At Alkrington Primary School, we are passionate about equipping our children for life outside of school. We see writing as a crucial skill going forward in life that will allow students to access opportunities that they would otherwise be excluded from. Writing is a way to connect with people; to present opinions and to captivate your reader and we weave this in through each and every year group. Our aim is to enthuse children about all aspects of writing through real life experiences; engaging, high-quality texts and real-life writing opportunities. The wide range of complex writing skills that we teach are a means to an end: without technical accuracy, you cannot clearly express yourself, whether in a creative story or in a job application. We also intend to create thoughtful writers, who reflect on their writing - both the strengths and areas for improvement - and who are able to edit and improve for purpose.
In order to help us develop enthusiastic and technically skilled writers, our teaching follows a ‘Learning Journey’ approach, which combines grammar skills, writing skills, vocabulary skills and practice writes before children reach the end piece of writing. Skills taught each unit are carefully planned to support the writing of each genre and children build on their learning year on year. We have a genre spine that ensures that children are given the opportunity to practice genres multiple times across their time at Alkrington Primary School, as well as ensuring that they are exposed to a wide range of texts. Teaching units are often based around high-quality texts (such as Frankenstein, Heidi, Hound of the Baskervilles and The Tunnel, to name but a few), which allow children to experience high-level language and storytelling.
In terms of building technical fluency, we have a number of bespoke schemes that we have created to suit our children. Our grammar spine ensures that all year groups begin by revisiting prior year group targets as part of our whole school focus on retrieval practice. Grammar is contextualised through Literacy teaching, with discreet lessons being taught if needed. Each lesson begins with a quick grammar starter grid where children revisit previously taught objectives to further embed them. Our sentence menu links in with our grammar spine but focuses more specifically on sentence types (such as short, snappy sentences to build tension or deliberate repetition to hook the reader) that will give them a greater range to choose from when writing their final pieces. Our KS2 spelling scheme teaches children where they are at - not just where they are supposed to be according to the curriculum - and focuses on learning the rules so that they can be applied to wider words. This has shown accelerated progress for struggling spellers and has deeply embedded spelling skills across all year groups. We are also currently in the process of creating a vocabulary spine that will teach Tier 2 words from Nursery onwards, which will broaden children’s vocabulary.
Pupils make good progress both within years and across key stages. They have opportunities to show their capabilities both at National Expected Standard and at Greater Depth. They know how to write in a deliberate and considered way, and can adapt the vocabulary, grammatical structures and sentences they choose to reflect their audience and purpose that they need to. They can reflect on their work, making the changes they need - or want - to make to improve it. Children build cultural capital when they access texts from significant authors like Shakespeare and Jane Austen, as well as learning more about their own and others’ historical context.
Alkrington Primary School students are confident, technical and creative writers who enjoy English lessons and are proud of their writing. By the time they leave us, they are ready to tackle writing in the rest of their education and have a strong foundation for life beyond that as well.