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"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write."
-Annie Proulx


What is Writing?

Writing is the process of using symbols (letters of the alphabet, punctuation and spaces) to communicate thoughts and ideas in a readable form.

Writing is the meeting point of experiences, languages and society. It is intimately bound up in an individual’s intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual growth. Such patterns are complex and draw on several disciplines (including psychology and sociology) John Dixon


Why do we study Writing?

Written communication is an exceptional characteristic of the human species. Over hundreds of years, writing has helped individuals to share information, culture and knowledge. Writing is a life skill, not only an essential job-related skill. Regardless of your career or occupation, everyone has to write to communicate with others, whether it is a friendly email, a formal business memo, a report, a job application, a press release or a message of condolence. The effectiveness of your communication can affect your daily life and your life course outcomes.

Writing is personal. It represents us when we are absent in space or time.  Writing expresses who we are, even after our lifetime.  It makes our knowledge, our personal aspirations and our work for the future visible to others. Writing is the means to explain our ideas to ourselves and to others while preserving our personal experiences and our memories. Writing is not fleeting; it is permanent.  It is a record of what you wished to communicate at a point in time.

Writing enables reach to a much larger audience, in many places and over time. If writing was judiciously planned, thoughtfully written and designed for the intended readers, it lives on in the minds of those who read it.


The National curriculum states the purpose of the study of writing as:

The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:

  • transcription (spelling and handwriting)
  • composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)

It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these 2 dimensions. In addition, pupils should be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.

Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.

NB: This curriculum document should be read in conjunction with the Opossum Federation English Reading programme as Reading and Writing significantly overlap.


Through their study of the Opossum Writing curriculum, we intend that pupils will:

1. Use writing to communicate with an audience over time and distance

Pupils will understand the permanence of writing and its role in preserving information, thoughts and ideas for the future. Pupils will write for a range of ‘real purposes’ and ‘real audiences’ with opportunities for their work to be published or performed.


2. Effectively transcribe ideas using accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar

The ability to spell words accurately and arrange them effectively into a sentence with appropriate punctuation is essential for effective written communication


3. Articulate ideas in effective compositions, making powerful vocabulary choices.

Successful communication is dependent on the ability to ‘say what you mean’. Using a range of descriptive words helps the reader envision the content and context of the writing. By including variety in sentences and paragraphs, the reader maintains interest and engagement.


4. Draw on personal experiences and those gained from wide reading as stimuli for own writing

Reading allows the observation of writing, first hand. Readers can experience a range of styles, structures and vocabulary choices when reading widely. When combined with personal experience and imagination, pupils are able to write with effect in a range of genres.


5. Appreciate and practise writing in genres within the domains of fiction, non-fiction and poetry

Writing features in wide-ranging contexts and for numerous purposes in our lives. It is essential that pupils become familiar with a range of genres and develop their expertise in writing in these different styles. This gives them the knowledge to communicate appropriately in writing for a number of purposes and increases their cultural capital as they extend their experience of genres.


6. Write for pleasure

We aim for all pupils to find the joy in writing and to learn there is a pleasure and a power in its practice, rather than simply producing it. We aim for pupils to be able to not only find their ‘creative voice’ by being capable writers but to feel confident to commit their thoughts to the page for either self-reflection or sharing. Being able to write with confidence can provide a safe and private space where individuals can explore their thoughts and track their feelings in a considered way.


Opossum Values

Through their study of writing, Opossum values are realised.

Being respectful - responding sensitively to the work of others and being able to question or challenge the ideas of others

Being aspirational – creating high quality writing with a purpose and for real audiences

Being caring – recognising the significance of writing in caring for ourselves by expressing feelings

Having integrity – understanding the importance of writing our own ideas and crediting authors when their work is referenced.

Being creative – using imagination and our own ideas in writing

Being community minded – recognising how written text can promote improvements in the world e.g. complaints, debate, newspaper reporting


Scope and sequence

Whilst the skills required in the writing process are specific and taught explicitly, writing ability develops as the result of experiences comprising speaking, listening, reading and writing. There is considerable overlap in these aspects of the English programme, which is further enhanced by oracy and visual language activities.


The Opossum English Writing curriculum fulfils the requirements of the National curriculum.

The Opossum curriculum draws on the First Steps Writing Programme to structure the curriculum. First Steps groups writing styles according to their social purpose, these are defined as:

  • Writing to Describe
  • Writing to Socialise
  • Writing to Explain
  • Writing to Instruct
  • Writing to Entertain (poetry and prose)
  • Writing to Recount
  • Writing to Inquire
  • Writing to Persuade

Within each social purpose, a range of genres are experienced over the course of the primary curriculum. Some genres, such as narrative writing, are repeated frequently to secure and embed the key principles of the genre however different contexts or forms may be selected for study. For example, a focus on prose may emphasise adventure, myth or social issue genres in different years – this extends pupils’ knowledge of the possibilities and range of the form.

Writing skills begin in the Early Years with direct and child initiated writing experiences. Children write from both their personal experience and based on activities they have shared in the setting. Writing is modelled by adults and may be generated following talk, activity or storytelling. Children often draw, tell stories about their drawings and initially ‘mark make’ to represent writing. As they begin to apply their phonic knowledge and develop fine motor control, children are able to write their ideas with increasing skill. Texts, such as Traditional Tales, are included in the programme; whilst these may be well-known to some pupils they are less familiar to others. As these stories are commonly referenced in our society, knowledge of these tales ensures all pupils acquire the cultural capital to understand these references.

Throughout KS1, pupils further increase their phonetic skill, form letters accurately and structure their ideas into more complex sentences and passages. Through exposure to a range of texts (written, spoken and visual) and real life experiences, pupils increase their vocabulary and understanding of effective sentence structure. Topics of study reflect familiar contexts, such as direct recount (writing from personal experience), fiction (contemporary texts) and letters. Where appropriate, connections are made with other subjects being studied, for example scheduling a study of Writing to Inquire (Interviews) with a historical study of changes in the local community over time or non-chronological geographical reports to support learning in a Geography study.

Learning in KS2 builds on the foundations laid in EYFS and KS1. Pupils encounter some genres again and each time extend their understanding of the conventions of the style, enabling them to write with increasing effectiveness and fluency. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are taught explicitly and implicitly so that pupils are supported to write with greater technical accuracy. Pupils explore a range of texts, including classic literature, which contributes to their understanding of writing widely as considered culturally significant in modern Britain. These are complemented by the inclusion of contemporary writing and culturally diverse texts to support learning about a specific genre. Where appropriate, inter-disciplinary links are made with other subjects in the curriculum. For example, a study of ‘Beowulf’ provides hinterland learning opportunities  for historical study of the Anglo-Saxons and Viking periods. Where links do not naturally occur, the integrity of the study is not compromised by insecure or tenuous connections.


Throughout the curriculum (EYFS-KS2), handwriting skills are prioritised to ensure pupils develop a legible and fluent style. In recognition of the role of digital devices in communication, keyboard skills are introduced to encourage correct hand placement and competent typing.