills within them. Alongside core vocabulary, we aim to broaden children’s vocabulary by teaching them new adventurous and subject-specific words each week, ensuring children can recognise, pronounce and say what the word means. We encourage children to apply the new vocabulary they have acquired across all areas of the curriculum. These words are chosen specifically through our ‘Talk through Stories’ programme.