Here is a brief outline of the key messages from the Education Endowment Fund’s summary on effective writing at Key Stage Two. The summary produced by the EEF uses a number of meta-analysis based research papers to draw its conclusions. It says:
- Children listening to texts being read aloud is important to both reading and writing development.
- Children being given time to discuss the books they are reading with others is valuable.
- Children should have freely available a wide-range of texts to read from.
Teaching The Writing Process
- The writing process should be explicitly taught using the ‘gradual release of responsibility’ otherwise known as the ‘repeated practice’ or ‘self-regulated strategy instruction’ model.
- Children need regular practice at writing and the writing process to become successful!
- To achieve this level of practice children need to be kept motivated and fully engaged in wanting to improve their writing.
- Teachers need to be on hand, providing feedback to help pupils focus their effort appropriately.
- Schools should focus first on developing core classroom teaching strategies that improve the literacy capabilities of the whole class. With this in place, the need for additional support should decrease.
Teaching Through Genre Topics
Generating Ideas And Planning
- Children talking through their text with a partner before and during their writing will improve writing outcomes.
- Although accurate spelling, grammar and handwriting are important, at this stage they are not the main focus. If these aspects mistakenly become the focus at the drafting stage, writing becomes slow and effortful and therefore hinders progress in writing composition.
- Encouraging children to continuously re-read their texts as they write them can improve writing outcomes.
Revision & Editing
- Revising should be encouraged and ‘it should be accepted that work may become messy but that at this stage the audience will be limited’.
- When editing, spelling and grammar assume greater importance, pupils will need to recognise that their work will need to be accurate if readers are to engage with it and extract the intended information from it.
- Children will give greater focus to revision and editing if the writing is intended to be published.
- Presenting the work so that others can read it. This may not be the outcome for all pieces of writing, but when used it can provide a strong incentive for pupils to produce high-quality writing.
**By Phil Ferguson*
Education Endowment Fund (2017) Improving Literacy In Key Stage Two EEF: London