Our English curriculum intent is that children will:
develop a wider vocabulary so that they can select the most appropriate turn of phrase to put across their point;
become competent in the arts of speaking and listening so that are able to communicate effectively and
master the craft of writing.
We use the Talk for Writing approach to teach English. The end goal of a unit of work is the independent application of language patterns and text features and mastery of the knowledge of and effective use of language to create a desired effect on the reader.
The internalisation of vocabulary, language and sentence patterns and whole texts in the imitation stage serves as a scaffold for writing later on. Children develop their word and general knowledge to enable them to talk knowledgeable and articulately. Armed with the knowledge of the expected written outcomes, teachers plan opportunities for children to hear and rehearse those language patterns and sentences, for children can only write what they know a lot about and can say. The internalisation of patterns through oral rehearsal of texts is an important scaffold to ensure that children talk in a way that they are expected to write. Of at least equal importance though is structured talk around the text and not simply retelling. This gives children a broader frame of reference from which to draw on and in doing so sets them up to make decisions about language choice – an important developmental process for mastering the craft of writing. Detailed text maps provide more of a scaffold – some children may need that in order to perfect speaking grammatically accurately. Many children would only require a looser text map though, with symbols to prompt key events and slight variations in the detail each time the text is retold. This serves to help children use a wider range of language to convey the text. Children also internalise generic story structure and success criteria for achieving a desired effect so that they can apply these ideas to wider contexts later on.
If the imitation stage is where children develop the word and general knowledge needed for independent application as well as underlying language patterns, then the innovation stage is where that knowledge is applied to another context. Children are supported to write at the expected standard by the scaffold of the work done in the imitation stage. That scaffold can be heavy if children hug an internalised model text closely or it can be light if children begin to distil the generalizable patterns and rely more on their wider reading to create a new version. Moving away from the use of the scaffold means moving towards mastery of writing: drawing on a range of vocabulary, patterns and ideas to achieve the desired effect.
During the innovation stage, the focus text provides a scaffold for successful writing but if children are to master the craft of writing, they need to be able to let go of the scaffold and instead draw on more generalisable knowledge of story structure and success criteria for achieving a certain effect. If children have this knowledge to mind, they will begin to be able to independently apply it to new contexts. We assess what children have learned by setting independent writing tasks for each unit of work - 12 in total for each year.