Marsh Hill, Erdington, Birmingham B23 7HY | Telephone: 0121 464 2920


The aim of the National Curriculum for writing is clear: to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate


All pupils should fulfil their potential regardless of ability, background, gender or ethnicity. By the time they leave us, they will have a command of English which will help them to flourish at secondary school and also later in life. Pupils will read easily, fluently and with good understanding, having developed the habit of reading widely, often and for pleasure. Pupils will acquire a wide vocabulary and an understanding of the conventions of reading, so that they are equipped to appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage. In writing, pupils will write confidently for purpose and audience, using the correct level of formality. They will have a very good understanding of the conventions of grammar and also a rich a varied vocabulary to draw upon, so that their writing is accurate and purposeful. Orally, pupils will have the ability to express themselves articulately and with confidence, having developed these skills in a wide variety of tasks and to varied audiences, using appropriate intonation and volume where required.  

Implementation: How is writing taught at Marsh Hill Primary School?

We want children to participate fully as a member of society when they begin their secondary education. We want them to be writers. In order to achieve this, we want pupils to: acquire a wide vocabulary; a solid understanding of grammar and punctuation; be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time with us.  We are very aware that some of our pupils' early language acquisition is limited - this is why we endeavour to build upon an ever-widening bank of vocabulary, across the whole curriculum. We have developed a bespoke writing curriculum to facilitate this aim, and review it in-line with other subjects annually. It is a whole-school approach (Years 1 - 6) to teaching English, with a strong focus on grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. It provides a flexible toolkit to help deliver creative, dynamic and effective lessons. Writing lessons take place daily, lasting for an hour. The curriculum is designed to excite, with 'reading as writers' at its core and grammar lessons woven in throughout. The writing curriculum has been designed and developed using a range of resources such as: previously used schemes of work; teaching strategies that have evolved in-line with National Curriculum expectations; nationally published subject research; external support regarding Curriculum Development and finally, the needs of our children.

Varied, whole texts

Our unique use of diverse whole texts (where applicable) enables children to become fully immersed and engaged in a range of great texts, both non-fiction and fiction. Carefully chosen texts help to develop children’s reading skills and their knowledge of the world around them, and to build up a store of reading experience on which they can draw later in life. These texts both help children to learn how the experts write and act as models for their own writing. This then, in turn, supports our approach to becoming writers.

Purpose and audience

Writing takes on meaning, and a sense of excitement, when it is composed for a real purpose and a defined audience. Each of the writing units has a performance or publication outcome because knowing who will read a piece of learning or watch a performance, and why they will do so, raises motivation and has a direct impact on the quality of writing that children produce.

Talk for writing

Oral rehearsal helps children to develop a sense of what a sentence is and, later, to hear how more complex sentences sound. It also helps them to hear the difference between the way we talk and the way we write. Discussion is where deep learning takes place. Our writing curriculum provides children with opportunities for oral rehearsal and talking, assisting with evaluation and reflection. This allows our pupils to develop their understanding and application of spoken language, which is carefully planned for throughout both key stages.

Contextualised grammar

To become great writers, children need to understand how great writing is put together. Exploring the grammar choices of authors, how grammar is used in real texts and the terminology to discuss it provides children with a toolkit to use language confidently and effectively in their own writing.

For each term, our writing curriculum provides units that cover a selection of varied text types: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and visual literacy. A unit is based on one main text and lasts between two and three weeks. Teachers adapt each unit plan; they use their assessment of pupils' knowledge and understanding of spelling, grammar and punctuation to address any gaps in their learning. This is woven through each unit, building upon previously taught skills. A typical unit (sequence of lessons) allows children to: analyse a high quality model text as a reader; identify the key features/vocabulary/grammar that is necessary to include in their own writing; create and edit a first draft; identify further improvements based on the features of the text; present a final draft independently. The writing process that children learn is that of reading as a writer and then applying the key features to their own masterpieces (writing for the reader).

A writing 'tool' that is embedded within our writing units is as follows: Notice It, Try It, Use It. We enable pupils to see what the particular skill looks like (Notice It). We then teach the specific skill and allow them to 'Try It' within their own writing. Finally, the children are expected to use the writing skill (Use It) in their independent writing, at the end of the unit.


Each term, children will study two fiction texts by well-known authors such as Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Browne or Chris Riddel. They have the opportunity to study the whole text, allowing them to become fully immersed in the book. A section of the text is used as the 'WAGOLL' (What A Good One Looks Like) in order to showcase the writing skills that pupils need to gain, rehearse and/or develop.  This detailed and extended study of an author’s writing provides children with a sound model and springboard for their own extended compositions.


Each unit has a cross-curricular link to either History or Geography - this is scheduled to take place once children have acquired new knowledge and skills from the subject in question for that half term. The outcome for the writing unit allows children to demonstrate their new knowledge by presenting it in the form of the text-type that is being studied, such as a non-chronological report or an explanation text.  


In poetry units, children are able to explore extended single-voice collections of poetry from some of our best-loved children’s poets, such as Michael Rosen, Ted Hughes and Roger McGough. As in the fiction units, this focus allows children to comprehend elements of similarity and difference within one poet's work. They are also enabled to compare different poetic forms and anaylse a range of poetry as they progress throughout Key Stage 2. 

Visual Literacy

At least once a term, teachers will deliver a unit called Visual Literacy. The unit may be focused on either fiction or non-fiction, and it will be centred around a short animation. Teachers have access to an online resource called the Literacy Shed Plus, which contains hundreds of animated short films that address the following themes: loss and change, diversity, trauma, humour, adventure, fantasy, celebrations, horror and mystery to name a few. Visual Literacy helps children to explore emotion within a text and use discussion in order to learn; they are supported to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas. It is also an opportunity to showcase their writing skills independently, being able to bring a visual text to life using words on paper. This resonates with our pupils due to their extensive use of hand-held devices and our whole-school ethos to continue to develop a passion for reading books.


More recently, we have placed a particular focus on improving and raising standards in spelling.  Our approach to the teaching and learning of spelling continues to support our delivery of the writing curriculum because each spelling unit has a specific set of words/spelling rules that are embedded throughout the writing unit. This is used alongside teacher assessment of previously taught spelling skills, enabling us to develop a systematic approach to teaching spelling rules and patterns. We place the highest expectations on children’s spelling in all their work, supporting them with a repertoire of resources, including subject-specific word lists, to help them when they write.

Spoken Language

As part of our daily practice, we encourage our pupils to speak clearly and confidently and articulate their views and opinions. This begins when children enter the Reception class and embark on the phonics programme (refer to our Reading Policy) and it continues throughout school. We teach that children need to express themselves orally in an appropriate way, matching their style and response to audience and purpose. They are encouraged to listen and respond to literature, and to give and receive instructions. They also develop the skills of participating effectively in group discussions.

Across the curriculum, significant emphasis is put on learning opportunities which promote good spoken language skills. These include:

  • Provision of role play and drama opportunities to enliven and enrich children’s understanding of character and relationships
  • The opportunity to present ideas to various audiences, including classmates, governors and visitors
  • Make regular use of talk partners to allow children to develop their thinking
  • Plan a range of activities to encourage collaborative talk
  • Talk for writing strategies (orally rehearsing sentences)

In every lesson, children are exposed to new language and vocabulary, whether it is expressive, technical or subject-specific. Teachers encourage and model the use of new vocabulary in spoken and written language and record new vocabulary on the class Working Walls to support future use. These lists are overtly referred to in future lessons and children are actively encouraged to use them to aid their work. Teachers provide opportunities for children to revisit and use new vocabulary so that it becomes embedded. In line with the school values and the Behaviour policy, the children are also encouraged to talk respectfully to those around them, whatever their role within the school community.


When communicating ideas in writing, it is important that children use a handwriting style which is neat and legible.  The importance of handwriting should not be under-estimated.  It is vital that children can write quickly, comfortably and legibly as it is a skill needed in many curriculum areas.  Children’s self-esteem is also heightened when they are able to take pride in their handwriting. 

Pupils are taught an agreed style (Nelson Handwriting) across the whole school.  Teachers teach this style drawing from the Nelson scheme using NC English objectives where possible and addressing issues from assessment and observation.

Attention to posture and seating arrangements is important.  Children who write with their left hand face particular difficulties and teachers need to be aware of this.  Left-handed children should either site next to other left-handers or on the left side of a right-hander to avoid bumping arms or smudging work. Pupils will be taught to use the correct size letters – capital letters at the start of sentences and for proper nouns.

Handwriting is taught daily and as an integral part of writing, spelling and phonics lessons.

Children who display specific difficulties with handwriting will have these addressed through such interventions as slanted writing boards, rubber pencil grips, using alternative writing media etc.  Individual cases may be referred to the SENDCo where necessary.  All staff are expected to act as a model when writing on the board or marking work, using the agreed fluent joined style where appropriate. 


By the end of the Foundation stage, we expect that the majority of children will be at the expected standard of GLD 2 on all areas of learning with a high percentage of pupils achieving GLD 3.

By the end of KS1, we expect that the majority of children will reach the expected standard and that some children will achieve the standard of greater depth, in-line with the national and local average.

By the end of KS2, we expect that the large majority of children will reach the expected standard within the writing framework, and some children will achieve the standard of greater depth, in-line with the national and local average.

As children move on to their secondary education, we believe that our curriculum will prepare them for the next step in their learning journey and that they leave Marsh Hill feeling like they are a talented, confident writer.

Follow this link to view the recommended spelling lists: National Curriculum for Spelling

Progression in grammar, punctuation and spelling skills across the genres

Progression in handwriting skills

Long Term Plan for Writing with cross-curricular links