Guidance on teaching writing and the new Ofsted framework

Introduction

The mission of The Writing For Pleasure Centre is to help all young people become passionate and successful writers. We look to accomplish this goal through curriculum development, conducting and publishing research, and by working with children, teachers, school leaders, teacher-trainers and charities.

We have developed our research-rich website to share the most effective teaching practices. It’s our hope that teachers regard The Writing For Pleasure Centre website as a place where they can access a specialist network and continued professional development that is free.


The Research Base

For the past fifty years, research has been consistent on what makes great writing teaching. Despite this, we as teachers can be inundated by a variety of approaches and training, all promising a lot but often lacking the necessary grounding to be successful in the long-term. This is why our website is based on the following:

If you’re new to the idea of a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy, you can read about it here.

  • Extensive scientific research into the most effective writing instruction.
  • Case studies of what the best performing teachers of writing do that makes the difference.
  • Our own research into a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy.
  • The wisdom of professional writers.

The Writing For Pleasure Centre functions both as a think tank and as an action research community. The result is that we are continually engaged in sharing effective practices, case studies and research findings.

The New Ofsted Framework

With the new Ofsted framework coming out recently, we wanted to look at where effective writing teaching fits.

In this document is our careful and considered response to the different aspects of the framework including: intentions, implementation, impact, progression of skills, acquisition of knowledge, tackling social disadvantage, providing cultural capital, honouring the local community, children’s personal development, child engagement, supporting children with SEND, challenging advanced writers and, finally, teachers’ subject and pedagogical knowledge.

Intentions

How children’s knowledge of writing and of being a writer progresses.

Children become knowledgeable about the different reasons in which writers are moved to write: to teach, persuade or influence, entertain, paint with words, reflect and to make a record. Over time, they become increasingly knowledgeable about the different ways in which these reasons can be realised, including through rich interconnection and subversion.

Taken from Real-World Writers (Young & Ferguson 2020)

Children become increasingly knowledgeable about:

  • The variety of ways in which writers can reach and leave an impression on a variety of audiences through writing.
  • The writing processes writers use and, over time, are given the agency to develop their own preferred writing process so they can write from a position of strength.
  • The strategies and techniques writers use to realise their writing intentions.
  • How grammar functions within the craft of writing. Through authentic use, children become knowledgeable about grammatical and linguistic terms.
  • The importance writers place on word choice and on increasing their vocabulary. This includes seeking synonyms for words when it feels appropriate.
  • How writers use punctuation and other conventions to aid their audience’s ability to read their writing easily and as they intended.
  • How writers proofread their writing effectively and so correct unsure spellings before a piece of writing goes to publication.
  • Automaticity and legibility in handwriting and its importance in relation to future readers accessing their texts.
  • The need for a writer’s writing products to be visually stimulating, accurate and of the highest quality.
  • Children learn typical spelling patterns and how words are constructed. They also become knowledgeable about different techniques for learning spellings.

How our children’s writing skills progress.

How we are preparing children for life after school and how we are trying to tackle social disadvantage.

  • Children learn about the different ways in which we are moved to write and by developing as writers, they can fully engage with society in a variety of ways.
  • Through class writing projects, they learn how to share their knowledge, opinion, imaginative creativity and artistry. They also learn how to influence and to be persuasive, because you either learn to write your own thoughts or opinions, or else are subjected to someone else’s.
  • Through class writing projects, we ensure children can discuss, debate, independently research and explore their own ideas, develop their own writing projects and have an independent response, through writing, to material and subjects taught. They are also able to entertain a variety of audiences through stories and personal anecdote.
  • Children are keen and utterly able to write in personal response to what they are reading. They learn how to ensure their writing is technically accurate before it reaches publication. This ensures their writing makes the best impression and is taken seriously.
  • We decrease the risk of school failure which results from a pupil’s inability to share their knowledge and to ‘write to learn’.
  • We appreciate that business leaders, the job market and academic disciplines require strong writers and so we develop them.

How our writing teaching reflects and honours our local community.

  • Children undertake class writing projects which encourage them to be spirited citizens and to play an active role in the public life of their local community and beyond.
  • By learning to write together on a variety of subjects which are important to them, children learn about each other’s thoughts, cultures, values, knowledge and feelings and have a respect for each other’s individual liberty and tolerance of alternative points of view. As developing writers, they also learn about the vast amount they have in common.
  • By building class publishing houses and a community of writers within their class each year, children create an inclusive environment which supports the development of unique writing voices.

How learning to be writers gives our children cultural capital.

  • We argue that, by teaching children to become life-long independent motivated writers, we are providing them with the most powerful cultural capital you can have – an ability to turn your voice (your thoughts, knowledge, opinions, artistry) into powerful writing.
  • By writing within a community of writers, children find that they can learn from others’ cultural capital.
  • We teach children how writing can be a powerful tool for understanding new knowledge and how you can reorganise it and have a personal response to it.

Implementation

How our teaching of writing supports children’s learning of the writing curriculum.

Our teaching of writing supports children’s learning of the writing curriculum because we have carefully considered the research which informed the construction of the writing curriculum (DfE 2012). For example, we teach children about:

  • How to be part of a community of writers.
  • The different reasons writers are moved to write.
  • The writing processes.
  • Setting distant, process and product writing goals.
  • Having inquiry skills.
  • The importance of writing momentum and practising the craft of writing every day.
  • How grammar functions within the craft of writing.

How we ensure children understand what and why they are writing.

We ensure that children know what and why they are writing by:

  • Making explicit the purpose and future audience for the class writing project and where their writing will end up.
  • Allowing children to choose what they want to write about within the parameters of a class writing project.
  • Teaching them about why certain genres exist before inviting them to use the genres for themselves in class writing projects.
  • Teaching children that writing is a craft which is developed through repeated practice.

How we encourage children to engage in developing as writers.

  • By ensuring teachers get to know the children in their class. This is achieved by allowing children to write about their own lives, thoughts, opinions, knowledge and imaginative ideas.
  • By focusing on the affective needs of effective practice, namely: self-efficacy, agency, motivation, volition, writer-identity, self-regulation and writing for enjoyment, satisfaction and pleasure.

How does developing as a writer impact positively on children’s personal development?

  • To truly develop a child’s writer-identity is to develop their whole identity and therefore contributes to their personal development in the most profound way.
  • We ensure children leave our school with a craft which can help promote positive well-being and self-esteem.
  • Because children learn to develop their own writing process, they develop a writer-identity. This gives them confidence and knowledge of themselves as writers.
  • Because our class writing projects are purposeful, involve a future audience, and children have agency over the subject for their writing, children have motivation for wanting their writing to be the best it can be.
  • Because children build a community of writers through our writing workshop approach, they learn how to reflect wisely, behave with integrity and cooperate consistently with their fellow writers.
  • Because children are encouraged to write in personal response to subjects and to use their knowledge, opinions, thoughts and own imaginings in their writing, they learn how being a writer gives them an ability to reflect and to represent their thoughts and ideas creatively.
  • As the children develop as writers, they are given more control over their writing process and setting their own deadlines for completing class writing projects. As a result, children learn how to be responsible for themselves.
  • Because children are given ample time in which to pursue their personal writing projects, they are actively encouraged to develop themselves through writing by definition. They learn that writing can be a pleasurable and recreational activity and a life-long pursuit. They are encouraged to bring their writing to and from home and school.
  • They learn how writing can show their artistry, ability to see things differently, and about the enjoyment in playing and having fun with words.

How is children’s development as writers connected to other parts of the curriculum?

  • Because children become increasingly knowledgeable about the ways in which writers are moved to write, they are able to write in personal response to what they learn in other areas of the curriculum and to share this with other members of the class. This helps them and their peers have a deeper understanding of other parts of the curriculum as a result.
  • Children learn some of the discipline-specific genres involved in other parts of the curriculum. For example, writing people’s history, historical recounts and accounts, biography and scientific reports.

How are children with SEND supported in developing as writers?

Children with SEND are supported in the following ways:

  • They start with a simplified writing process of planning, drafting and publishing. Publishing is undertaken by an adult helper on the child’s behalf if requested.
  • They are encouraged to plan using storytelling, drawing, talk and picture book making.
  • They are encouraged to make picture books which try to match the quality of the commercial picture books found in the classroom and school libraries.
  • Over time, they are moved towards conventional planning, dabbling, revising and basic editing.
  • They regularly write alongside an adult who is also writing.
  • They receive a greater frequency of pupil-conferencing.
  • They have personal project books and they are encouraged to take these to and from school.
  • They set themselves regular personal writing targets. These are then added to their ‘can do’ list.

How are your advanced and highly experienced writers supported?

Advanced writers are supported in the following ways:

  • They are encouraged to write and learn from one another.
  • They are encouraged to have personal project books and to work on their compositions both at home and at school.
  • They have freedom over their writing process and the strategies they employ.
  • They are encouraged to actively hybridise or subversively manipulate class writing projects in new and creative ways.
  • They are encouraged to collect words, sentences / poetic moments, themes, try out types of openings and types of endings, metaphors, characters as metaphors, collect / discuss psychological / philosophical ideas as plots / characters / settings for narrative writing.
  • Read for pleasure a wide variety of texts including those which present a challenge.
  • To develop their narrative writing beyond the norm and take on advanced writerly techniques.

This is what we believe our teachers need expert subject knowledge in.

Teachers must have expert knowledge in the following:

The aspects of grammar teachers should be able to identify and teach.

  • They should be knowledgeable about the strategies and techniques involved in developing children’s writing in the eight key craft areas.
The eight key craft areas teachers need to know

This is our school’s pedagogical knowledge for teaching apprentice writers.

Our pedagogical knowledge is based on extensive scientific research into the most effective writing instruction, case studies of what the best performing teachers of writing do that makes the difference, our own school action research and the wisdom of professional writers. We therefore understand that the effective teaching of writing involves the application of the following principles:

The 14 principles of world-class writing teaching

  1. Build a community of writers.
  2. Ensure every child is a writer.
  3. Read, share, think and talk about writing.
  4. Plan purposeful and authentic class writing projects.
  5. Teach the writing processes.
  6. Set writing goals.
  7. Be reassuringly consistent. This involves teaching through a contemporary Writing Workshop approach and following a regular routine of self-regulation strategy instruction, writing time and class sharing.
  8. Provide time for personal writing projects.
  9. Balance the teaching of composition and transcription.
  10. Teach daily mini-lessons.
  11. Be writer-teachers.
  12. Give high-quality feedback through pupil conferencing and through responsive mini-lessons.
  13. Connect reading and writing.

This is how teachers check pupils’ understanding and set future writing goals with them.

Teachers check pupils’ understanding and set future writing goals by:

This is how we ensure key knowledge and skills about being a writer become part of children’s long-term memory.

Because of our commitment to a reassuringly consistent writing approach, children repeatedly practise the craft of writing, are repeatedly moved to write in a variety of common genres, and because these genres are repeated and built upon throughout the years, children begin to place this knowledge into their long-term memory. Children become experts in the writing processes as they move through the school and once experienced enough, are encouraged to develop their own preferred writing process. Because children work through the writing processes repeatedly, and are taught self-regulated writing strategies, they undertake their writing effectively, efficiently and largely independently.

Impact

What the children can show for themselves at the end of their time with us.

  • Children will have a wealth of writing, both in their writing portfolios and their personal notebooks, from their whole time in the school.
  • Children will have their own established writing process, strategies and routines for producing successful, meaningful and accurate writing.
  • They will have artefacts and memories of the impact their published and performed writing has had on the local community and beyond.
  • Children know how to successfully live a writer’s life after leaving school. If they wanted or needed to, they could live the writer’s life for economic reasons (knowing how to write with authority, daring and originality is great currency). They could decide to live the writer’s life for political or civic reasons – sharing their knowledge and opinions with clarity and imagination. We also hope they would write for personal reasons – as an act of reflection or record keeping. Finally, I would want them to know how to write for reasons of pure pleasure and recreation – feeling a sense of joy and accomplishment in sharing their artistry, identity and knowledge with others in ways that are profound and confident.
  • It’s also our conviction that our intentions and subsequent implementations of research-informed writing practices will ensure our children achieve very well on national assessments.

Conclusion

We offer a wide variety of high-quality and research-rich CPD nationally and internationally. This includes our school residencies, specialist teacher institutes or our single of multi-day school-based teacher workshops. We value our long-term and close affiliations with schools and other stakeholders. This means that we, like the schools we work with, share a longstanding commitment to embedded school CPD and providing pleasurable, satisfying and effective writing teaching. For more information on becoming one of our school affiliates, please email us.

 School Residencies

When we do residencies in schools, we will visit for several days to work with senior-leadership, teachers and children. Over the course of our time with you, we will meet with senior-leadership to ensure they understand the principles of world-class writing teaching from the EYFS to KS2. We also provide after-school teacher workshops, teacher mentoring and we will teach exemplar lessons for teachers to observe. We spend a lot of time observing and mentoring teachers in their classrooms and provide each teacher with their own summary report. Once the residency is over, we encourage schools to engage in school-improvement action planning, our self-study modules, working-group meetings and action-research projects. We ensure we maintain contact with our school affiliates over the long-term and continue to make ourselves available to staff who need us without extra cost. We see this as embedded CPD and is based on what research tells us is the most effective type of teacher development. For more information, please contact us.

 INSET Workshops

Growing a whole school of extraordinary writers: the pursuit of world-class writing teaching. This INSET day involves meeting with senior-leadership to ensure they understand the 14 principles of world-class writing teaching from the EYFS to KS2. The rest of the day is devoted to spending time with each year group or key stage team. During these workshops, teachers are introduced to the 14 principles of world-class writing teaching and our associated resources. Time is set aside for teachers to look at and discuss these resources and how they might like to use of them within the context of their own classrooms.

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