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at St Elisabeth’s CE Primary School

Programmes of Study

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) and includes;
  • plan, evaluate and improve their writing.

It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these dimensions, as well as being taught how to plan, evaluate and improve 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 forming, 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.

How is Writing Taught?

At St Elisabeth’s CE Primary School, we teach the expectations from the National Curriculum in writing. Firstly, children are immersed in the different text types, becoming aware of the different features at word, sentence and text level. Grammar and spelling expectations are interwoven into English lessons as well as being taught discretely. We use strategies that include; modelled writing, shared writing, guided writing and writing partners to support children in their writing. We use the Literacy Counts scheme ( following the First steps process) to teach fiction writing and follow the First Steps programme for non-fiction writing.

Secondly, we give a hook and purpose for their writing that engages them in their independent writing. Before the children write, they analyse a text type thoroughly and proceed to write independently including all the features they have learnt. After the children have completed their writing, we also use a range of assessment for learning strategies to enable children to edit and improve their work. We use peer marking from Year 1 upwards; this is where children mark each other’s writing using the clear objectives in the success criteria.

The skills the children have learnt are then applied across the curriculum where children have the opportunity to practise these skills in different subjects. We see our English lessons as where we learn the skills to write and the foundation subjects as the vehicle to practise and embed these writing skills.


We ensure children are exposed to a breadth of different genres in their reading that gives the children knowledge of how different texts work. Children apply this knowledge into their writing, to produce a range of writing, across a variety of genres, including narrative; (e.g. extended stories, stories by the same author, myths and legends, adventure stories and traditional stories), non-fiction (e.g. persuasive texts, non-chronological reports, information texts, recounts, reports and letters) and poetry (e.g. rhyme, nonsense rhymes, shape poems, acrostic and descriptive poetry). 

Genres are taught and learnt considering the:

  • purpose
  • form
  • audience

Throughout each unit, the links between reading and writing are made explicit – we read as writers and we write as readers!

The progress throughout each unit of work shows the transition between reading as writers (focusing on structure, characterisation, and language features etc…) to writing as readers (word play, describing, composition, planning, editing etc…).

Integral to the process of writing is speaking and listening. Oracy is key to enable children to articulate their thoughts, retell stories, orally create new stories and orally rehearse what they are going to write and re-read what they have written.

Writing - Early Years Foundation Stage

How our children start to learn to write!

At St Elisabeth’s CE Primary School, children begin to develop their writing skills in the Nursery year through daily access to physical activity.  Children are given plentiful opportunity to develop their gross motor skills; they are encouraged to run, climb, balance, throw, push, pull and swing their arms.  Fine motor skills enable children to strengthen their hands and fingers, so that they can grip a pencil through activities such as: Dough Disco, Squiggle while you Wiggle’ and ‘mark making skills’. 

The underpinning ethos for children in the Early Years is to reassure them that anything they create will be valued, whatever their level of skill. If children are going to be willing to take risks with their writing, practitioners need to encourage them to ‘have a go’. ‘Getting it right’, i.e. correct spelling, handwriting, the construction of a sentence and presentation, is not something which should deter them from writing. These skills will be learned and will improve with focused adult-led activities.

Mark Making: Before children are able to form letters, they need to learn how to make marks. They're working out how writing works, how to hold their pencil, what pressure to put on the paper and how to control the marks they make.  In Nursery, this begins with them making marks such as lines, circles and squiggles, and progresses to children writing their name using correct letter formation. 

Shared Writing: In both Nursery and Reception, children engage in daily sessions of ‘shared writing’.  During these sessions the children ‘think’ and contribute ideas as to what is written but the adult completes the writing, they will learn how to write lists, captions, stories, invitations, etc.  Adults model how to both copy words from word mats (making links to reading skills) and how to use phonic skills of oral segmentation in simple words and how the phonemes are represented by graphemes and making links to grapheme/phoneme correspondence.

Guided Writing: The quality of children’s writing is affected by their ability to express their thoughts and ideas verbally; children are encouraged to share these thoughts before applying their ideas into a written text.  In the Nursery year, children are supported weekly through a guided writing activity which involves very specific instruction. The aim of these sessions is to support children in becoming independent thinkers and writers.  In Reception, the children participate in daily guided writing sessions and complete a focused writing activity with their teacher once a week.  These activities provide opportunity for the teacher to encourage children to apply their phonic skills and imaginative ideas into their written work.

Phonics: Children in both Nursery and Reception engage in daily phonics sessions, following the Little Wandle guidance to ensure they develop their phonic skills. Skills learnt and developed in these sessions are integral to the development and confidence levels in writing for each child.  As children progress through the phases within letters and sounds, they learn how to write phonetically correct words and ‘tricky’ words such as’ to’, ‘go’ and ‘the’. Children who are not on track are given the opportunity top participate in the ‘daily keep up’ programme from Little Wandle’.

Independent Writing: The adults in Nursery model writing at every opportunity for the children and encourage them to write for a range of purposes; making shopping lists in the home corner, writing labels for their models in the construction area, writing birthday cards.  Children use a range of marks and letters alongside copying words that they see displayed in the classroom environment to convey meaning.  Reception aged children complete independent pieces of work daily following a starting point that may link to topic based work.

Environment: Both the indoor and outdoor classroom have mark making and writing resources available for children to easily access and use.  Role play and small world areas encourage writing for real purposes, providing opportunity for children to make imitate writing that they have seen adults complete.  Creating purposeful contexts for writing encourages children in their willingness and desire to write, they need to be interested and motivated by opportunities for purposeful writing in all areas of learning in the EYFS.

End of Year Expectations for EYFS

End of the Nursery year: It is expected that children will be able to:

  • Give meaning to marks they make as they draw, write and paint.
  • Begins to break the flow of speech into words.
  • Hear and say the initial sound in words.
  • Uses some clearly identifiable letters to communicate meaning.
  • Write their own name.

End of the Reception year: It is expected that children will achieve the Early Learning Goal in writing:

‘Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.’


Writing - Years 1 to 6

Year Group Overviews from the National Curriculum pages 19- 48

These pages in the National Curriculum, identify the skills and knowledge the children will acquire from years One to Six.

Year One: Pupils’ writing during Year 1 will generally develop at a slower pace than their reading. This is because they need to encode the sounds they hear in words (spelling skills), develop the physical skill needed for handwriting, and learn how to organise their ideas in writing. Pupils entering Year 1 who have not yet met the early learning goals for literacy should continue to follow their school’s curriculum for the Early Years Foundation Stage to develop their word reading, spelling and language skills. However, these pupils should follow the Year 1 programme of study in terms of the books they listen to and discuss, so that they develop their vocabulary and understanding of grammar, as well as their knowledge more generally across the curriculum. If they are still struggling to decode and spell, they need to be taught to do this urgently through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they catch up rapidly. Teachers should ensure that their teaching develops pupils’ oral vocabulary as well as their ability to understand and use a variety of grammatical structures, giving particular support to pupils whose oral language skills are insufficiently developed.

Year Two: In writing, pupils at the beginning of Year 2 should be able to compose individual sentences orally and then write them down. They should be able to spell correctly many of the words covered in Year 1. They should also be able to make phonically plausible attempts to spell words they have not yet learnt. Finally, they should be able to form individual letters correctly, so establishing good handwriting habits from the beginning. It is important to recognise that pupils begin to meet extra challenges in terms of spelling during Year 2. Increasingly, they should learn that there is not always an obvious connection between the way a word is said and the way it is spelt. Variations include different ways of spelling the same sound, the use of so-called silent letters and groups of letters in some words and, sometimes, spelling that has become separated from the way that words are now pronounced, such as the ‘le’ ending in table. Pupils’ motor skills also need to be sufficiently advanced for them to write down ideas that they may be able to compose orally. In addition, writing is intrinsically harder than reading: pupils are likely to be able to read and understand more complex writing (in terms of its vocabulary and structure) than they are capable of producing themselves.

Year 3 and 4: Pupils should be able to write down their ideas with a reasonable degree of accuracy and with good sentence punctuation. Teachers should therefore be consolidating pupils’ writing skills, their vocabulary, their grasp of sentence structure and their knowledge of linguistic terminology. Teaching them to develop as writers involves teaching them to enhance the effectiveness of what they write as well as increasing their competence. Teachers should make sure that pupils build on what they have learnt, particularly in terms of the range of their writing and the more varied grammar, vocabulary and narrative structures from which they can draw to express their ideas. Pupils should be beginning to understand how writing can be different from speech. Joined handwriting should be the norm; pupils should be able to use it fast enough to keep pace with what they want to say. Pupils’ spelling of common words should be correct, including common exception words and other words that they have learnt. Pupils should spell words as accurately as possible using their phonic knowledge and other knowledge of spelling, such as morphology and etymology. Most pupils will not need further direct teaching of word reading skills: they are able to decode unfamiliar words accurately, and need very few repeated experiences of this before the word is stored in such a way that they can read it without overt sound-blending. They should demonstrate understanding of figurative language, distinguish shades of meaning among related words and use age-appropriate, academic vocabulary and apply this knowledge within their writing.

Years 5 and 6: Pupils should be able to write down their ideas quickly. Their grammar and punctuation should be broadly accurate. Pupils’ spelling of most words taught so far should be accurate and they should be able to spell words that they have not yet been taught by using what they have learnt about how spelling works in English. During years 5 and 6, teachers should continue to emphasise pupils’ enjoyment and understanding of language, especially vocabulary, to support their writing. Pupils’ knowledge of language, gained from stories, plays, poetry, non-fiction and textbooks, will support their increasing fluency as readers, their facility as writers, and their comprehension. As in years 3 and 4, pupils should be taught to enhance the effectiveness of their writing as well as their competence. It is essential that pupils whose decoding skills are poor are taught through a rigorous and systematic phonics programme so that they catch up rapidly with their peers in terms of their decoding and spelling. However, as far as possible, these pupils should follow the upper key stage 2 programme of study in terms of listening to books and other writing that they have not come across before, hearing and learning new vocabulary and grammatical structures, and having a chance to talk about all of these. By the end of year 6, pupils’ reading and writing should be sufficiently fluent and effortless for them to manage the general demands of the curriculum in year 7, across all subjects and not just in English, but there will continue to be a need for pupils to learn subject specific vocabulary. They should be able to reflect their understanding of the audience for and purpose of their writing by selecting appropriate vocabulary and grammar. Teachers should prepare pupils for secondary education by ensuring that they can consciously control sentence structure in their writing and understand why sentences are constructed as they are. Pupils should understand nuances in vocabulary choice and age-appropriate, academic vocabulary. This involves consolidation, practice and discussion of language.

Writing - Methods of Teaching

Modelled Writing: The teacher talks aloud the thought processes as a writer. They model strategies in front of the children, communicating the strategies being used. Teachers may model writing skills such as punctuation, rehearsal, proof reading, editing, word selection, sentence construction and paragraphing.

Shared Writing: This is a collaborative approach in which the pupils contribute their ideas and thoughts for the teacher to write. The teacher models and teaches specific writing skills and there is the opportunity for discussion to choose the most effective or suitable ideas. Shared writing is a powerful teaching strategy and the principal means of teaching writing, it has an essential place in the teaching of writing because it enables teachers to work with a whole class to model, explore and discuss the choices writers make at the point of writing, rather than by correction, demonstrating and sharing the compositional process directly. It also makes links between the Reading and Writing by reading and investigating how writers have used language to achieve particular effects and by using written texts as models for writing. It enables teachers to scaffold some aspects of writing, for example the spelling and transcription, to enable children to focus on particular aspects of the writing process, while supporting planning, drafting and revising. It helps introduce children to appropriate concepts.

Guided Writing: Pupils are grouped by writing ability. The teacher (or other adult) works with the group on a carefully selected task appropriate to that group’s needs and targets. This will focus on a particular aspect of the writing process rather than writing a complete piece. 

Independent Writing: Children are given opportunities to apply their understanding of the text type in their own writing.  They are encouraged to plan, draft, write, edit and improve their work, applying the skills they have learnt throughout the unit of work on that particular genre. The teaching and learning of writing varies across the age range in school.  In the early years emergent writing is encouraged through the use of different writing materials, including felt tipped pens, crayons, chalk, sand, magnetic letters, big brushes, water, paint and computers, as well as writing in the role-play areas, such as postcards, menus, invitations, labels etc…  Alongside this, children take part in activities to encourage and develop gross and fine motor skills necessary to write in a legible script.

Daily phonics lessons build their phonic and spelling knowledge to enable them to sound out words and spell high frequency words correctly.  Children throughout the year groups have spellings to learn relevant to their age, and these focus on high frequency words or a particular spelling pattern.

As children progress throughout the school, they are given many opportunities to write independently and to apply the skills they have learnt and practised in shared and guided writing.  Wherever possible, writing is made meaningful by being planned for a specific purpose or in response to a particular experience.

Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation is planned and taught as an integral part of each unit of work. Grammar lessons happen discretely and the learning applied during independent writing.  The grammar expectations are carefully matched to the unit of work to enable them to be taught and learnt within a meaningful context.

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