We encourage children to write from an early age in a variety of ways using a multi-sensory, mark-making approach: painting; drawing letters and shapes in sand, salt, flour, foam and other mediums; using felt pens on large sheets of paper; chalks on the ground outside and any child initiated mark-making possibilities.
Children progress to using whiteboards and pens to practise individual letter formation in line with the phonics programme - representing phonemes with graphemes from the early days in Reception. From Nursery we seek to identify a child’s preferred grip and intervention is put in place where there is difficulty or fine motor skill challenges. These skills then support children in developing their independent writing of simple sentences which can be read to themselves and others. Emergent writing is celebrated with opportunities provided for writing for a purpose. This approach continues up through the school with writing linked to the wider curriculum and a range of stimuli including quality literature.
From Reception, we use "The Write Stuff" approach by Jane Considine to bring clarity to the mechanics of writing and immersing our children in new vocabulary. "The Write Stuff" 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 into 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 closely 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 draw upon previously learnt skills independently and apply them to their writing during that chunk.
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 elements to be improved 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.
Handwriting is a basic skill that influences the quality of work throughout the curriculum. At the end of Key Stage 2 all pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy joined-up handwriting, and to understand the different forms of handwriting used for different purposes.
At Longvernal Primary School we use Penpals for Handwriting, which is a complete handwriting scheme for 3–11 year olds that offers clear progression through five developmental stages: physical preparation for handwriting; securing correct letter formation; beginning to join along, securing the joins and practising speed, fluency and developing a personal style. Penpals is focused on whole-class teaching using digital resources to enable modelling and interactive learning, along with Practice Books and Workbooks to support independent work. The Foundation content is in line with the EYFS Framework and the Year 1–6 content supports frequent, discrete and direct teaching of handwriting for 5–11 year olds, as required by National Curriculum 2014.
From Year 1, children are taught to use a pre-cursive font to enable them to progress smoothly to cursive. Individual needs are catered for with regard to fine motor skill support and teachers are aware of individual pupil’s preferred pencil grip and whether they are right or left-handed.
We aim to make handwriting an automatic process that does not interfere with creative and mental thinking.
Click here to view a useful parents' guide to our Penpal handwriting scheme.
To help children learn and improve their spellings we use Read Write Inc Spelling, which complements our phonics programme until the end of Key Stage 1. In a series of discrete 15-minute lessons, pupils are introduced to spelling rules in line with the Key Stage 1 curriculum. In Key Stage 2, phonics remains central to the No Nonsense Spelling, which is taught three times weekly. At the point of writing, this approach encourages children to apply spelling, with their best attempt, using the Speed Sound Chart. To aid this they use a ‘Have a Go’ Sheet, allowing them three attempts using phonetically plausible variations. They choose the spelling they think is correct and underline it in their work, checking with a dictionary at a time that does not interrupt their creative flow. Children’s individual spellings include ‘cued’ spellings from their personal errors, curriculum words, common exception words and words from the statutory word list for their year group. We no longer set 10 spellings a week, aiming instead for fewer words but with the aim of children embedding these in their long term memory and applying them to their writing.