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Coley Primary School – How do we teach writing?


The teaching of writing forms part of our English Curriculum. We aim to promote high standards of writing through clear progressive planning and effective teaching ensuring curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met. By the end of Year 6 we intend for our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly, creatively and powerfully through the written word.


We want children to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and punctuation and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling rules and patterns they learn. We want them to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences within different subjects.


We believe that all children should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a good, joined, handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school. We believe that all good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so we want our children to develop independence in being able to re-read, identify their own areas for improvement and edit their work effectively during and after the writing process.

In reading, we aim for children to be confident, critical and appreciative readers who are able to make their own choices about what they read and develop a love for reading. To be a writer, children need to be able to decide what they want to write and have opportunities to create their own writing tasks and write about their interests and lives, creating stories, poems and informative writing for themselves.



At Coley Primary School, children learn to write through Talk for Writing (T4W). Children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’, as well as close reading. The approach moves from dependence towards independence, with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the children’s ability to produce well-structured detailed writing for a range of purposes, with appropriate detail, in which the meaning is clear and which engages the reader. Children move from imitation to innovation to independent application and this can be adapted to suit the needs of any learners at any stage.


Throughout the school, during daily English lessons, children are immersed in ‘Talk for Writing’ allowing children to draw upon a bank of texts and language models, to support their own writing. In this approach, there is a strong link between reading and writing. Writing is taught using a quality text. Each text is purposefully selected in order to ensure progression, promote a love of reading, generate rich written outcomes and teach the key knowledge and skills that children need to be successful writers. Alongside this we have established a reading spine of quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction that all children experience and can draw upon.


The key phases of the Talk for Writing process, enable children to imitate orally the language they need for a particular topic, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version:


  1. Baseline assessment - Teachers use what is known as a ‘cold’ task. The aim of this is to see what the children can do independently at the start of a unit, drawing on their prior learning. Assessment of their writing helps the teacher work out what to teach the whole class, different groups and adapt the model text and plan. Targets can then be set for individual children.
  2. Imitation – teaching begins with some sort of creative ‘hook’ which engages the children. The model text is pitched well above the pupils’ level and has built into it the underlying, transferable structures and language patterns that children will need when they are writing. This is learned using a ‘text map’ and actions to strengthen memory and help children internalise the text. As the children learn the text word for word, they build up a bank of interesting vocabulary, phrases and different plot structures which they can use in their own writing Activities such as drama are used to deepen understanding of the text. The model text and other examples, are then read for vocabulary and comprehension, before being analysed for the basic text (boxing up) and language patterns, as well as writing toolkits. This phase is underpinned by rehearsing key spellings and grammatical patterns. Short-burst writing is used to practise key focuses such as description, persuasion or scientific explanation.
  3. Innovation – using the model to produce own pieces of writing with some scaffolding. Once the story is learnt, children are encouraged to adapt it to create their own versions. At this stage the children produce a class story or their own story and the teacher leads children through the planning. They might start by just changing a character in KS1 or it might involve telling the story from another point of view for older children in KS2. They make basic changes to the story map in KS1 and create ‘boxing-up plans’ in KS2. Children rehearse their innovated story orally then write out the story in manageable sections and receive feedback from their teacher and peers. This allows children to respond to any feedback before moving onto the next section. This supportive and structured approach allows children to gain confidence and know what they to do to improve.
  4. Independent application and Invention – creating new texts of a similar style but for different audiences or purposes. Children use all the skills they have learnt and practised to write an independent piece. There is the freedom to draw upon their own ideas and experiences, or they can ‘hug closely’ to the shared text should they need to. The invention phase is when children have time for their own writing. Teachers may provide a stimulus such as a film clip, interesting object, drama, wordless picture book, work of art, music, visitor or visit as a starting point but the children decide what and how to write. In EYFS, children should be playing at making up stories daily, acting stories out and at least once a week be led by the teacher through making up class stories for future sharing.
  5. Assessment - at the end of the unit, children complete a ‘hot’ task which is an independent task on a similar type of writing with an interesting stimulus. Progress should be evident which encourages children and helps us as a school track the impact of teaching.


Children are explicitly taught how to write specific story types (e.g. warning story) and how to create different effects (e.g. suspense) in their writing. Children across all key stages are given daily opportunities to write in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes across the curriculum.


A variety of strategies are used in order to meet the needs of all learners. During Innovation and Invention, the most prominent strategies seen include shared writing (whole class) and guided writing (groups). Teachers act as expert models of the writing process in shared writing sessions. Attention is paid to the formal structures of English, grammatical detail, punctuation and spelling. Guided writing sessions are used to target specific needs of both groups and individuals, whilst children have opportunities to write at length in extended writing sessions.


Throughout the writing process, children are expected to edit and improve their work through: self-assessment; peer-assessment; marking and feedback.


The children are given frequent opportunities in school to write for a wide variety of reasons and purposes across the curriculum. This may be linked to History (e.g. The Great Fire of London) and EYFS provide many opportunities for child-initiated and role-play writing.



‘Nelson’ Handwriting is used in school to help children develop fluent, clear and legible joined up writing. EYFS provide a range of experiences which focus on hand-eye co-ordination, gross and fine motor skills in order to develop the control necessary for mark making using a variety of resources. This leads to the more formal teaching of letter formation. In Reception and Year 1 letter formation and handwriting form part of the phonic lesson. Each time a new sound is introduced, children are taught the correct formation. In Year 2, children are taught to join their handwriting. Throughout KS2, children are expected to join their handwriting and handwriting sessions are timetable to help children develop a confident, legible and personal style.


Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG)

The teaching of SPAG is carried out discretely in Years 1-6 to ensure the knowledge and skills required are taught clearly and explicitly. In addition to this, it is also embedded and emphasised through the teaching of reading and writing in English lessons and across all curriculum areas.


Spelling Overviews are used to create short and medium term plans for the teaching of spelling. They ensure spelling is progressive and meets both the statutory and non-statutory requirements in the National Curriculum.


Y1 and 2 - Each year group has a weekly set of words which follow objectives that are a statutory requirement and words from the Y1 or 2 non-statutory example words and their exceptions. The additional words and sets of words either reinforce the rule/pattern being taught; revise previously visited spelling rules from lower year groups; practise a spelling rule linked to a Y1 or Y2 statutory requirement or practise the common exception. Each set of spellings contains up to 10 words linked to the objective.


Y3 to Y6 – Each year group has a weekly set of words which are a statutory requirement and additional words are from the y3/4 or Y5/6 statutory spelling list.

The additional sets either: revise previously visited spelling rules from lower year groups; practise a spelling rule linked to a Y3/4 or Y5/Y6 statutory spelling word or relate to a word, sentence or punctuation objective from the English Appendix 2 of the NC 2014. Each set of spellings contains 10 -12 words linked to the objective.


Teaching grammatical skill and knowledge effectively within a Talk-for-Writing unit

  • use assessment to identify grammar skills needed in a unit (cold task)
  • ensure the model text includes these features and devise games that help the children see how it functions within meaningful text
  • introduce grammar through games and activities linked to text type and progress (warming-up)
  • demonstrate how to use grammar features in shared writing and investigate in shared reading (Build the grammar features you are focusing on into the modelled writing text to increase understanding of, and confidence in using, these features.
  • application – expect children to use the features in their own writing
  • help the children to discuss these features so that they can lead the discussion
  • use feedback to check on how effectively it was used and what you need to teach
  • build in progression across the years


In cross-curricular work, there is an expectation that grammar and punctuation skills will be demonstrated and taught concepts applied precisely and accurately. Speaking and listening activities in all subjects enable pupils to practise correct grammar in the form of recounting stories and information and constructing sentences effectively. This in turn will impact on children’s ability to write using correct punctuation and grammar and is intended to develop the ‘writing voice’ of all children throughout school.



At Coley Primary School, we want all children to enjoy writing across a range of genres, make links and apply their skills in other curricular areas. Children of all abilities will be able to succeed in English lessons because work will be appropriately scaffolded. They will have developed a wide vocabulary that they are able to use within their writing and will have a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing based on the context and audience. Children will leave school being able to effectively apply the spelling rules and patterns they have been taught.  Most importantly, we want them to develop a love of writing and be well equipped for secondary school and beyond.


We aim to ensure that our children's attainment and progress is in line or exceeds their potential when considering their varied starting points, always aiming for accelerated progress and ‘closing the gap’.  We want there to be no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of children, e.g. disadvantaged v non-disadvantaged. The % of children working at and above Age Related Expectations should meet targets set at the beginning of the year. We want our end of Key Stage data to be on an upward trend and be closer to, meet or even exceed national expectations.


We measure this using a range of formative and summative assessment procedures, whilst always considering the age-related expectations for each year group. Using these assessments, teachers can use children’s progress, addressing strengths and weaknesses, to plan lessons, interventions or targeted support so that children’s needs can be addressed, whilst providing challenge for all children. We use Target Tracker based on National Curriculum objectives to inform teachers and senior leaders of the knowledge and skills the children have achieved. Senior leaders closely monitor data, teaching and learning and hold Pupil Progress Meetings and Moderation Meetings to assess individual children’s needs.