At Heather Garth Primary Academy we want all pupils to be enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. We aim to develop pupils who have the stamina and ability to write at the age expected standard and who can transfer their English skills to other curriculum subjects and who are prepared for the next steps in their education.
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 primary 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.
We believe that a quality Literacy (English) curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often, “magpieing” the skills of quality authors. We provide opportunities for writing for purpose and we encourage pupils to see themselves as authors. We promote the status of written work by providing opportunities for children’s writing to be “published” as well as displayed throughout school- to celebrate achievements. Handwriting sessions are incorporated into English lessons.
We encourage our pupils to think and write creatively, be adventurous- experimenting with their use and choice of language and to write with clear purpose and for pleasure. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts.
Early English, alongside effective teaching of systematic synthetic phonics, focuses on the key elements of: word reading, spelling, pencil grip and letter formation. Oral comprehension and composition are also key components during this stage to help children develop language and communication skills which will later help them when they come to written composition.
Our writing approach incorporates best-practice models and recent case studies. As a result, we have recently adopted "The Write Stuff" by Jane Considine to bring clarity to the mechanics of writing. "The Write Stuff” ensures consistency of approach and progression throughout school. It follows a method called "Sentence Stacking" which refers to the fact that sentences are stacked together chronologically and organised to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can then immediately apply to their own writing. An individual lesson is based on a sentence model, broken in to 3 learning chunks. Each learning chunk has three sections:
- Initiate section – a stimulus to capture the children’s imagination and set up a sentence
- Model section – the teacher close models a sentence that outlines clear writing features and techniques.
- Enable section – the children write their sentence, following the model.
Children are challenged to ‘Deepen the Moment’ which requires them to independently draw upon previously learnt skills and apply them to their writing during that chunk.
The approach provides the children with a stimulating and language rich writing environment surrounded by print in a variety of forms and contexts. Jane Considine units are based around high quality, age appropriate texts. Units teach a full range of writing strategies, including spelling, grammar, sentence structure and composition.
"The Write Stuff" uses three essential components to support children in becoming great writers
The three zones of writing :-
- IDEAS - The FANTASTICs uses a child friendly acronym to represent the nine idea lenses through which children can craft their ideas.
- TOOLS - The GRAMMARISTICS. The grammar rules of our language system and an accessible way to target weaknesses in pupils grammatical and linguistic structures.
- TECHNIQUES - The BOOMTASTICs which helps children capture 10 ways of adding drama and poetic devices to writing in a vivid visual.
Children then apply all the taught and modelled skills to independent writing tasks. Following independent writing, children are encouraged to find and correct errors, using their purple “polishing pens” to make their amendments.
Children who can spell feel confident and are able to write with enjoyment. We want our pupils to be equipped with the knowledge and range of strategies for learning spelling and to be able to apply their strategies when spelling words in their independent writing. Each class has taught weekly spelling sessions and assessments of key spelling patterns informed by the national curriculum. As well as being taught through the wider curriculum, Common Exception Word lists are set for homework, with guidance on a range of strategies shared with parents to support home help.
In the academic Year 2021-2022, Years 2 and 6 will be trailing the new Jane Considine approach to spelling. The impact of this will be assessed and, if successful, will be implemented across the school.
Pupils will make good progress from their own personal starting points. By the end of Year Six they will be able to write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Our pupils will acquire a wide vocabulary and have a strong command of the written word. Most importantly, they will develop a love of writing and be well equipped for the rest of their education.
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