ST MICHAEL'S C OF E PRIMARY

English

How we teach writing

English (Talk for Writing)

St. Michael’s is a one-form entry primary school close to the centre of Birmingham. We celebrate the diversity of our children, with the vast majority of our pupils coming from minority ethnic groups and with 16 different languages spoken at home. As a result, we believe talk is vitally important across the curriculum.

In 2021/22, we started to implement the Talk for Writing approach for the teaching of English and it has begun to have a huge impact on the progress of our pupils. Talk for Writing is an engaging teaching framework developed by Pie Corbett, supported by Julia Strong. It is particularly powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own innovated version prior to formulating their own independent writing.

The Talk for Writing approach enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects. A key feature is that 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 ability in children to write creatively and powerfully.

Here at St. Michael’s, we underpin our English work by establishing a core reading spine of quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction that all children experience and draw upon. Imaginative units of work are developed to create a whole-school plan that is refined over the years, is well-resourced and documented to release teachers from planning and preparation so that they can focus on adapting their teaching for children’s learning.

Poetry 

In pursuit of building a rich English curriculum, we are intent on making our poetry provision one which possesses creative content, opens doors to new knowledge and is inherently challenging. This depth and challenge in our poetry texts allows:

  1. Teachers to model reading challenging texts with expert prosody;
  2. Additional opportunity to develop reading and comprehension;
  3. Opportunity for children to develop fluency;
  4. The study of the relationship between poet and audience and the impact on the reader;
  5. Exposure to a greater breadth and depth of vocabulary.

At St. Michael’s, we pride ourselves on providing a poetry curriculum, where the majority of poems stem from Bob Cox: Opening Doors anthology. At its heart, it has equity and excellence, social justice and inclusion. Some of our units include:

Year 6 studying the emotive and touching ‘Sympathy’ by Paul Laurence Dunbar, as well as Year 3 studying the classic narrative poem ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ by Robert Browning. This degree of rigour and challenge is reflective of the entirety of our English curriculum and it allows children to see the world of literature in a different light.

Non-Fiction 

Our English curriculum includes a high-quality provision of non-fiction texts, which are reflective of the daily texts encountered in our digital information age. Our non-fiction provision allows children to access knowledge from different disciplines, challenges stereotypes, reflect the current lived experiences of our children and is inherently challenging. This depth and challenge in our non-fiction texts allows:

  1. Teachers to model reading challenging texts with expert prosody;
  2. Greater knowledge acquisition;
  3. Opportunity for children to further develop fluency;
  4. The study of the relationship between author and audience and the impact on the reader;
  5. Teaching of vocabulary, non-fiction voice and presentational features;
  6. Teaching of the specific reading knowledge, skills and strategies that non-fiction texts require;
  7. Understanding of how non-fiction texts can be used as a meaningful stimulus for children’s own real world and independent writing;
  8. Children to draw on reader knowledge to make careful choices around voice, language and presentation in their own information writing.

Fiction 

At the heart of our English curriculum is a provision of high-quality fictional texts, which provide an excellent model of literary integrity, exceptional vocabulary and reflect the context of children that we teach. Our provision of fictional texts allows children to experience varying plot structures, including but not limited to; tales where the character embarks on a journey, stories where there is a beast for the protagonist to overcome or texts where the main characters lose an important object that must be found. Within these plot structures, children will be taught ‘tools’ rather than rules, of how to:

  1. Create carefully crafted openings and endings;
  2. Bring their characters alive through detailed characterisation;
  3. Develop vivid settings and suspense that contribute to the writing as a whole;
  4. Craft dialogue that moves the story forward and reveals the depth of character;
  5. Use description across a range of writing, including poetry and non-fiction.

The depth and challenge in our fictional texts allows:

  1. Teachers to model reading challenging texts with expert prosody;
  2. Opportunity for children to further develop vocabulary and fluency;
  3. The study of the relationship between author and audience and the impact on the reader;
  4. Exposure to a wide and diverse range of authors, illustrators, genres and forms;
  5. Children to see themselves reflected in what they read and write about and to have the opportunity to investigate other lives, worlds and perspectives;
  6. Exposure to books that are worth revisiting, re-reading and provide the opportunity to respond in a variety of creative ways.

Reading Spine 

First published in 2017, the CLPE Reflecting Realities report highlights the need for more books aimed at ages 3-11 to feature a character who is black, Asian or minority ethnic.  We passionately believe our pupils should be able to 'see themselves' in the books that we read in school. The document below lists the books that we read from EYFS to Year 6.