At Roman hill we aim to ensure that every child leaves our school with the ability to produce well structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the reader. We aim to expose our children to a rich and diverse range of experiences and be challenged to deepen and apply their English skills and knowledge irrespective of their context or starting point.
This is achieved through our CUSP Writing curriculum by Unity Schools Partnership, which is deliberately designed to be ambitious and aspirational, ensuring that every child leaves our school as a competent, confident writing. CUSP is an evidence informed, carefully sequenced English curriculum. The careful architecture of this curriculum ensures that pupils build on prior learning and maximise purposeful curriculum connections to become writers for life.
The clear structure and principles of the CUSP curriculum ensure that teaching is progressive, challenging and engaging, ensuring that learning is taught and revisited over time so that pupils commit their understanding to the long-term memory. Expert subject knowledge is carefully woven into each Writing module, flexible lessons and blocks gives class teachers opportunities to apply their own creativity to cover the objectives stated in the National Curriculum and to teach and rehearse key knowledge and skills before applying this learning to meaningful extended outcomes.
To ensure consistency and high quality learning we connect and activate prior learning before explaining vocabulary, key concepts, and model texts. Then, through direct instruction teachers give an example of the task (I do), children attempt the task with guidance (We do), then children have an opportunity to apply the learning to an independent task (You do). All children are then given a challenge task to deepen understanding.
English skills are developed across the curriculum. Provision is made for children who require extra support through intervention programmes, targeted teaching groups and scaffolding approaches. This may be in the form of pre-teaching skills, paraphrasing and clarifying, adapting the text, reframing questions, reducing the demand or adapting the structure of lessons to reduce cognitive load. Scaffolding approaches include giving the least amount of help first; correcting, modelling, giving clues, and prompting. Classroom assistants support all children to achieve and become increasingly independent learners.
Adults across the school model a love of English by sharing stories daily, embedding the exploration of vocabulary and organising challenges and events that encourage children to take part consistently. Through discussion and exploration children can unlock skills of communication that have been modelled to them.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
Spelling and Grammar skills are taught both discretely and embedded within English lessons.
To be able to spell correctly is an essential life skill. When spelling becomes automatic, pupils are able to concentrate on the content of their writing and the making of meaning. Whilst we note that spelling is not the most important aspect of writing, confidence in spelling can have a profound effect on the writer’s creativity. We aim to use explicit, interactive teaching which draws children’s attention to the origins, structure and meaning of words.
Handwriting and Presentation
Handwriting is important at Roman Hill. Children need to create legible pieces of work and write at speed as an adult. We teach handwriting as a specific skill.
Our aim is to teach children correct letter formation, joining and good handwriting habits, so that they can write fluently and legibly and by the end of KS2 to begin to develop a distinctive style.
Handwriting should be taught in support of spelling practice and dictation exercises. Where there is a specific need, it can be taught discretely using the teachers own professional judgement.
At Roman Hill we encourage writing in all its forms, most crucially, writing with a purpose.
In EYFS communication and language underpins everything. If they haven’t got the words to say, they haven’t got the words to write. Children need a breadth and depth of language and the time and freedom to practice and revisit it, allowing children to be active independent learners.
In EYFS children learn to fall in love with writing and be confident in the core processes of writing. Children start with the physical skills needed for writing. Hand and finger strength, hand-eye coordination, upper body strength and hand dominance. Alongside this children need to know why they are learning to write and understand why being a writer is important .
Children in EYFS start as an experimental writer, using some clearly identifiable letters before moving to being an early writer attempting to write words relying on their developing phonological awareness. Moving from EYFS into Year 1 children can then become a conventional writer, using writing for a purpose and attempting new words and then progressing to a proficient writer where they write for a range of purposes and audiences
As a result of our teaching, children are engaged, excited and our children have a love for writing.
Teachers assess children’s writing in three phases. The short-term assessments that teachers make as part of every lesson help them to adjust their daily plans. They use medium term assessments (Ingredients for success) to measure progress against the key objectives, and to help them plan for the next unit of work. Teachers make summative assessments and use them to assess progress against school and national targets. These summative assessments are made using PiXL grammar and spelling tests, SATS and teacher assessments against the Pixl Statements. With the help of these assessments, teachers are able to set targets and summarise the progress of each child before discussing it with the child’s parents. The next teacher also uses these assessments as the basis or planning work for the new school year. All children are regularly assessed to monitor progression.
The subject leader keeps samples of children’s work and CUSP exemplifications in a portfolio. This demonstrates what the expected level of achievement is in English in each year of the school. Teachers meet regularly to review and moderate examples of work. Regular book looks are carried out by the subject leader to ensure previous learning is being built upon, that there is depth and breadth of coverage, that progress is evident and that children are given opportunities to practice knowledge and misconceptions are addressed.