I had thought writing was just something that we all had to do in school and a few special people loved doing. How amazing to learn that everyone seems to harbour the wish [to write]. Of course most people have had bad experiences writing…
– Peter Elbow (1998)
This article is based on, and written in relation to, the findings of the Writing Is Primary (2009) action research project. The tenor of this article is to allow the reader to reflect on children’s writing and is in no way a criticism of any school(s) policy or teachers’ practice.
- Teachers not being clear about what they want from their students.
- Teachers not demonstrating what they want by writing with or for their pupils.
- Failure to convince pupils that the writing they are undertaking will be authentic and serve a legitimate purpose.
- Failure to bring genres of schooling closer to the genres of the wider social world.
- There is a stronger need for teachers to do their own writing.
- Too many genres being taught.
- Not enough time spent on each genre.
- Not enough time spent on extended writing.
- Not enough ‘writing study’ lessons. Lessons that ‘put things together’.
- Children not seeing their teachers enacting in the same activities as them.
- Pupil’s work will improve when their teachers regard themselves as writers.
- Modelling is too often through a pre-prepared text.
Schools that focused on developing teacher’s own writing skills identified increased numbers of children who:
- Perceived themselves as ‘being good at writing’ (up by over 10%)
- Have parents claiming their children ‘write for pleasure outside school’ (up by 24%)
- Say that they enjoy writing (up by 22%) – especially when they are given choice in what they write and/or which genre they can write in.
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**By Phil Ferguson**