Writing for a Purpose (or 4!)

For some time now I have been working on a model of teaching Writing built around the idea of longer blocks focusing on fewer things. Previously I have written about a model I used in my previous school, and since then have had many requests for more information.

This year I have finally produced some notes about the model I use, based on 4 Writing Purposes. My view is that rather than trying to teach children 10 or more different ‘genres’ or ‘text types’ as we used to do in the days of the Writing Test, rather it is better to focus on what those types have in common. It means that at my school we use 4 main types of writing across KS1 and KS2: Writing to entertain; to inform; to persuade; and to discuss.*


The 4 main writing purposes, and some of the ‘text types’ that could fall under each.

Importantly, by the end of KS2 I’d hope to see children recognise things like the fact that newspaper articles could actually fall under any or all of the 4 headings: they’re not a distinct type in themselves, really.

As a very rough rule, I’d expect around half of curriculum time to be taken up by “Writing to entertain”, with the remaining non-fiction elements sharing the remaining time. Notably in KS1 the non-fiction focus is only on Writing to inform.


Example guidance note

To support structuring the curriculum in this way, I have now compiled some guidance notes for each category. I say compiled, rather than written, because much of the legwork on these notes was done by my wife – @TemplarWilson – as she rolls out a similar model in her own school.

The guidance notes attempt to offer some indications of National Curriculum content that might be covered in each section. This includes some elements of whole-text ideas, suggestions for sentences and grammar, notes on punctuation to include, and also some examples of conjunctions and adverbials.

They’re not exhaustive, nothing radical, but as ever, if they’re of use to people, then I’m happy to share:
4 Writing Purposes – guidance (click to download)

Alongside the guidance sheets, I also have the large versions of the 4 main roadsign images, and an example text for each of the four purposes. The example texts are probably of more use at the upper end of KS2, and could almost certainly be improved, but they are a starting point for teaching and analysis by the children to draw out key features, etc. Both can be downloaded here:

4 Writing Purposes – Roadsign Images

4 Writing Purposes – Example Texts

*Secondary English teachers may recognise these as being loosely linked to the old writing triplets at GCSE level.


44 thoughts on “Writing for a Purpose (or 4!)

  1. Angela Molyneux 29 August 2016 at 11:01 am Reply

    Thank you Michael, this is really useful.

  2. Helen Morris 29 August 2016 at 4:06 pm Reply

    Could you share the guidance notes? There isn’t a link to it but I’d love to see them…

    • Helen Morris 29 August 2016 at 4:07 pm Reply

      Sorry – just realised that I can click on the example! Doh! Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Charlie 29 August 2016 at 4:15 pm Reply

    Brilliant 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Tarjinder Gill 29 August 2016 at 4:51 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing Michael. How much have you looked into spacing and interleaving? I’m just curious as there doesn’t seem to be a cross-curricular model that would be appropriate for primary schools. Would you mind if I had a play around with your models of writing to include them in such a model? (I would of course refer back to your blog and these materials as they are).

    • Michael Tidd 29 August 2016 at 5:04 pm Reply

      Please, Tarjinder – take it and do what you will with it 🙂

  5. Nicola Leadbeater 29 August 2016 at 5:38 pm Reply

    Thank you this is very helpful.

  6. mrskeane1 29 August 2016 at 9:28 pm Reply

    This just makes sense. Thanks.

  7. Rich Jervis 31 August 2016 at 10:47 am Reply

    Fantastic! Thank you for sharing. This is a creative and well presented document to use.

  8. Jen Pickup 31 August 2016 at 3:07 pm Reply

    A fantastic support for a teacher going into Year 4 from EYFS! Would you mind sharing the guidance notes for the other categories.

    • Michael Tidd 31 August 2016 at 3:23 pm Reply

      If you click on that image, it should download the whole booklet (or click the big heading link)

  9. Beth 31 August 2016 at 7:51 pm Reply

    Hi Michael this is so useful thank you! I have just been made English Manager at my school – we are trying to get away from focusing on text type and focusing instead on the text as a whole. Would you recommend just focusing on 1 purpose for writing in a unit or writing across the different genres?

    • Michael Tidd 31 August 2016 at 10:12 pm Reply

      I’m constantly changing my mind about such things. My current thinking is to do at least two bits of writing for each purpose in any given unit, so that you can make some progress between the two. Sometimes we’ll spend half a term on one purpose. Never set any rule in stone, I say 🙂

  10. Catherine Willson 1 September 2016 at 3:42 pm Reply

    Thank you very much for this, useful as always !

  11. Claire McIllroy 6 September 2016 at 8:12 pm Reply

    I can’t seem to download the example texts link. That would be really useful. Thanks

  12. Kate (@kfishfish) 7 September 2016 at 12:38 am Reply

    I just can’t thank you enough for this. Excited to share with staff!!! THANK YOU

  13. Kirsty O'Brien 8 September 2016 at 6:33 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Shared with my HT today and will will be including it as part of our writing staff meeting on Tuesday. Is there anyway that I can get hold of the Road sign images and the example texts please as the links don’t seem to be working. Thanks,

  14. Catherine Atkinson 17 September 2016 at 4:35 pm Reply

    Hi Michael, Thanks so much for this. I have opened the road sign images but am unable to copy or print them. Am I doing something wrong or are they just to look at?
    Catherine Atkinson

    • Michael Tidd 17 September 2016 at 4:38 pm Reply

      That’s very odd. They are certainly not just for show; I’m not sure what’s causing the issue, though. You are able to see the images?

      • magikatsltd 3 October 2016 at 5:21 pm Reply

        I would guess that you need to unzip the files first before you can copy or print.

  15. Duncan Hutchison 29 September 2016 at 10:58 pm Reply

    Hi Michael, I love this work on purposes, it is something that I have thought a lot about as English Lead. Have you had any thoughts about how a yearly coverage map might look in each year group? I would be interested in your thoughts.

    • Michael Tidd 29 September 2016 at 11:02 pm Reply

      I’ve not given it a huge amount of thought. We probably aim for around 50% Writing to Entertain. My wife’s school has added more structure I think so will ask her to share.

  16. magikatsltd 3 October 2016 at 5:21 pm Reply

    Thank you for this Michael – very informative and great visuals!

  17. Ashley 29 October 2016 at 9:34 am Reply

    Thank you!

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  21. […] has previously blogged about his approach and the rationale behind it here. My blog discusses how my colleagues and I have got this model up and running in our school, and […]

  22. Natalie Rose 2 September 2017 at 7:55 am Reply

    Please can you tell me if these links to any borough”s particular assessment grids, or written with the itaf statements in mind? For example, I can see passive voice is in there as it’s used to inform, but sometimes you can shoehorn it in to a narrative!

    • Michael Tidd 2 September 2017 at 7:58 am Reply

      No, no link to any authority, and certainly no link to the awful ITAF. Just suggested ideas of where content might be covered.

  23. Nicola Williams 8 October 2017 at 9:28 am Reply

    Do you know if anyone has blogged or published about using this approach in years 1 and 2? I would really appreciate some advice on how to best introduce this approach with emerging writers.

    • Michael Tidd 8 October 2017 at 9:30 am Reply

      My only advice is that in KS1 I would only expect to use inform/entertain, and mostly that would be in Y2. Before that, the focus tends to be much more about constructing single sentences or very short sequences.

      • Nicola Williams 8 October 2017 at 2:15 pm Reply

        Thank you! If there is anyone in your school who would be prepared to share practical KS1 implementation ideas, it would be very useful to hear from them.

  24. Martina 12 June 2018 at 4:24 pm Reply

    Hi Michael. Do you have an editable electronic version of the guidance notes for the four writing purposes please? As a school, we love the idea and we’re hoping to start this in September, but want to edit it in line with our school’s long term planning.


  25. Jenna 21 August 2019 at 5:54 pm Reply

    Fantastic – just what I have been looking for!

  26. Ruth Davies 15 September 2019 at 10:13 am Reply

    As always, you manage to cut through so much red tape and nonsense dictated by some insecure slt and make the teaching of writing simpler and more effective. A great starting point for my own school. Many, many thanks.

  27. Emma 1 April 2020 at 8:58 am Reply

    Hi, this is really useful, I am currently looking at our writing progression – do you have any details on essays / campaigns? We don’t currently write these and I was wondering if you used anything in particular / had any examples? Thanks, Emma

  28. Steph Whitehead 28 September 2021 at 8:48 pm Reply

    Is there another way of accessing the Road sign images, when I click the link it is saying Error (forbidden). Thanks Steph

    • Michael Tidd 29 September 2021 at 8:19 pm Reply

      Apologies – the links had been updated by Google. They should work now.

  29. alinash 18 October 2021 at 8:14 am Reply

    Hi, I’m really sorry but I can’t access the texts or signposts via those links. I have managed to download the Writing Purposes document, thank you.

  30. Emma 17 February 2022 at 9:05 pm Reply

    This is really helpful thank you! I can’t seem to access the example texts though? Thanks

  31. Rebecca 9 May 2022 at 9:28 am Reply

    Hello, this is great! We have been using your road maps and they have been so useful. I can’t access the example texts – is there another link? Thank you!

  32. Helen Winslet 6 June 2022 at 9:55 am Reply

    Hi Michael,
    I’ve just discovered you – thank you for the guidance notes. I still can’t seem to download or view the road maps or example texts though, I’ve tried the link from the 22nd May 2022. Any advice please? I love the idea of using road signs, so engaging. Thanks!

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