Writing at Sir John Talbot’s School

Writing at The Marches Academy Trust

Since January 2013, the Quality of Written Communication has been a key part of the assessment of some courses at GCSE and A Level. Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) marks are already worth 5% of the total qualification in English Literature, Geography, History and Religious Studies. From September 2015 this aspect was implemented in the assessment of nearly all qualifications. As part of our drive to improve writing skills throughout the school, we realise that we need to provide resources to help students develop their skills beyond the classroom. Many parents and carers often ask us what they can do to support the development of skills at home so we have decided to publish a range of resources to support improving literacy skills across the curriculum.

Helping your child with written work
The ways in which children produce writing can change quite significantly from primary to secondary school.

In the primary classroom, work may be drafted over a longer period of time. The same teacher may teach the child literacy, science, history and maths, and the expectations of written work will be consistent.

In the secondary classroom, many different teachers will ask a child to write. The teachers will not be literacy specialists. Written work will be one part of the learning that goes on in that subject, and the teacher may want to cover a range of activities in a short space of time.

Many children adapt very quickly to the changes and enjoy the stimulation of the variety of teacher and lessons. In some cases, the quality of written work can decline:

  • Some children find the more rapid pace difficult to adapt to.
  • Without a teacher who knows exactly what each student is capable of, in terms of writing, some children are happy to produce work below their best.

Parents have a key role to play here.  When work is being completed at home, they must know that their involvement is welcome.

If you think that the work your son or daughter is producing is significantly below their best, by all means ask them to do it again, or in more detail.  This is what a teacher, who had known what a child had done in the past, would do.  Please simply leave a note for the teacher explaining what you have done.

Sometimes a child will say that their parent is not allowed to help them, or that the teacher only expects a rough or untidy piece of work.  Neither point is true.  In a classroom, a teacher or access leader will try to give as many children as possible as much support as they can.  Parents can do a similar thing, with the added benefit of knowing the child so much better.

Ways parents/carers can help
In the GCSE English exams, for example, students are advised to spend five minutes planning, 35 minutes writing and five minutes checking.  This model works well at all ages and parents can help, particularly in the planning and checking stages.

Good questions to ask when planning:

  • What kind of writing is this? (For example, notes, an evaluation, a description)
  • How should it be set out? (For example, a letter.)
  • How do you set out paragraphs? (Indent, or more usually in word processed writing, miss a line.)
  • When do you start a new paragraph? (Change of subject; in a story, change of time, lace or speaker.)
  • Who is meant to be reading this? (For example, other students, adults, visitors.)

Good questions to ask when checking: 

  • Have you presented your work clearly? Are there any changes that you should make to improve presentation? (for example, in word processing, making the font more formal, setting out paragraphs correctly.)
  • Have you read through it carefully, aloud if possible, to check for errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar?

Have you saved your work under an appropriate name, in the right place?

Writing at Sir John Talbot’s School