CEJA Vision for Writing
Our aim at Chapel End is to foster in the children a fascination with the written word. It begins with the passion that our teachers demonstrate for the language in every lesson. Enjoyable teaching and learning; high-quality texts; exploration and experimentation through creative writing, drama and enrichment activities: this (not exhaustive) list is what is on offer to the children as we continually seek ways in which to nurture a love of the language and how to write it.
At Chapel End, writing is not viewed in isolation. It is linked inextricably to reading; oracy; and spelling, grammar and punctuation. Its quality is supported and enhanced by these further dimensions of the National Curriculum’s English Programme of Study which we follow to plan an engaging writing experience that meets the age-related, broad and balanced requirements of the English curriculum.
Not only do we consider all the dimensions of the curriculum when designing English lessons that ensure our students meet end-of-year expectations, we additionally insure that our writing curriculum intent offers our students the opportunity to mine and capitalise upon the information they learn daily across the wide spectrum of topics and themes taught. This puts at their fingertips the knowledge and information required to generate ideas for creative writing in English lessons. This approach augments recognition of the links between different areas of learning, and how one can impact upon and enhance another. Furthermore, language is acquired in one domain and transferred for use in another – a key driver in broadening the pupils’ lexicon and encouraging versatility of vocabulary choice. A history unit on the Ancient Egyptians, for example, will directly feed into a newspaper article on Howard Carter’s famous discovery or the imaginary theft of an ancient artefact from the British Museum. Trips, visits and enrichment projects linked to this topic learning will provide further inspiration for writing. In this way, children develop the skills to write widely and coherently, adapting their language for a range of contexts. All areas and routes into learning are exploited for their potential as stimuli for writing; learning is reinforced as well as memorable.
At Chapel End we follow a Talk for Writing (Pie Corbett) approach to empower our children as writers. This approach has at its heart a focus on equipping children of all abilities with the vocabulary and sentence structures to create high quality texts by ‘talking’ them first.
Every unit begins with a hook: an experience, trip or stimulus which inspires the children to write, for example Year Three begin the year making horrible sandwiches which leads to a unit on instruction writing, while Year Six begin with a crime scene investigation leading to report writing and a ‘who-dunnit’ story.
Children then move on to ‘Imitation’ where they internalise a high-quality model text and analyse its structure and features. Children learn to recognise the typical language, sentence and structural features of this text type: this will enable them in their turn to write appropriately and, more importantly, convincingly for a range of purposes and audiences.
In the ‘Innovation’ stage, the children test out the features they have discovered through shared writing with guidance from the teacher to practise and hone competency in grammar and composition follow; at this stage, the teacher will work with the children individually to correct misconceptions, discuss writing choices and challenge them to seek ways to improve. Throughout the process, children are reminded to consider the reader when communicating their ideas; consequently, they learn to write with increasing clarity and awareness of audience. Regular teacher, self- and peer assessment offer feedback for evaluating the impact of their writing.
The final stage of the cycle sees our budding writers striving to produce an independent composition that demonstrates what they have learned of the course of the unit. This leads to a final published piece which the children are proud of.
At Chapel End, we are determined that every child should be excited about writing and so seek to provide enrichment opportunities to instil this enthusiasm and enhance engagement in the students. One-off events, competitions and ongoing initiatives aim to maintain writing’s profile in the school. The following are a few past and present provided as part of our enrichment of the English curriculum:
- storytelling workshops – to celebrate Roald Dahl Day and ‘write in the style of’
- author days – to experience a professional writing master class
- poetry workshop – to challenge the more able writer
- Young Writers poetry and creative writing competitions – to represent the school in print
- Wicked Young Writer Awards – to excite pupils’ authorial ambitions
- Shakespeare Week – to celebrate English culture during this national event
- Writing Wall of Fame – to showcase pupils’ best work
- Spelling Bee competition – to raise the profile of spelling
- Grammar Focus of the Week – to raise the profile of grammar
- school newsletter – to take on the role of journalist
- a Writing Council – to ensure pupil voice is heard in the curriculum intent, implementation and impact of writing at Chapel End
Professional development and training of teachers
Specialist training ensures that our teachers are fully equipped with the knowledge, skills and current research on the teaching of English writing to confidently and accurately support the children in meeting and surpassing statutory age-related and personal expectations, whatever the needs of the pupil (SEND, EAL or G&T). To ensure consistently high standards across the school, all teachers have the opportunity to learn from each other and share best practice, with time allocated for mentoring and collaborative planning.
Several of our teachers are qualified as borough moderators and use their specialist knowledge of what good writing looks like to assess and level writing in other schools. This expertise is shared during intra- and inter-school moderation exercises to quality-assure the writing at our school. We have a specialist English teacher who teaches writing for the more able, provides support and training for EAL and G&T provision across our curriculum, and delivers training for teachers within the academy trust.