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“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

– Ludwig Wittgenstein

Subject Lead: Miss Hopps


At St Joseph’s, we have designed a broad and balanced curriculum.  As our pupils’ progress, we intend for our children to weave together the complexities of spoken language, handwriting, spelling, grammar, punctuation and writing skills with the support of trained staff and their parents and carers with a sense of enjoyment and curiosity.

Our teaching curriculum for spoken language, handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation and writing aims to ensure that children:

  • become fluent writers of many genres, where they effectively and confidently use the skills of fluent handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation and developing their spoken language
  • are challenged and develop their resilience as they take the steps to gain deep skills in writing composition and apply spoken language, handwriting and spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • develop curiosity and creativity as they develop their spoken language and apply this to their writing
  • develop a sense of community where children share the pieces they have written, through spoken form or words on a page and respect the work of others.
  • supportive, honest and friendly environment where children are prepared to take risks, have a self belief and responsibility with a secure a deep understanding in their spoken language, handwriting, spelling, grammar, punctuation and writing skills.
  • can understand and apply technical language as they speak and write
  • have developed and mastered lifelong learning skills that can be applied to a 21st century Britain.
  • stay motivatedand committed believing they can do it!

Cultural Capital

The curriculum at St Joseph’s which has been developed to support children with their spoken language, handwriting, spelling, grammar, punctuation and writing will offer children the opportunities to draw upon skills, behaviours and knowledge. To be able to do this, all pupils are:

  • Taught practical lessons that allow them to question, articulate and explore the work of a breadth of various authors, genres and styles of writing
  • Given opportunities to perform where they need to be aware of how to project their voice to their audience but to use the voice instrument to be engaging.
  • Given opportunities to develop an understanding of the world through a range of high-quality non-fiction texts across the curriculum
  • Able to participate in writing competitions
  • Through local visits and visitor experience, given opportunities to become increasingly aware of the opportunities available in the wider world through the study of reading which can have an impact upon their writing. For example, children will have the opportunity to speak and work with local authors and illustrators, visit libraries and theatres (to watch live performances of classics)


At St Joseph’s children have a discreet whole class writing lesson every day, which encompasses the skills of spoken language, handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation.  In order to aid children develop the complex skills of spoken language, handwriting, spelling, grammar, punctuation and writing where they develop their understanding and  fluency, we have identified key performance indicators for each year group.  These have been selected as we believe they are the fundamental building blocks needed in developing the skills needed.  In using this  broad and balanced progressive curriculum children build upon prior knowledge and develop new concepts. However, this is not the only opportunity children have to develop such vital skills, twice yearly we have a visit from the local author Adam Bushnell and Sam Jackson, a Forest Schools specialist, who always inspires the children and staff. In addition, we seize opportunities that will inspire the children, from visiting the Lego exhibition at Bowes Museum, to visiting Eden Camp to find out about the second world war or Captain Cook at his birthplace museum. All high-quality educational visits that inspire children to talk and write.

Step 1, 2, 3 and 4 – penmanship/spelling strategies

Pencil grip, letter formation

  • Across the school we follow Letter- join, which is a progressive programme which clearly demonstrates how to hold a writing tool, how to sit and how to form the letters correctly. It also is clear about the size of letters in relation to one another and progresses on to a cursive script.
  • Children in EYFS are supported on a 1:1 basis as they develop their skills, whereas children from Y1-6 have a discrete handwriting lesson four times a week.

 Concepts of print

  • A concept of print allows your eyes to be opened to the world of writing, therefore across the school texts are used in teaching and are there for the children to access where print gives an impact for the information the author is passing on to the reader.
  • This knowledge enables a discussion to be had between teacher and children as they best way to share their writing.

 Phoneme Awareness

  • Phonemic awareness does not involve print but is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds or phonemes in spoken words. It is also about understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds.
  • It is an auditory skill.
  • A child without phonemic awareness may not be able to hear that sun and sit start with the same sound.  They may not be able to blend together sounds into words like m-a-n is man.
  • Therefore, at St Joseph’s before the children learn any speed sounds from Read, Write Inc they play lots of aural games and the early years teacher works closely with our Speech and Language therapist

 Phonological Awareness

  • It encompasses the many ways sounds/phonemes function in words.  It goes beyond just the phoneme awareness level and delves into syllable, rhyme, and onset/rime.
  • At this point the children begin to learn Speed Sounds as part of the Read, Write Inc scheme. As part of this they are introduced to Fred talk, when they ‘Fred Talk’, they do so in sounds not words. This has a huge impact when a child is unsure how to spell a word as the staff ask the child to ‘Fred Talk’. To build the child’s confidence we would only do this if we knew it was a pure sound word.
  • From Y1 a weekly spelling list is sent home which includes words linked to a spelling pattern.
  • The children have a spelling test at the end of the week.
  • At the beginning of each English lesson there is time spent on learning spelling patterns.

 Steps 5 and 6 – Fluency

 Sight Words

  • Read, Write, Inc the children learn about ‘red words’ (common exception words), words that they can ‘Fred Talk’. They learn that they will need to read these words on sight and that they need to look at the shape of the word to help them remember how to spell this word.
  • Sight words form part of the weekly spelling lists that are sent home and then tested at the end of the week.


  • Is the result of learning, repetition, and practice.
  • Through the use of ‘Fred Talk’ and the skill of segmenting a word to spell, alongside the daily spelling sessions where children are introduced to spelling patterns, automaticity occurs.

 Steps 7, 8 and 9 – Academic Language

Background (topic) Knowledge

  • To be able to write in a range of genres it’s important for the children to have a background knowledge to what they are going to write about.
  • Therefore, at St Joseph’s the texts we share in our ‘Words and us together’ help the children to gain knowledge.


Vocabulary, syntax (grammar)

It is important to us at St Joseph’s for children to develop a range of vocabulary and as *Beck, McKeown, Kucan (2013) suggest there is a tier system we can use to support the children.

  • Tier one words – every day words that the children will use in conversations, for example book, cat, lovely, street
  • Tier two words – these are words that occur across the curriculum and can sometimes be found more often in writing than speech, for example hilarious, emerge, priority
  • Tier three words – link to specific content area of a curriculum, for example atom, molecule, continent

*Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., Kucan, L. (2013) 2nd Edition, Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction. Guildford Press. NewYork/London

  • The grammar lessons that we teach includes the technical curriculum but crucially how to apply this to create well formed sentences. The skills we teach are revisited and become ‘sticky knowledge’ which the children apply to their writing.

Text Structure

  •  At St Joseph’s we expose the children to a variety of text structure which allows the us to be able to teach the skills for the children to form texts in different ways.
  • This occurs within our teaching sequence of writing.

Steps 10 and 11 - Composition Strategies

Process (planning, drafting, revising, editing)

  • As part of the skills the children acquire, we ensure that they are aware and understand the importance of the writing process.
  • From reception age the children are introduced to ‘Helicopter Stories’, which enables them to plan their story.
  • From Y1 to Y6 ‘Helicopter Stories’ continue as we, at St Joseph’s, understand the importance of oral storytelling and the importance par this has in developing quality narrative writing.
  • In other genres the children, through the teaching sequence, learn how to plan, draft, revise and edit their work. Children from Y1 edit their work.
  • Children plan, write and edit.

 Craft (ideas, organisation, voice, word choice, sentence fluency)

“Writing really is a difficult craft and there are many parts to master.”

– James Johnson

At St Joseph’s the skills taught in spoken language, handwriting, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation all come together as the children write but we do realise that to produce that complete piece of work realise on many skills. Therefore:

  • The skills are built into sequences of teaching writing
  • The skills are modelled by the class teacher
  • The skills are practised by the children before applying them to a final piece of writing
  • The skills are revisited to embed them as ‘sticky knowledge’