At West Acton we strive to develop in our pupils the ability to communicate effectively in speech, writing, to listen with understanding and have passion for reading.
We want our pupils to be motivated and confident readers who read with accuracy and fluency whilst having a strong understanding of what they are reading. As writers we want them to have confidence to write for a range of purposes both formal and informal and to be able to write for a communication purpose as well as engaging audiences with imaginative short stories and poetry.
At West Acton, we aim to provide our children with the courage, skills and aptitude to enable them to make a difference in the world. By becoming confident readers and writers , our children will have access to the exciting opportunities available to the young people of the future. We believe it is important to give children access to reading materials from a broad spectrum that includes classics and contemporary texts, some by key British authors and poets through the ages, others from exciting new voices covering different backgrounds and experiences. Non-fiction texts and multi-media texts are an important aspect of our curriculum too, including mixed media approaches using technology. Throughout their learning in English, our pupils have the opportunities to connect, consolidate and reinforce their Reading and Writing skills within a broad and balanced yet purposeful curriculum. A striking feature of West Acton is our diverse community not only in ethnicity but economically and emotionally.
We are very proud of the way our curriculum, especially our English curriculum, reinforces this unique feature of our school whilst developing pupils' understanding and consideration of their own lives and those of others.
The home-school partnership is sustained through homework, workshops for parents/carers and half termly letters going home in advance informing what the following half term’s text and focus will be. Pupils are expected to read daily and practise spellings. Resources are sent home at key points during the year to support this. Monitoring of the completion of these tasks is done through assessing the progress children are making in their learning and if the parents/carers are signing the Reading record book. In addition, we have provided a set of CGP books and spelling book for each child. We also provide access to Espresso, an on-line learning resource full of reading-related activities, film-clips and other useful on-line tools as described earlier.
In Nursery and Reception pupils are given the opportunities to write during their independent learning time by having access to a range of writing materials both in the indoor and outdoor classroom. Reception are also explicitly taught in small groups through focussed teaching sessions with the teacher and/or nursery nurse and throughout the year are exposed to many different genres and write lists, facts, stories, poems and recounts.
In Years 1 to 6, through the school’s medium term plans, based on the National Curriculum, pupils are given opportunities to write in a wide range of genres and become familiar with the features of each e.g. narrative stories, writing in role and discursive and persuasive writing. Pupils also explore poetry at different points across the year with a focus on creating and performing poetry. Teachers use a range of strategies including talk for writing, modelled and shared writing, planning, drafting and editing.
Pupils are given opportunities to evaluate and reflect on their own work in order that they may develop their own sense of achievement. Pupils are expected to produce one long piece of writing per week. Teachers give clear feedback to pupils so they know how to improve and what they did well. In KS1 and KS2 planning includes grammar and punctuation focuses for each week.
- Grammar and punctuation skills are linked to the text type being taught so that skills can be embedded and applied through whole class teaching and in the children’s writing. Relevant websites are available on the school’s website for further research.
Each half term pupils produce an unaided piece of writing to support summative assessment – this is in a separate book, to show progress the book is started in Nursery that goes up with them as they move through the school.
Each year group has a set of ‘non-negotiables’ for their writing lessons, based around the objectives in the National Curriculum. These guidelines help the pupils to remember the skills that a child in their year group should be including in their writing independently at all times, as well as new skills they are learning. In this way, we scaffold children’s writing, supporting them in integrating all the age-appropriate features.
English writing lessons are based around a high quality book or books. This allows pupils to explore writing from a range of texts, to identify and then adapt and use the features in their own writing. Other extended pieces of writing may be generated from learning in other subjects such as Science, History, RE, PSHE or Geography such as recounts, reports or writing in role, or from trips and workshops.
West Acton subscribes to several high quality online resources for which a login is needed. Logins will be provided by your class teacher and are also available to request here.
Below are details of how each online resource specifically applies to writing.
Non-negotiable Writing Criteria
Other elements of the English Curriculum
We introduce children to new words in order to develop their writing further. In the teaching of both Reading and Writing, children are encouraged and supported to identify unknown words, to use their spelling strategies (e.g. about root words) and their inference skills along with a dictionary to help them define the words. Research shows that the best writers are familiar with a huge number of words, many descriptive but others such as nouns, verbs and academic words such as ‘evaluate’ or ‘apply’. We develop children’s acquisition of language in all subjects by a focus on vocabulary development across the curriculum.
Children are taught to use a simple cursive (joined) style as described in the National Curriculum for English. We are currently teaching the letter formations in the Nelson Handwriting scheme. In EYFS and KS1, the letters are written separately with a focus on size, spacing, letter formation and capitals where appropriate. In EYFS, children develop their use of a pencil through mark marking in play dough, sand etc.
Teachers model this handwriting in all their board work, written display work and in children’s books. Teachers teach correct pencil grip and posture for good handwriting, taking account of left-handed writers too. Children can be awarded a pen licence once the teacher feels they have reached a state of consistency in their joined writing. Where appropriate, use the joined-up font for writing on smart note-books and other resources. It is also beneficial for children to see adults writing too; use a cursive style when doing this.
The National Curriculum states ‘Pupils should be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and select the appropriate register for effective communication. They should be taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This will enable them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing’. Teachers provide opportunities for pupils to talk, both formally and informally within the classroom across the whole curriculum. Each unit of English will have at least one lesson which is dedicated to speaking and listening. I
Pupils should be taught to:
- listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
- ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
- use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
- articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
- give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
- maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
- use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
- speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
- participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
- gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
- consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
- select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.