Learning to write well allows pupils to share their ideas, communicate with others and learn from the wider curriculum. At Amington Heath, the curriculum focuses on writing for different purposes as identified in Education Endowment Fund research ‘Improving Literacy in Key Stage Two. These are to describe, narrate, inform and explain. Our unique curriculum at Amington Heath has been carefully crafted to meet the needs of our learners and has been informed by evidence based research by the Education Endowment Fund and Michael Tidd’s Writing For a Purpose.
Our writing curriculum intends to:
Writing at Amington Heath is taught through a range of mini adventures that the children discover in each year group. Every adventure begins with a hook and provides the children with an explicit purpose and audience for writing along with the genre of writing that will be explored, planned, edited and published.
Every mini adventure is linked to a high-quality text identified that shares rich and varied vocabulary, structural ideas and inspiration for writing. They are engaging, age-appropriate and enjoyable as we know that wide reading has positive effects on writing.
Each mini adventure is carefully planned to ensure the children:
Alongside this, the children utilise their writing skills to communicate their ideas about the wider curriculum, allowing them to write for a range of purposes in a range of genres and styles. Over their time at Amington Heath, children will revisit text types and genres, building upon their previous writing skills and applying their ideas in new contexts as well as ensuring retention of the key skills for writing. Children have individualised writing targets so that they know what they need to do to improve in writing.
The early stages of spelling begin with pupils learning phonics – in other words, knowing how to use the alphabetic code of English to represent the individual sounds in the words they need to spell. Struggling with these letter-to-sound correspondences reduces pupils’ ability to transmit their ideas and compose their writing. Stopping to think about spelling a word uses working memory needed for other aspects of writing. Pupils may then forget ideas or plans that they were holding in their heads.
At Amington Heath, our aim is that each child will fluently spell, enabling them to focus on the composition aspect of writing.
In EYFS and KS1, spelling is taught alongside phonics, with decodable and non-decodable words identified and learnt within each block of learning. These directly link to the RWI phonics scheme and will also appear in the children’s decodable reading book.
In year 2 and beyond, spelling is taught explicitly each week, focusing on a spelling pattern. Teachers follow the ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ approach which:
Teachers ensure that pupils practise spellings, for example by using new spellings in their writing or writing words from dictation. Low stakes spelling tests are used to support children by identifying words that need to be learnt.
There is evidence that repeated practice in handwriting, going beyond accuracy to fluency, leads to success in higher-level writing tasks. Teaching handwriting can improve writing because the pupil can spend more time planning, thinking about content and constructing the sentences.
At Amington Heath, our aim is that each child will write fluently, with correct form, size and orientation, ensuring their writing is legible and enabling them to focus on the composition aspect of writing.
In EYFS, children develop fine and gross motor skills through a range of teacher led and independent activities. By the end of reception, children should be holding a pencil correctly and able to form letters correctly. Children are taught the correct letter formation using the RWI letter formation rhymes and visual cues.
The progression for teaching handwriting at Amington Heath is outlined in our Handwriting Policy.
The effectiveness of our writing curriculum is evident through the successful outcomes children achieve by the end of key stage two.
At the end of key stage two, 75% of children left Amington Heath working at age related expectations or above (compared to 71% nationally). 13% achieved the higher standard (in line with 13% nationally). In Grammar, Punctuation and
Spelling, 81% of children left Amington Heath working at age related expectations or above (compared to 72% nationally).