Tag Archives: KS2

National Curriculum Test videos

I’ve updated the videos I made last year to explain the KS1 and KS2 tests to parents. As there is an option about using the Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling tests in primary schools, there are now two versions of the video for KS1 (one with, one without the GPS tests).

Please feel free to use these videos on your school’s website or social media channels, or in parent meetings, etc. There are MP4 versions available to download.

Key Stage 2

Re-tweetable version:

Facebook shareable version:
https://www.facebook.com/primarycurriculum/videos/1311921482187352/

Downloadable MP4 file: https://goo.gl/b0Lo9v

Key Stage 1 – version that includes the GPS tests

Re-tweetable version:

Facebook shareable version:
https://www.facebook.com/primarycurriculum/videos/1311921482187352/

Downloadable MP4 file: https://goo.gl/jo18qk

Key Stage 1 – version for schools not using the GPS tests

Re-tweetable version:

Facebook shareable version:
https://www.facebook.com/primarycurriculum/videos/1311921482187352/

Downloadable MP4 file:  https://goo.gl/xMDFSJ

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KS2 Results – Frequently Asked Questions

After a late night, and reasonably early morning, there are a few common questions coming up, so here’s my attempt to answer them:

What’s the national data like?

national

Full set of data available from gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-curriculum-assessments-key-stage-2-2016-interim

What about the floor standard?

We don’t really know much yet, so it’s too soon to panic! The floor standard is based on two elements: attainment and progress.

Nationally 53% of pupils met the combined Reading, Writing & Maths standards. However, that doesn’t tell us much about how many schools have met that floor standard. Large numbers of those 53% will be in the same schools – and some schools will have none of them. I’d expect the final figure for schools to be a much lower percentage reaching the combined attainment floor standard.

Because of that, this year the floor standard will come down to progress more than ever. We won’t know anything about progress data until September, so for many headteachers it could feel like a long summer holiday – and not in a good way!

Where are the ‘Greater Depth’ thresholds?

There is no threshold for ‘Greater Depth’. Indeed, for tested subjects, there is no ‘Greater Depth’ at all. The scaled score indicates how far above the expected standard a child is, so there is no need for a label. After all, where would the benefit be in saying that a child who scored 117 is high achieving but a child who scored 116 isn’t, when clearly they both are?

There will be an accountability measure that schools have to publish later that is linked to “high scores”, but this is likely to be a combined measure, for example, the proportion of pupils who achieved over 115 in all 3 tested subjects. Note, that I’ve just picked 115 out of thin air. We don’t know what will be counted as a high score, and for the purposes of reporting to parents and children, we don’t need to know.

How on earth do we report this to parents?parentguide

Schools are required to share test results and teacher assessment judgements with parents. I suspect that MIS suppliers will provide a template that allows you to print a separate sheet to give to parents alongside reports. I’ve also written a free leaflet which can be downloaded from the Rising Stars website that helps to explain the results to parents:

 

 

How do we calculate our combined RWM score?

The key thing to note with this is that it is based on the number of individual children who have met all 3 subjects,  not an average of the three subjects’ results. To find your combined RWM score, you need to look at each child to decide whether or not they have met all 3 subjects Expected Standards. For example, in this small cohort, 5 out of the 8 pupils did meet all 3 standards, so the combined RWM score will be 62.5%.
Note that the grammar score does not contribute to the floor standards.

data

What does CA mean on my results?

This means that special consideration has been granted. More details can be found on the STA website here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/key-stage-2-tests-applying-special-consideration-to-results
Notably, it won’t affect the scaled score at this stage, but will be accounted for when it comes to accountability. Schools have to choose how to explain that to parents.

Can I appeal if they got a scaled score of 99?

You can still apply for marking reviews this year. If it affects the scaled score by moving from over the threshold, or if it affects the raw score by more than 3 marks, then there is not charge. You can submit review requests via NCA tools within the next 10 days. More details online at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/key-stage-2-tests-how-to-apply-for-a-review-of-key-stage-2-results

Where are the markschemes?

All the markschemes can be downloaded from the gov.uk website here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/key-stage-2-tests-past-papers

Collecting KS2 data on Teacher Assessment

Having had over 100 schools respond to my plea to share data from KS1 Scaled Score tests, the next big issue on the horizon is the submission of Teacher Assessment data at the end of June.

In the hope of providing some sort of indication of a wider picture, I am now asking schools with Year 6 cohorts to share their data for Teacher Assessment this year, as well as comparison data for 2015. As with all the previous data collections, it won’t be conclusive, or even slightly reliable… but it will be something other than the vacuum that currently exists.

So, if you have a Year 6 cohort, please do share your Teacher Assessment judgements via the survey below:

 

KS1 & KS2 tests – videos for parents

At my school we’re increasingly using the school website and Facebook pages to communicate with families, particularly aiming to reach those who are not so easily able to attend after-school meetings and events.

I also sometimes wonder if parents meetings don’t end up being overly long-winded because we feel that if we’ve dragged parents into school then we ought to make it worth their while coming; nobody wants to travel 20 minutes each way for a 5-minute meeting. But sometimes, 5 minutes is enough.

I have now put together two videos for parents of our children in Y2 and Y6 to give them an overview of the National Curriculum tests. I’ve stripped out the school logo, etc. and am now sharing them for anyone who wants to make use of them.

You can link to it via your school website or facebook page using the URL (https://youtu.be/nF1n1g4CePI) or the YouTube sharing tools.

EDIT – I’ve now added a KS1 video too:

Again, you can link directly (https://youtu.be/M8MjPFWRQs0), or share/download the video as you wish.

The videos are available for direct download from my Google Drive via the links here, for schools who wish to top-and-tail with their own content or school logo, etc. I do ask, though, that you leave the main body, including the final slide with my details, in tact – or contact me directly if you want to make other changes. The downloads of the full videos are available from these links:

Key Stage 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxDHhjOLp-QWeUlnSUJjTTItb00/view?usp=sharing

Key Stage 2: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxDHhjOLp-QWbHFRZ2FISi1aQ3M/view?usp=sharing

To download a copy for your own use, click the small download triangle at the top of the screen.

Achieve100You may also be interested in the free booklets for parents that explains the tests in more detail. These are available from the Rising Stars website at

http://www.risingstars-uk.com/Subjects/Revision/Achieve-100-KS1/Free-Stuff/The-2016-National-Tests-A-Parent%E2%80%99s-Guide

40 Books & Films for KS2

This is an idea stolen entirely from my better half – @TemplarWilson. For the past few years I have eschewed the carousel method of Guided Reading in favour of whole-class teaching, based on the ideas she set out in her post: Our Solutions to the Problems with Guided stormbreakerReading.

One of the approaches her team tried, and that I’ve tried on occasion, is to read a novel as a whole-class text over a half-term or so, and then compare the book to the film at the end of the unit. I found it worked fantastically well with Anthony Horowitz’s Stormbreaker, where my Y5 and Y5/6 classes have been gripped by the book, and were also quickly able to highlight the flaws of the film.

Consequently, I put out a request a few days ago via Twitter for recommendations of other books that have also been brought to the screen. I was greeted with many responses which I’ll share now. I should point out that I originally asked for suggestions for upper KS2, but I’d welcome further suggestions, including for other age groups, in the comments.

The List (so far…)

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) (Lemony Snicket)

The BFG (Roald Dahl) – a choice of films, now

The Borrowers (Mary Norton) – I’d say the TV series was better than the film

The Boy in the Dress (David Walliams)

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne)

Carrie’s War (Nina Bawden)

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)

Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)

The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau)

Coraline (Neil Gaiman) – although it might be too scary for some

Danny the Champion of the World (Roald Dahl)

Fantastic Mr Fox (Roald Dahl)

The Giver (Lois Lowry) – definitely check out the issues in this before reading!

Goodnight Mister Tom (Michelle Magorian)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (JK Rowling)

Heidi (Johanna Spyri)

Holes (Louis Sachar)

How to Train your Dragon (Cressida Cowell)

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznick) – not widely available in the UK

The Iron Man (Ted Hughes)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)

Matilda (Roald Dahl) – well worth seeing the musical version, in my opinion.

Millions (Frank Cottrell Boyce)

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness) – film not due out until late 2016

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Robert C. O’Brien)

Northern Lights (Philip Pullman) – soon to be made into a BBC series, I believe.

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan)

The Princess Bride (William Goldman)

The Railway Children (E. Nesbit)

Secret Garden (Francis Hodgson Burnett)

Skellig (David Almond)

The Spiderwick Chronicles (Holly Black & Terry DiTerlizzi)

Stardust (Neil Gaiman)

Stormbreaker (Anthony Horowitz)

Swallows & Amazons (Arthur Ransom)

Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)

War Game (Michael Foreman)

War Horse (Michael Morpurgo)

Why the Whales Came (Michael Morpurgo)

How secure is secure?

One of the (many) challenges of the new world of assessment is knowing just how much of the curriculum a child needs to secure to be on track to achieve the vital scaled score of 100 in the new tests. This week we got a little glimmer of help on this front, when the new test frameworks were published.

Now, I should stress from the start that I don’t offer this as a guaranteed measure (far from it), or even necessarily advise that you take any notice of it. But for those people looking closely at the new expectations, it’s certainly a matter of interest. I have started going through the performance descriptors tucked away in the new test frameworks which outline “the typical characteristics of pupils in Year 6 (or Year 2) working at the threshold of the expected standard”

The DfE themselves include a couple of caveats here which are worth noting, that the frameworks are not designed for teacher assessment or to guide teaching and learning (full text below). Nevertheless, the importance placed on the tests mean that it is useful for schools to have this information as a guide. It is my intention to repeat this process for each test, but I have started with Maths as it is the most straightforward.

The first key thing to note is that there appears to be a real difference in expectations of ‘coverage’ across the two key stages. The criteria for scoring 100 on the KS1 test match almost exactly with the specifications of the Year 2 curriculum: in essence, children will need to have learned almost the entire KS1 curriculum to be ‘on-track’ for scoring 100 in the KS1 Maths tests.

By contrast, the framework seems to show that children will not be expected to be secure in the entirety of the primary curriculum to reach the expected score of 100. In fact, in mathematics, it looks as though achieving around 60% of the Year 6 criteria securely should be just about sufficient to reach the golden score of 100. That’s based on cross-referencing each of the 48 Y6 curriculum objectives against the statements from the performance descriptor. Alongside this, it appears that almost the entire spread of Y5 objectives will be needed at a secure level. Neverthless, this is a good deal less than some of us feared (I had previously been aiming for 85% security as a minimum).

Interestingly, if you strip the objectives back to the 30 I set out in my Key Objectives documents, then the 60% threshold still holds true. If you’re using only the NAHT’s Key Performance Indicators, then the percentage will need to rise to around 70% (as there are far fewer of these).

You can download the full document to see the direct comparison between Y5/6 maths objectives (taken directly from the National Curriculum) and the item from the performance descriptor here:

comparison

I shall endeavour to repeat the process for the Reading and GPS tests (although reading is much harder to pin down) if I can. I have now looked at the other subjects, and it’s worth being aware that 70% does not look like a universal requirement; it’s much harder to separate out the content for the GPS tests because of the way the curriculum is (poorly) organised, and it’s virtually impossible to draw comparisons for the Reading statements because the statutory curriculum is very broad and focuses largely on discussion and teaching approaches rather than outcomes. Nevertheless, I’ve tried to draw the comparisons as best I can, and it seems that for the other subjects children will be expected to be familiar with almost the entire curriculum content. I have attached the relevant curriculum comparison documents here:

Compare Y1-2 GPS objectives to framework

Compare Y2 Maths objectives to framework

Compare Y2 Reading objectives to framework

Compare Y5-6 GPS objectives to framework

Compare Y5-6 Maths objectives to framework

Compare Y5-6 Reading objectives to framework


Caveats taken directly from the Maths test framework:

The framework specifies the purpose, format, content and cognitive domains of the key stage 2 mathematics tests; it is not designed to be used to guide teaching and learning or to inform statutory teacher assessment.

This performance descriptor describes the typical characteristics of pupils whose performance in the key stage 2 tests is at the threshold of the expected standard. Pupils who achieve the expected standard in the tests have demonstrated sufficient knowledge to be well placed to succeed in the next phase of their education, having studied the full key stage 2 programme of study in mathematics. This performance descriptor will be used by a panel of teachers to set the standards on the new tests following their first administration in May 2016. It is not intended to be used to support teacher assessment since it reflects only the elements of the programme of study that can be assessed in a paper-based test

A mastery model for Writing: moving away from the text type treadmill

hell

Are we deceiving ourselves about cohesion?
(Cartoon from xkcd.com/724)

I wrote back in the autumn of 2013 about how I found the endless march through text types to be ineffective in really securing children’s skills in Writing. I have spoken at several events since about how our perception of a joined-up curriculum in primary schools may not be conveyed as well as we like to the children we teach. We often build our writing tasks around a common topic or text and describe this as building a coherent curriculum, but too often the cohesion is in the topic, and not in the skill of writing. I have likened this in the past to trying to build a wall with bricks simply by dropping lots of randomly-shaped bricks and hoping they’ll fall into place.

This year, I have tried to improve on this model by bringing greater coherence to the curriculum for Writing. That doesn’t necessarily mean moving away from thematic teaching, nor necessarily moving away from using the text types. However, my intention has been to adopt some of the principles of the mastery model that I discussed in my original blog: focussing on fewer aspects of writing for a greater length of time.

Initially, this was based on identifying common strands through the units we were intending to teach (see details in first blog). Later, however, I began to adapt the text types we were using to ensure that we spent longer focussing on common strands. The idea here was to group the text types together slightly to ensure that we spend longer focussing on common features rather than racing through the various types hoping that some of the content we threw at the children would stick!

Our initial model ended up looking something like this:

Writing Mastery model

Click to download PDF version

Over the course of the year we continued our usual units of study, with writing tasks adapted to focus on some common themes. Generally I would say that this has been a successful approach. I’m not convinced that it made any substantial difference to our progress in Writing this year, but I do think that the children have been – and will be – able to retain more of their knowledge of each of the genres, and so will be able to draw upon that knowledge more effectively in the future. One of my concerns of the race through the text types has been the lack of retention of the main features, meaning that almost every unit of work becomes a revision unit rather than developing further skill, at first at least.

As I approach the new year, however, I think there is more that could be done to develop this cohesion within and across year groups. Traditionally many schools have repeated the structure of the old Literacy framework by trying to get through many text types in each year, re-visiting regularly. My preference is to group the text types such that over the period of 6 weeks there are opportunities to learn and employ some of the key features. This has led me to a model based very loosely on the GCSE writing triplets:

Mastery Writing model

Click to download PDF

I realise that this clear division into fiction and non-fiction blocks will fill some teachers with dread. Many teachers have a preference for one strand or the other, and so find the through of a whole half-term without their favoured type quite daunting. I can understand this, but our focus has to be on providing the most effective curriculum design to help our students to retain the key elements of learning.

The advantages of this approach are hopefully evident at least in part. By focussing on some common areas over a half-term, there are opportunities for students to experience, employ and adapt the various features and techniques being taught. Significantly, it will be possible to share with parents more detail of what is being covered in Writing, since the focus will be narrower. This also allows us to use target-setting more effectively, as students are able to learn from early pieces in the half-term and apply the target in the next piece. This replaces a system where too often children (particularly in upper KS2) have writing targets which are not particularly relevant to the text types/genres being taught.

Obviously this is just a broad example which doesn’t link directly to any topics or themes that are being taught. As with all models, it wouldn’t be possibly to transfer it wholesale from school to school because it would work best when properly aligned with the wider curriculum. However, hopefully it may provide an interesting discussion point for schools thinking about tackling the content of the new curriculum?

Comments welcomed!

Mastery Maths in KS2

Around this time last year I started reading about the work of the Ark group and Mathematics Mastery. So it was that as I moved to KS2 in September, I set about leading my year team – and an adjoining one – on a mastery maths journey. We’ve not reached the end-point yet, but it seems to be a hot topic at the moment, and following on from Bruno Reddy’s great blog about how he’d tackled mastery maths at Secondary, I thought it would be worth sharing what we’d done in KS2.

My initial thinking was led by what I’d read about the Ark scheme, and then built on by what I read in Dan Willingham’s excellent “Why don’t students like school?” about how children learn. It was soon put into context by my early experience in KS2. Having moved from KS3 I had previously taught maths sets; now I would be teaching a mixed ability group at a very different level. In KS3 I had previously moved towards what I’d considered to be longer blocks of two or sometimes three weeks on a unit. That had worked quite well for the high ability groups, but it had become clear for others it had still been too much too fast. I hadn’t previously been dealing with the need to teach and learn tables, or introduce area, but it felt like this was a good way of getting it right!

As the new curriculum was on the horizon, it was a useful starting point, and seemed to fit rather well with the mastery approach anyway. I began by mapping out broad units, using a model based very loosely on the Mathematics Mastery secondary curriculum map. It has’t held fast all year, but it provided a perfectly good starting point.

Year 5 Mastery Overview draft

Year 5 Mastery Overview draft

It meant that the first half term of the academic year was spent almost exclusively on place value and addition/subtraction. Within that we drew in elements which related to those skills. So, it seemed a sensible time to tackle in aspects like calculating perimeter, or finding missing angles on a straight line. Interestingly, there are plenty of similarities between our plan and that of KSA, particularly in that first term. See also what it says about separating minimally-different concepts (such as area & perimeter!)

In the Spring term, we took the step of spending a whole half-term on fractions. I’ll be honest, I was nervous about it. It’s never been my favourite area to teach, and rarely is it students favourite area to study. However, the system seems to have paid off. Knowing that we had weeks to spend on it meant that we weren’t afraid to take the time to secure the basics before launching into the higher level skills suitable to their age. And we weren’t abandoning it for another topic just as they were getting into things.

thinkingblocksWhat’s more, I drew on the things I’d seen of the Singapore bar method to really secure understanding of fractional calculations. We’d been using thinkingblocks.com in school as a general problem-solving tool, but it seems that for fractions this approach really comes into its own. It allowed the children clearly to visualise the problems we were tackling, and to secure a much clearer understanding of why mathematical approaches worked. I cannot speak highly enough of the bar model in the context of mastery!

We haven’t been working on this approach for anything like as long as Bruno Reddy’s school, but initial results look positive. We’ve trialled the approach in Years 4 and 5 and seen a substantial improvement in ability to master the key methods, as well as spending more time to drive a focus on number bonds and tables. It seems that the approach will likely be even more successful in data terms once the new KS2 tests begin with the additional arithmetic paper!

Although it’s early days for us, some of the most significant evidence of success has come from the teams teaching the curriculum. Not all were sold on the idea at the beginning, but it has garnered the support and enthusiasm of those involved because it’s working! You can see it in the progress made by groups who traditionally do well, but perhaps more importantly in the successes of those learners who might traditionally have found making progress more challenging!

There’s still plenty to iron out and tweaks to be made over the coming years as different cohorts come up with different experiences. I still don’t think I’ve spent enough time and effort on securing number bond and tables knowledge – despite finding myself in every week’s work saying at some point “Now, can you see why it helps to know your tables?”. I still think we can do more to incorporate the important stages of concrete and representational development before the abstract. It’s not perfect yet.

But I can no longer imagine teaching any other way. Five years ago I was arguing that we needed to move away from week-long planning for maths; now I’d argue that anything less than six weeks is probably doing our students a disservice!

Ask me next summer how it’s paying off in terms of KS2 results!

Cohesion in the teaching of Writing

I posted a blog back in October about my view that perhaps there is something more we could take from the ‘mastery’ model of learning that would apply to English. Since then I have worked with the idea and am increasingly feeling that the way in which the average primary school teaches Writing objectives could be better organised to provide a cohesive programme of learning for students.

Two key threads have run through my thinking in the past few months: ‘de-contextualisation’ and ‘transferability’.

Firstly, many primary school teachers are happy with the concept that learning objectives ought to be ‘de-contextualised’, as widely promoted by Shirley Clarke and others. Now, it happens that I don’t always and entirely agree with this. In fact, I very rarely agree with any systems that stipulate unbreakable rules for teaching. Nevertheless, there is much to value in the idea that learning objectives should focus clearly on the intended learning of knowledge or skills, rather than simply learning ‘about’ a theme. Examples often stated include ideas like replacing “To write instructions for making a sandwich” with “To write instructions”.

I happen to think that such a change is generally positive. It focuses the child (and teacher) on the particular teaching and learning that is intended. After all, the sandwich-making really is just a context in which to develop knowledge and understanding of the instruction genre itself.

However, one of the arguments in support of such a change is that it develops transferable learning. Others more knowledgeable than me (Daisy Christodoulou, Daniel Willingham, Harry Webb, etc.) have discussed and demonstrated frequently the challenges of transferring learning, and it seems that the cognitive evidence is clear that transfer is considerably more difficult than it might appear. So if the learning cannot be transferred, is ‘de-contextualising’ objectives worth it?

In fact, I think we need to go a step further – at least as children get older. I think we can take the advantages of ‘de-contextualising’ learning and combine it with some of what we know about mastery to try to build up more secure knowledge in our students about how to write well.

Currently, it seems that the vast majority of primary schools organise the curriculum around ‘topics’ or ‘themes’. For example, I will be teaching “Victorians” after half term. Teachers go to some lengths to select writing opportunities and genres which fit well with the theme, presumably in an effort to provide some sense of cohesion.

However, this leads to that same problem of valuing context over content. Inspectors and Senior Leaders are now well used to asking children “what are you learning?”, and while in an individual lesson a student may be able to point to specific objective, over the half-term or term, it is very much the context which dominates. In Writing this can often mean students tackling 4 or 5 different genres across a half-term which leap from one technique to another, while providing only the cohesion of a humanities theme.

What I propose, and indeed have started to do in my own class, is that we need to adjust the balance. Not throw out topics – far from it – but think a little more carefully about how we provide a clearer picture of learning for our students. After all, if a child writes a persuasive advert for a schoolbag in the autumn term, what hope have they of applying those common skills in a persuasive argument about Victorian child labour, if we haven’t made clear to them that persuasion has some common features whatever the context?

I have tried to focus all of my over-arching Writing themes on writing for a purpose, in the sense of affecting the reader in some ways. I think this is useful because it can link so clearly to their own reading, but also because I feel that purpose is at the heart of understanding how to write effectively.

So, back to my Victorians theme. Rather than selecting writing genres which provide nice topic-links, I have selected topic-links which provide effective learning links. I have selected as my over-arching theme “Influencing the reader”. We will teach four main writing texts, all of which focus on affecting the viewpoint of the reader, with some common strands regardless of the specific outcome. Of course, this may change as we progress through the unit, but the intention is that it will include:

Persuasive Article – extolling the virtues of a “new” Victorian invention (perhaps in a competition for best invention of the 19th Century?)
Descriptive Writing – based on aspects of Oliver Twist, using vocabulary particularly to create a sense of place (such as on entering Fagin’s Den)
Formal Persuasive Letter – applying for a servant’s position (based on our visit to a local Victorian Manor house)
Informal personal letter – writing home about the hard labour of being in service

Each of these texts would often be found in a “Victorians” topic, so the change is not radical. What is different is the selection of the texts around a common theme. Over the course of the half-term, we will be able to clearly draw out the common threads of writing to influence the reader. It means that by Easter I expect children to both know and apply their knowledge of how to affect the reader’s point of view. They should recognise that they can do this through well-selected vocabulary to accentuate positives/negatives accordingly; that they can use connective phrases to add further evidence, or contrasting detail to support their point; that selection of the appropriate tone is important in achieving your intended effect.

Hopefully this knowledge will be related more closely to the purpose of the writing than the specific genres, so that a persuasive newspaper article, or leaflet, or debate argument in the future becomes linked to those “influence the reader” techniques, more than to previous newspapers, leaflets or arguments.

Significantly, by organising writing into ‘themes’ such as this, target-setting and monitoring can become much more effective. I have long been disappointed by the willingness to set targets for students which they either cannot understand, or will not have sufficient opportunity to apply. This structure will allow me to set targets which specifically link to the focus of our work over the half term. For some of my low level 3 writers that might be using adjectives to expand on descriptions in a positive or negative way, while some of those working towards level 5 might begin to use nominalization for effect (This tragedy…) or make use of well-selected purposeful vocabulary. They will all have opportunities to use and apply those skills over the course of the unit enough times to secure their understanding of what is being asked of them.

What’s more, where intervention is needed for those students who are not picking up the learning, there will be scope for quick identification, intervention and perhaps most importantly, further opportunities to apply and embed that learning before racing on to something completely new.

Of course, this isn’t going to transform writing overnight. But hopefully it might go some way to tackling the challenges of transferral of learning, as well as securing much clearer understanding of what has been learned and how and when it can be used again in the future.

As schools prepare for changing their units of work to meet the requirements of the new curriculum, perhaps considering how the focus on Writing can move from topic links to genre links might help to support students in mastering the skills of good writing across a range of genres.