At Suffolks we see ourselves as a community of writers. By this we mean that all stakeholders: children, staff, families, the local community and others from national and international platforms, have a vested interest in our children doing the very best they can in writing so they are highly capable writers now and for the future.
Our approach adapts several writing initiatives we consider to be the very best into the ‘Suffolks way’ to suit the specific and changing needs of our school.
Our approach is structured so that writing emerges developmentally. We emphasise a broad whole-school curriculum that feeds knowledge and imagination. We centre our approach on enabling children to view their own thoughts, ideas and opinions as unique, as valued, and as important reasons to expressively mark-make, paint and write.
Children learn about sounds, including phonics, based mainly on the RWI model. Within EYFS and Phase One we set dedicated time each day to teaching these. The children are also taught to write the spellings they learn (including common exception words and specific words for each year group). Teachers carefully model writing so that the sounds and spellings the children learn are understood within the wider context of writing.
Within EYFS, we provide experiences for children to build hand strength so they can hold implements confidently. As this improves we introduce the Nelson handwriting font, which is used throughout the school. We expect the children to form letters correctly and efficiently. Pen licences are given to children in Year 3 and 4 if they show the appropriate skills at joining correctly and neatly. Writing in pen from Year 5 onwards is our expectation.
We adopt some Talk for Writing strategies to our approach because we consider this to be highly effective in building writing excellence. Children explore how other writers use writing conventions to reach their audience, and we encourage children to consider these in their own writing. Children imitate different texts so that patterns of language are rehearsed and used. From this children are able to innovate by changing aspects of a familiar text, often using story maps as a guide. We provide meaningful opportunities for the children to independently apply these skills to their own writing efforts.
We set units of work with a clear audience in mind. Children are explicitly taught the features an audience would expect to see when they read their writing. Within our ‘writing community’ we utilise the interests of our staff so they become important audience members, able to give important feedback to children so they know how to improve. We also subscribe to Pobble, an online writing platform that publishes children’s writing. We often use this to provide examples of writing standards to our children.
At Suffolks, we try to link our core texts to other curriculum areas. This enables our children to utilise the vocabulary learnt from foundation subjects and apply them in their writing. Diversity within Literacy is our priority as we are continuously striving to expose children to texts with characters from ethnic minority backgrounds in a variety of social positions. We discuss 'unconscious bias' when studying a character or story plot and ensure that children are able to view and appreciate their social situation within society at a given time.