What do we want to achieve? (Our Intent)
At The Oaktree School we recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately, and can adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and use discussion to communicate and further their learning. We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in Literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the curriculum. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
These aims are embedded across our literacy lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and the development of children’s Oracy. Teachers adapt planning as appropriate to their class, but also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent topic work are woven into the programme of study. Our curriculum closely follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 and Spoken Language which underpins the development of reading and writing.
The national curriculum for Spoken Language aims to ensure that all pupils:
- 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, hypothesizing, 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
The national curriculum for Writing aims to ensure that all pupils:
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
What Do We Do? (Our implementation)
Planning - Talk for Writing
The Talk for Writing approach enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects. A key feature is that children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’ as well as close reading. The approach moves from dependence towards independence with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully.
At The Oaktree School we choose quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction text so that all children’s experiences can be drawn upon. Through imitation the children get to know the text and as they grow more confident of the story structure they adapt to their own interests.
To ensure a consistent and progressive approach we use the online resource letter join. Children are explicitly taught the skill of handwriting four times each week. The children use handwriting books to record and practise their handwriting. Across the school, handwriting is carefully modelled by the teacher in all lessons. The use of patterns and consistent language to support letter formation and appropriate letter-joins is also embedded enabling children to also further develop their fine motor skills. High expectations are communicated as part of the ‘five finger check’ for all writing activities. A high standard of presentation is always encouraged and expected in children’s written work across the wider curriculum. Teachers ensure that children are concentrating on ‘the 3 ‘P’s’ during handwriting sessions.
These are –
- Paper: the paper children write on should be angled slightly away from the writing hand.
- Posture: sitting up straight, both feet on the floor, adequate desk space.
- Pencil grip: tripod grip is the most efficient way of holding a pencil (held lightly between thumb and
forefinger, about 3cm from the point with the middle finger providing additional support).
At The Oaktree School spellings are taught using a whole class approach. High frequency words have been grouped to form ‘houses’ which have been further grouped to former ‘streets’. There are eight spelling houses in the blue street and eight spelling houses in the red street. Individual houses are taught over a period of a week or two depending on the children’s stage of learning. The focus house is displayed within the classroom so that children are able to refer to it in their writing. Words on the focus house are ‘quizzed’ weekly or bi-weekly and form part of the non-negotiable five finger check.
The Wider Curriculum
Children are exposed to a range of different opportunities and experiences to excite, inspire and engage them in their writing across the curriculum. For example, in Year 2 the children get to spend a morning with Florence Nightingale. They are able to think about what it would have been like to be a child who was alive when Florence Nightingale was. They experience the noises they might have heard and also the living conditions that children were exposed to.