At Handcross, we understand that reading and writing are entwined. We use rich, high quality texts as a stimulus for writing from which children can ‘magpie’ words and phrases. English lessons are creative, engaging and - where possible - multi-sensory, involving pictures and videos, drama techniques, themed days and / or hands-on experiences to inspire writing.
Writing opportunities are purposeful so that children know WHY they are writing and WHO they are writing for. Children have opportunity to experiment with writing different genres and styles of text, including narratives, non-fiction pieces and poetry. They are taught to ‘think like authors’ and are encouraged to take risks when making decisions about their work.
From an early age, children experience the whole writing ‘journey’ from planning, drafting, re-drafting (through proof-reading, revising and editing in collaboration with their teacher) and finally 'publishing' their piece.
Children complete high quality cross-curricular writing in foundation subjects, such as history, geography and computing and additional enrichment opportunities are available for children, including the chance to write for the school newspaper!'Handcross Times' Example (KS1)'Handcross Times' Example (KS2)
The Writing Revolution
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, we explored and adopted core principles from ‘The Writing Revolution’ (Hochman and Wexler, 2017) in order to develop children’s cohesion, clarity and stamina for writing. Children develop ‘building blocks’ of writing through explicit teaching of sentence and – later - paragraph construction.
We understand that to improve writing skills, practice must be specific, focused and taught in a careful sequence of small, logical steps and, as such, we have developed a progression document which outlines when specific objectives are introduced, although these continue to be revised and embedded in subsequent year groups.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
In the Infants, daily phonics lessons are taught using the Read, Write, Inc. programme. Children learn the 44 phonemes (sounds) of the English language, the corresponding graphemes (a letter or group of letters) and how to ‘segment’ words into sounds in order to spell them. You can find more information about phonics on the reading page of our website.
In the Juniors, children have discrete spelling and grammar lessons in which they learn and practise key skills needed for writing. Targeted phonics teaching is also provided for older children, as / when required.
All children also have access to 'Spelling Shed'; an effective and engaging interactive spelling programme. All children have a highly personalised account which they can log into at school and at home to play games designed to help them learn target spellings.
Celebrating Writing at Handcross
We plan special events throughout the year to celebrate and promote love of writing. These these include visits, talks and workshops with inspirational children's authors and illustrators, such as M.P.Robertson, Vashti Hardy, Miriam Moss, David Fuller, Hannah Peckham, Sue Hendra and Paul Linett.
We were thrilled that Sue Hendra opened our amazing, new playground writing shed for us!
‘Superstar writer’ awards are regularly awarded to one child in each class to celebrate a high standard of writing which demonstrates creativity and authorial intent. The work of the winners is celebrated and shared in assembly. They receive a superstar writer pencil and their work and photo is displayed in the corridor to inspire others.
Throughout the year we hold 'Writing Days' in which children across the school engage with the same broad writing task. The days are designed to spark engagement and creativity and allow children to write an extended piece in just one day; they engage with the stimuli, explore, plan, write, redraft and even publish their piece all before home time! Here's what our children think about writing day:
"I woke up at 5am this morning because I was so excited to write!"
"My favourite day of Year 2 was writing day!"
"I feel really happy because I have so many ideas for my story and I get to share them."
We often tie the day to a competition or other external stimulus to excite the children, including special writing events run by MOTO. We were so proud of one of our most wonderful writers, past-pupil Odilja, who won a national story writing competition, earning her some wonderful prizes, including a workshop with the author Maria Farrer who came to school to announce her big win! Well done Odilja - we are so proud of you!