Spelling, Handwriting and Composition – These strands go hand in hand throughout the Curriculum. As they mature, children develop a growing ability to write in different styles, for different audiences and purposes, e.g. stories, diaries, letters, invitations, captions, posters, plans, reporting on projects and poetry. Cohesively planned, modelled and implemented by all staff, writing genres and conventions are creatively developed throughout both key stages. Emphasis is laid upon drafting, as a process to encourage children to improve the construction, spelling and layout of their written work. All classes have access to computers, which are also used to develop the children’s writing. Much of their writing is developed from the use of high quality literature, as the children respond to plot, character, illustration and ideas. Children are explicitly taught tier 2 vocabulary during the writing process to enhance their spoken and written vocabulary. The tier 2 vocabulary is always displayed in classrooms to refer to during teaching. Tier 3 vocabulary linked to topics is also displayed as cross-curricular writing plays an integral part of how English is taught at St. John’s. Vocabulary is at the centre of both the English and wider curriculum to overcome the barriers of learning for children at our school.
They are taught the rudiments of grammar, progressively from Reception through to Year 6, both discretely, as well as in the context of the literature they are studying. Attention to grammatical rules being studied are also noted as they are encountered in all areas of the curriculum. We use a variety of Alan Peat sentence types which are planned out for each year group, allowing children to build up a bank of complex sentence structures as they move through school. Children are taught continuous cursive handwriting by learning the different letter families from year 1. In reception, children learn to form letters when learning phonics and during writing focused activities. We have seen pleasing improvements in the presentation and cursive writing skills across the whole school.
The teaching of spelling is enhanced by the ‘No Nonsense Spelling Scheme’. The scheme is taught daily in year 2 and three times a week in KS2. The scheme gives children the opportunity to learn a spelling pattern, practise it, apply it and revisit it. We constantly strive to create a variety of spelling activities, which are visual, auditory and engaging for the children. Our aim, over time is to ensure our children become accomplished, proficient spellers.
Once children have written independently, they are always given the opportunity to be the first marker of their work. They also mark collaboratively with peers in KS2 and are taught how to edit and improve effectively.