Thank you to Maddy Barnes for this article.
As English lead at a one form entry primary school and LA moderator in Manchester, I have eagerly awaited the writing exemplification materials. Like many, I have spent time analysing what the main implications for teaching will be in order to ensure that as many of our pupils achieve at least the expected standard at KS1 and KS2.
These are my main findings:
I was very reassured to see within the annotated materials the section that references the commentary of the piece as a whole, its overall composition in terms of appropriateness to purpose and audience, its organization and cohesion and any edits made during the process. This confirmed that although purpose and audience are not explicitly referred to in the interim framework statements, they are considered as part of the assessment. I will be re-enforcing the message in my setting that in order for our pupils to write at their best, we must provide a high quality stimulus (picture book, extract, object, text, film clip, picture etc.…) and analyse the purpose of the writing and the nature of the audience.
It also pleased me to find that the large majority of pieces of writing included at both KS1 and at KS2 were writing activities related to a text – Anne Fine, Shakespeare, Julia Donaldson, Gareth Edwards, Philippa Pearce, C.S. Lewis and Michael Morpurgo are some listed. As we are a school that teach English around a book, I feel that we are indeed ‘doing things right.’ Pupils are emerged in a high quality text, they read and analyse the language before planning a piece of writing that they will later edit and proof read.
Many of the pieces of evidence are annotated with references to the editing process for example, some minor edits have been made at the point of writing to improve clarity and vocabulary choices & a number of significant edits have been made at the point of writing to improve vocabulary choices and avoid repetition. This was also encouraging as it reflects the objectives for writing within the National Curriculum. Pupils are supposed to be given opportunities to draft and edit their own writing before it is considered as evidence for teacher assessment. In a recent staff meeting, we carried out some internal moderation where the work we sampled was the pupils’ second draft.
Non-fiction was clearly represented in the exemplification materials at both key stages. Writing through science and the humanities such as balanced arguments, instructions, non-chronological reports, follow-up writing opportunities from school trips and explanations are some of the genres represented. Ensuring that the standard of writing across the curriculum is as good as in English lessons is a tough task. However, the exemplification materials confirm that providing pupils with opportunities to write in other subjects is part of moderation for 2016. This has implications for planning meaningful and purposeful writing activities related to other subjects across the whole school. We try to ensure that pupils complete the plan-write-draft process in two additional pieces each half-term (science, humanities, RE or art).
Having taken all of the above into account (alongside the exemplification materials) I will also be discussing the importance of high quality verbal and written feedback for all pupils to ensure that they make at least good progress. In order to ensure that all staff understand what the expected standard looks like at KS1 and KS2, I will be sharing the new materials at our first staff meeting back. However, I will be focusing on the following too:
If our pupils are inspired to write at their best (across a range of forms and for a range of purposes)
If our pupils plan, draft and edit their writing
If teachers identify features in pupils’ writing and identify next steps for pupils
If teachers provide high quality verbal or written feedback
If pupils return to their next steps/ gaps are taught
= pupils will make progress