“Learning to write is one of the most important things that a child at primary school will learn. Children use their writing in almost all other subjects of the curriculum. Good writing also gives children a voice to share their ideas with the world.
For a child, learning to write can be a tricky business, not least because good writing involves handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation not to mention what we want to write and who we are writing for.” – Oxford Owl
As a school, we use the Cornerstones Curriculum to deliver our lessons for all subjects. This is a knowledge based curriculum which takes the requirements of the National Curriculum and breaks it into various projects for each year group.
“Every project features a weekly English plan that develops over the course of a week giving you [teachers] a head start to plan for more detailed group activities. As well as that, Literacy is integral to all subjects, giving children the opportunity to use their reading, writing and language skills across the curriculum.”
We also use the Pie Corbett, Talk for Writing, approach to teaching writing which fits in well with the Cornerstones Curriculum. It ensures children develop the language they will need to imitate the different text types through spoken language activities before moving on to innovating and then writing their own versions of a genre.
“Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett, supported by Julia Strong, is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.” – Talk4Writing
At DBCPS we want our children to develop a neat, fluent handwriting script therefore as soon as they have learnt to print each letter of the alphabet using the correct formation, ideally by the end of the Early Years, we introduce the continuous cursive script. There are many advantages to learning this style of handwriting including:
- As Continuous Cursive letters naturally join, children only have to learn this one font for lower case handwriting.
- Continuous Cursive letters flow rhythmically from left to right, aiding the speed and fluidity of the writing.
- The starting and finishing points for all Continuous Cursive letters are easier to remember (they all start on the line and, other than a few exceptions, all finish on the line), which can be especially helpful for children with specific learning difficulties.
- Teaching Continuous Cursive letters in family groups reinforces the shapes and directional pushes and pulls of the pencil needed to handwrite and can limit letter reversal issues, such as b & d.
- The transition to joined writing is simple and occurs sooner, allowing children to concentrate on the composition of the writing, because they no longer have to think about how to form the letters.
- Words are written in one set of movements, without the pen being taken off the paper, helping the motor memory store spellings. This is especially important for those irregular spellings which so many children find hard to commit to memory.
Below is an example of each letter of the alphabet so you can see the style of each letter:
When assessing the quality of a child’s handwriting we look for the following points:
- Correctly formed and orientated letters including lower and upper case letters and digits.
- Letters positioned correctly on the line with clear ascenders and descenders.
- Consistent size and spacing of letters and words.
- Joined fluent style.
As children develop their own handwriting style, they will naturally adapt their letter style. You can see this in the samples of handwriting from Reception to Year 6 below. These samples were taken from activities carried out during Literacy week. Children were challenged to do their best handwriting while copying out a choice of poems. The focus was purely on handwriting so you may spot one or two spelling errors and one piece isn’t quite finished.
Watch this video for tips on how to make handwriting fun from the Oxford Owl website.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation (SPAG)
The National Curriculum has broken down the spelling rules and common exception words that children need to learn in each year group. To build on the phonic knowledge children have learnt during their Read Write Inc. lessons in Reception and Year 1, we use the Read Write Inc. Spelling program. This matches the requirements of the National Curriculum and ensures children learn the different spelling rules in a fun way. Children are introduced to a rule through a video and then complete a variety of different activities throughout the week including identifying the different sounds or syllables in the words, adding suffixes or prefixes to create new words and playing games such as speed spelling.
Grammar and Punctuation
Children are taught grammar and punctuation through standalone lessons as well as during the main literacy lesson, in the context of the genre they are learning about. These lessons prepare the children for the SPAG test at the end of each Key Stage. More information about what grammar and punctuation each year group is expected to use and understand can be found in the Expected Writing documents at the bottom of this page.