Teaching Writing in KS1
‘Good literacy skills provide us with the building blocks not just for academic success, but for fulfilling careers and rewarding lives’
The leadership team at Crossley Hall firmly believe that we are only able to judge what is likely to work in the future by monitoring success (and failure) of current strategies – and acting quickly and decisively on our findings. Our strategy for teaching writing in KS1 has been developed by the leadership team with the support of ‘teaching’ teachers as well as our chosen literacy consultant Alison Philipson (currently a KS1 and KS2 moderator for the LA and a Deputy Team Standardisation Leader for The Standards & Testing Agency) and is – perhaps most crucially – supported by evidence taken from EEF research and guidance.
The strategy for teaching writing in KS1 focuses particularly on three of the key recommendations from studies made into improving literacy in Key Stage 1 by the Education Endowment Foundation (although all points are included in some form). These three key recommendations have been chosen following the monitoring of educational attainment of pupils in order to create an evidence-informed strategy to improve outcomes.
1: ‘Developing pupils’ speaking and listening skills and wider understanding of language’
The planning of writing lessons focuses on teachers reading texts (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) aloud every single day and pupils being encouraged to have conversations about them, along with activities which extend pupils’ spoken and receptive vocabulary. Both the teaching of vocabulary and opportunities to model and extend children’s language are included in every writing lesson. Teachers will work with children to be able to clearly articulate what they are going to say in their writing by rehearsing and ‘holding’ sentences before recording.
2: ‘Effectively implementing a systematic phonics programme’
Leaders at Crossley Hall recognise that phonics helps children know which letters to use when they are writing words. Following the DfE revised criteria in 2021 for teaching Phonics (updated in July 2022), school leaders chose Read Write Inc as our preferred programme. In order to ensure Crossley Hall takes an approach that is ‘rigorous, systematic, used with fidelity and achieves strong results’, all staff have received training in order to gain the necessary pedagogical skills and content knowledge. Research shows that ‘The teaching of phonics should be explicit and systematic to support children in making connections between the sound patterns they hear in words and the way that these words are written’: therefore Read Write Inc phonics resources are used to support writing throughout Key Stage 1
3: ‘Promote fluent written transcription skills by encouraging extensive and effective practice and explicitly teaching spelling’
The physical processes of handwriting and spelling are recognised as an area of focus in Key Stage 1 through an extensive programme of moderation both across and within our school. Leaders recognise that where children have to concentrate to ensure their transcription is accurate, they are less able to think about the content of their writing: therefore, fluency must be built to the point that they become automated. A lengthy amount of practice, supported by consistent and effective feedback is required to develop fluency. The planning of writing lessons is based around building this skill through writing sentences which are copied, then dictated, and finally independently constructed – always supported by an adult. The teaching of spellings is focused on and relevant to the topic being studied in order to make learning relevant and have a clear purpose.