Subject Leader: Dr Patmore

Curriculum Champions: Sienna, Lydia, Iyla-Rae, Evelyn & Merryn

What is it like to be a writer at Witham St Hughs Academy?

At Witham St Hughs Academy, the teaching of English is the foundation of our curriculum. Our main aim is to ensure that all children become competent in all aspects of literacy. English will be taught in a daily discrete lesson for all pupils; however the teaching and development of writing skills will also be embedded in other areas of the curriculum. By the time pupils leave the school, they will be expected to write clearly, accurately and coherently, for a variety of purposes and audiences, adapting their language and style as required. Both transcription skills and composition skills are equally important and will be taught effectively in a creative and engaging way. Children will be expected to take pride in their writing and present their work to a high standard. Through linked reading activities, children will be encouraged to develop an author’s voice and develop a sense of writing for pleasure.

How is writing planned?

Our writing curriculum is based upon the National Curriculum requirements. The long term plan structures the objectives around units which combine the reading of high quality texts with specific grammar teaching and opportunities for crafting pieces of writing. These units cover both narrative and non-narrative writing. Each unit is coherently planned and sequenced, leading to a final written outcome. Pupils will have the opportunity to plan, draft, revise, edit and publish their writing. Teachers will encourage children to see links between their reading and writing. Across the school, there is a focus on promoting the need to ‘write like an author’. Pupils also have regular opportunities to practise their writing skills by applying what they have learnt in writing sessions to their cross-curricular writing. 

Disciplinary and Substantive Knowledge

In writing, substantive knowledge is the ability to plan, draft, and construct writing for different purposes.  This involves knowledge of structural, grammatical and linguistic features as well as knowledge of handwriting and spellings. Through regular practice, this substantive knowledge becomes automatic and fluent, leading to mastery. In writing, disciplinary knowledge is the ability to evaluate and edit text and apply substantive knowledge to write effectively for a range of purposes.

How is writing taught at Witham St Hughs Academy?

To be successful writers, pupils need to master transcriptional skills quickly. Handwriting and letter formation, spelling and basic sentence construction are initially taught daily through the Read Write Inc programme.  While the youngest children are still mastering these basics, opportunities for oral storytelling and composition are planned regularly in EYFS. 

Once pupils have completed the RWI scheme, writing lessons are meticulously planned for each year group, covering grammar, sentence construction, spelling and composition. Pupils complete 4-5 units of work each term, covering poetry, narrative writing and non-narrative writing. At the heart of each unit will be core texts, linking pupils’ reading and writing and providing aspirational models for writing. Pupils will be taught to apply their grammatical knowledge and to consider their choice of style and authorial techniques. Specific grammar instruction takes place regularly, using the Active English programme from Y2-Y5. Both spelling sessions and handwriting practice are timetabled weekly. Pupils’ writing is assessed regularly against specific year group criteria, allowing teachers to plan the appropriate next steps.

What about experiences?

Alongside formal writing lessons, pupils have the opportunity to practise their skills across the curriculum. They are encouraged to enter writing competitions, both in school and local/national competitions. The Academy also offers a range of author visits, both face-to-face and virtual, to allow pupils to meet authors, ask questions and discover how writers work.

Where can I see writing around school?

You will see lots of writing on display in classrooms and in the corridor. Cross-curricular writing is evident on subject displays. ‘Write Like An Author’ display boards (alongside ‘Write Like An Author’ books in KS2) are prominent in classrooms to encourage pupils to be ambitious in their choice of vocabulary and authorial style.

Work beyond Witham

Staff from Witham St Hughs Academy are involved in promoting the Active English programme and open mornings are held regularly to demonstrate the scheme in action. 

As the lead school of the Witham St Hughs English Hub, the Academy regularly hosts visitors wishing to observe the use of Read Write Inc for the teaching of phonics, decoding and early writing.