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Our writing curriculum

Click on the buttons below to see writing overviews for each class and the engaging, vocabulary-rich books we use to inspire fantastic writing.

Rationale for teaching English writing

Please also see our rationales for teaching reading and phonics.

One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” Malala Yousafzai

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Dr. Seuss

I believe children's books change our lives more profoundly than any others. Because they come first, they shape us at the deepest levels, giving us ways to think about the world and our experiences of it, opening windows to other worlds, other experiences. They help us imagine the world differently, and that is how change begins.” S. F. Said

English in our own words

When we talk about reading, we say: “Reading grows our imagination and helps us understand the world.”

When we talk about phonics, we say: “Phonics gives us the tools to read and spell new words.”

When we talk about speaking and writing, we say: “Speaking and writing help us share our ideas and our emotions.”

It is impossible to overstate the value of an aspirational, high quality English curriculum. There is a wealth of research that demonstrates the disadvantages that pupils with a poor understanding of English face throughout their lives. Therefore, English at our school is about teaching all pupils to speak, read and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others. We love reading stories, telling stories, playing with stories and making up our own stories, and we do this with non-fiction texts too. We actively share our love of books and our enthusiasm for reading because reading gives pupils the chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. We also believe that reading can support our wider curriculum because reading can enable pupils to acquire the subject knowledge, vocabulary and ideas necessary to thrive in different subjects. In other words, we learn to read but we also read to learn.

How do you teach writing?

“When I was five my father gave me a fat navy blue book called ‘The Book of A Thousand Poems’ which I still have. I used to go round reciting them, and a bit later started making up some of my own.” Julia Donaldson

We place great emphasis on talk in our teaching of writing and believe that, “If you can’t say it, you can’t write it.In other words, if you don’t know any stories and you can’t retell a story, it would be difficult to write a story.

We teach writing in three stages. Each writing unit begins with a high quality stimulus. These stimuli are varied and include magical fiction texts (for example ‘Beegu’ in Year 1); traditional stories from other cultures (for example ‘The Dragon of Krakow’ in Year 3); modern information texts linked to the wider curriculum (for example ‘Wilderness’ in Year 2), media from our local area (‘A guide to the i360’ in Year 4) or poetry from other cultures (for example ‘Mother to Son’ by Langston Hughes in Year 6). Our pupils explore these texts through performance, drama and reading comprehension activities. Crucially, we teach children to celebrate new vocabulary. We love to ‘notice’ new words and phrases and reuse them in different contexts.

Next, we apply our learning from the stimulus playfully in our own writing. Pupils may look closely at a sentence structure from the stimulus and learn about grammar. Using these new grammar skills, children can create new versions of that sentence. Similarly, they may take the structure of a paragraph or even the whole text and use it to help them organise their own ideas. Through using the patterns and exciting new vocabulary from the stimulus, our pupils learn about the many possible ways that language can be organised.

Finally, armed with new knowledge and skills from the first two stages, our pupils are empowered to plan and create new texts of their own. By ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’, we open the door to creativity. Our pupils also use the knowledge and skills gained in English lessons to produce writing in other curriculum areas.

What principles underpin our writing curriculum?

Whilst developing the long-term planning for our writing curriculum, we kept the following principles in mind:

  • a quality stimulus (usually an engaging, vocabulary-rich book, a school trip or a short film) drives every unit
  • across the school there are writing projects that celebrate other countries and cultures
  • every year group revisits knowledge and skills taught previously so that knowledge and skills are taught more than once
  • every year group has a balance of poetry, fiction and non-fiction units
  • every year group has cross-curricular writing opportunities that link to a wider curriculum focus
  • every year group has a chance to perform and share their writing with a variety of audiences
  • across the school there are units that focus on environmental issues

These principles are evident in our ’Whole School Writing Overview', which maps all of our writing units across the school, including the stimulus for each unit, the purpose and audience for our pupils’ writing and the progression of key knowledge and skills.

How is our writing curriculum structured?

Across each term, children experience a sequence of carefully planned poetry units, fiction units and non-fiction units.

What about handwriting?

We support children by directly teaching handwriting and using books with line guides, for as long as children need them. We have found this to have a dramatic impact on the quality of handwriting across the school.

We use a scheme called 'Teach Handwriting' to ensure that we logically and progressively help children develop a comfortable, speedy, fluid and legible handwriting style. This scheme follows a progression from print to cursive to full joining.

Can I find out more about how writing is taught at Carlton Hill Primary School?

Yes! There is a detailed description of our approach to teaching English in our Teaching and Learning Policy, which is available on the school website. You can also email us at this address: admin@carltonhill.brighton-hove.sch.uk

There is a also wealth of information here on our school website - just click on the year group links at the top of this page,

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Artwork created by Year 5 pupils during the 'Beowulf' writing unit.

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