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"Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic."

- J. K. Rowling

Curriculum Intent

Writing and reading are key life skill and therefore their prominence throughout our curriculum is a core attribute to our curriculum at Indian Queens School. We believe writing and reading go ‘hand-in-hand’ where one helps to develop the other and our cross-curricular approach gives knowledge rich content that is used in writing opportunities.

Significant and meaningful time is allocated daily to GPS, handwriting, skill acquisition and text related research. Teachers incorporate the needs of SEND and GDS pupils into writing opportunities in the form of additional scaffolding and support or the application of advanced concepts and independent application of literary features from pervious learning.

We recognise that mastery in phonics is fundamental to support the process of learning to write and aim to teach pupils the key skills of writing through the Letters and Sounds phonics approach. The key skills taught in these sessions are explicitly reinforced and developed across the wider curriculum where written outcomes are closely matched to a range of genre with skills developed progressively across the year groups. We aim to maximise motivation by relating writing opportunities to interesting and informative texts, inspiring historical events or wider-world experiences (or a combination of all three if possible).

Our curriculum is structured in a way that utilises high quality texts and short media clips to link to writing opportunities. These text types and writing opportunities are carefully selected, across all year groups, so that children are systematically exposed to a variety of genres and writing styles. This is particularly important in closing the vocabulary gap, where in collaboration with guided and class shared reading opportunities, the children discover new vocabulary and their associated definitions.

Subject knowledge is retained through the assessment of monthly extended writing (Big Writing) opportunities that have been redrafted with misconceptions or weaker areas being addressed as a result. These finished pieces appear in Independent Writing books and act as a record of improvement in writing from R-Y6. In KS2 ‘Learning by Questions’ is used to directly address misconceptions linked to grammar and spelling in real-time. Feedback from pupils and staff is very positive and Indian Queens School is leading the use of this platform in Aspire while working with other schools nationally to improve the platform.

Through this consistent and motivational approach pupils start on a life-long love of vocabulary, reading and writing. They will realise that the skills they develop can be applied to various genres and purposes. This will lead to the formation of confident, inquisitive and resilient learners who take pride in what they write.

Please see the document links towards the bottom of this page to learn about the full English Curriculum at Indian Queens School.
Curriculum Implementation

Teacher subject knowledge is addressed with CPD in the school and wider academy chain setting. Coaching and short observations are used to identify and support teaching staff where achievable targets are set. Although Covid has disrupted this sequence recently, these targets would be addressed and discussed in subsequent meetings and support sessions. Staff wellbeing is very important, so support is given in manageable and considerate ways to allow teachers to feel part of the process.

Pupils at Indian Queens School have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and writing activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon these early skills and work carefully to reinforce links between phonics sessions and embed the skills within the wider curriculum and other writing opportunities.

We follow the Letter Join handwriting programme. The early skills of letter formation are taught alongside the need to adopt a tripod grip.  As the children progress in the accuracy of letter formation they are taught to develop a ‘lead in’ line so developing a pre-cursive style as they move through Year 1.  As pupils secure this pre-cursive script they are then taught how to join in a progressive manner both in phonics sessions and whole class teaching.  

We use the highly successful Little Wandle phonics programme to teach our children to read, write and spell. As the children progress beyond this programme they move onto the No Nonsense spelling programme which teaches the fundamentals of spelling built upon the phonic knowledge already learnt. To supplement this approach, we use Literacy Shed Plus to maximise motivation by incorporating innovative planning ideas with text and animated film clips to ‘hook’ and inspire writers. To reinforce spelling skills, we use Spellingframe to ensure skills are embedded in the long-term memory. No Nonsense grammar is used with Learning by Questions (in KS2) to quickly identify misconceptions and ensure skills are assimilated into the pupil’s long-term memory.

We teach writing through the powerful and effective tool of storytelling which is based on the Talk for Writing model devised by Pie Corbett.  This approach places the learner, through formative assessment, at the heart of the planning, teaching and learning process. Talk for Writing helps the children become better speakers, listeners, readers, writers and thinkers.  The underpinning process of Talk for Writing is moving from imitation (laying the pattern of language in the children’s heads), innovation (using an original text model for creating something new) into independent application.  The Talk for Writing approach successfully draws on the other elements of our English curriculum combining them in an approach which pins high quality literature and vocabulary together. 

Vocabulary acquisition and writing independence, due to Covid lockdowns, have been noted as key areas to address so Literacy Shed Plus vocabulary specific activities (Shed Words) are being introduced. Writing Journey displays are used to celebrate writing and in-class displays promote writing allowing pupils to be proud of their achievements.

Through our cross curricular approach, opportunities for writing are presented so that a range of genre is experienced and relate to the over-arching topic for the half-term. There are also monthly opportunities for developing independence in producing a final polished Independent Writing piece of work where the pupil draws upon all the recent learning and skills they have acquired.  This will reflect learning from an earlier genre in a topic and gradually build up to show a progression of skills from R-Y6. Feedback suggest pupils are particularly proud of these pieces of writing.

"When I write I feel free to express what's in my mind; like a bird who's just come out of their bird box for the first time and seen all the colours of the world."
- Mia, Year 4
Curriculum Impact

Aspire checklists used in English books for writing (front) and reading (back) which shows progress through the year and Independent Writing books show progress across years. The writing checklist is a summary of the assessment of Independent Writing opportunities (two a half-term) which allows for gaps to be identified and addressed. Additional columns used for pupil assessment where they evaluate their own progress (not Y1).  The lowest 20% can be quickly identified with interventions utilized such as LbQ or additional scaffolding. Same day interventions can be used in conjunction with LbQ.

Increasing percentages of EXS at the end of Y6 and Y2 but noticeable disruption from Covid. Increasing use of peer assessment and green pen editing to assess and improve work. Work scrutiny sessions have occurred to compare writing between years and observations of lessons to check quality. Aspire SIP visits and from members of key networks help with evaluating writing in the school.

In preparation for secondary school, Y6 use a range of challenging texts, including Shakespearian, which link to writing opportunities. Likewise, during the Summer Term, Y2 prepare for Y3 with an increase in independence. Reading is a priority in Indian Queens School and all teachers focus on reading skills as a pathway into the rest of the curriculum. New comprehension scheme from Literacy Shed Plus with positive feedback from teachers; this system uses the VIPERS approach. Guided reading sessions use quality texts that motivate the class.

Subject leaders have joined CPD on EYFS and other topics. Indian Queens is leading the academy chain in using Learning by Questions as a new teaching platform that addresses misconceptions in real time.

At Indian Queens School we aim to develop confident, knowledgeable and creative writers who have the skills they need to pursue their life-long learning and rewarding writing.

Curriculum Organisation

Medium term plans have been created based on maximizing motivation and sparking interest in writing opportunities. At the core of every writing unit is a text or film based hook that enables a rich and varied discussion approach to the extended writing opportunity. Vocabulary development is a high priority in writing and is addressed with displays and discussions about new words throughout the school. Each writing opportunity is around two to three weeks in duration that consists of exploring and innovating phases before producing a final piece. These final pieces will eventually appear, after a break, in Independent Writing which are then regularly assessed with areas to work on being addressed in due course.

Progression documents are used to clarify teaching points and work in collaboration with medium term plans to provide a clear learning route. These documents build on previous learning with also preparing children for the next phase of their learning.

Medium term plans link directly to topics which are started with a Wow Moment to trigger interest before further in-depth research maintains the interest levels of the children. Medium term plans reflect six weeks of learning with some additional elements available for a particularly long half-term. Progression documents outline key skills to be taught and work alongside set programs including No Nonsense Spelling and Grammar. Medium term plans in writing allow for a varied but thorough approach to teaching writing that pins ideas on interesting and motivating topics. Medium term plans and progression documents are sharded on Sharepoint for staff to access.
The current school curriculum matches the National Curriculum as content has been taken from the NC document for use in planning and progression documents. Teachers refer to the NC to ensure objectives are covered. Learning is enhanced with the use of ‘Wow Moments’ to motivate and inspire children. These moments are often based on the school grounds with visits and visitors planned to enrich the learning experience further. These opportunities link to the overall topic and lend fact retention as a basis of writing opportunities. Planning and progression documents can be edited and improved where necessary if additional factors need to be included and are not treated as a ‘final’ document.
Curriculum Context

This is a key area we aim to address by adding links to set the writing opportunity into the context of the local area and Cornwall in general. For instance, while learning about significant artists on an international level and writing biographies, children will learn about significant local artists such as Barbera Hepworth. On a more local level, while writing legends based on King Arthur, children learn about the significance of Castle-an-Dinas (King Arthur’s reputed hunting lodge when the Goss Moor was heavily wooded).

Historically based on baseline data children enter the school with low levels of language development and speaking and listening. Therefore, key skills are addressed immediately; literacy motivation is maintained with high quality texts which link to writing opportunities throughout the school. Language development and vocabulary acquisition is key constituent to the English curriculum.

Visits are planned to link to the importance of Cornwall in a wider context whether that be local, regional, national or even international.

Teaching Handwriting

Handwriting is so important to your child because it is a basic skill that influences the quality of work throughout the curriculum. It is also a movement skill and one which is best taught directly by demonstration, explanation and practice. The principal aim is that handwriting becomes an automatic process, which frees pupils to focus on the content of the writing.

Our handwriting scheme is called ‘Letter-join’

All children learn to correctly form their letters through the handwriting scheme ‘Letter-join.’ The correct formation of all letters needs to be consistent and automatic and this may require a lot of practice. In order for this to happen, handwriting is taught in ways that enhance fluency and legibility. Handwriting is a skill which needs to be taught explicitly.

Since handwriting is essentially a movement skill, correct modelling of the agreed style by the class teacher is very important. The letter formation taught is, in the first instance, a cursive style, which ensures an early transition to joined handwriting.

Presentation is an important part of English at Indian Queens School. We aim to keep the same standards throughout our books and link our planning to topic themes so key English skills are at the core of all lessons. Children are encouraged to use a range of resources to assist with grammatical and imaginative writing. We use Spellingframe and Learning by Questions (KS2) as innovative ways to reinforce key skills.
"Books are a uniquely portable magic."
- Stephen King.
Organisation Rationale

Previous learning is the foundation of new learning. Learning is fragmented into small, manageable objectives which are taught at specific stages throughout the year and reinforced when monthly assessments in Independent Writing books, or informal assessment, dictate so to ensure learning is absorbed into the long term memory.

Depth and complexity of learning gradually progress from N/R-Y6 (for instance YR would write about Easter eggs while Y6 would write about the different views surrounding the Crucifixion).

Questioning is encouraged at all stages where the children can guide their own learning and use skills from other disciplines in their writing (hypothesizing skills using evidence from the real-world from Science).

To maintain awe and wonder in a topic, writing opportunities are structured to link acquisition of skills with other subjects which support the writing opportunities with factual content. Subject specific vocabulary is taught and encouraged to be used in writing opportunities if possible. This cross curricular approach will aid language and vocabulary development while maintaining motivation and interest levels in the topic.

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