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Helping children rediscover the joy of writing

A new writing curriculum for primary school children has been launched today (Wednesday 19th June 2024) to help pupils fall in love with writing while improving their skills, which have been adversely affected by the pandemic. 

The percentage of children reaching the expected standard in writing by the end of Key Stage 2 decreased to 71% in 2023, down from 78% in 2019. As a result, one in three 11-year-olds left primary school last year unable to write at the expected level.  The DfE and Ofsted is now focused on tackling the fall in standards. 

ESSENTIALWRITING, created by HFL Education (formerly Herts for Learning), helps primary school children understand and enjoy the craft of writing. The material enables teachers to look at the curriculum with fresh eyes and impact learning by offering:

  • Renewed focus on writing stamina and sentence structure 
  • Sequenced programme of study – ensuring foundational writing skills are in place before moving on to more complex tasks
  • Quality reading texts – modelling for writing composition and good writerly craft
  • Range of literature choices which are reflective of the world, diverse society – children see positive depictions of themselves
  • Giving choice about what they write about – the flexibility and freedom to be creative and express themselves.

HFL Education Primary English Advisor Michelle Nicholson said: “We want children to fall in love with writing again – Research by the National Literacy Trust found that only 34.6% of children and young people aged between 8-18 enjoyed writing in their free time, but those that did were more likely to do better in school and throughout life.

“We want to ensure children have a voice and a choice as they are developing their writing skills at school, so that they may be more likely to choose to write for pleasure at home which will improve their written skills even more. In the same way as if we support children to read well and read with enjoyment at school, they will read independently at home. All of this improves confidence and life skills in other areas.

“Sadly, many children missed out on developing their skills and appreciation of writing during the pandemic. Writing skills are difficult to teach remotely so many younger children missed out on learning vital foundational skills during lockdown. For older children, the shift to online classwork meant physical writing skills weren’t practised as much as they would have been in the classroom. The cumulative effect has been significant gaps in literacy and language skills.”

HFL Education ran over 20 pilot schemes for the new ESSENTIALWRITING curriculum across a variety of schools in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and London, and they showed real impact. Both children and teachers were measurably more confident around the subject, and children were excited about writing and taking pride in their work.

Mrs Danni Hawtree, English subject leader, St Paul’s Walden Primary School, one of the schools that ran the pilot, said: “The quality and quantity of the work has massively improved. The children have enjoyed the English lessons and the range of different themes. They loved writing for a real purpose and were excited to receive a response and see the impact of their writing. The units are enjoyable to teach because it’s clear and easy with the prompts and models in child-friendly language.” 

HFL Education’s ESSENTIALWRITING curriculum covers the National Curriculum and is designed for years 1 to 6. They will learn to write for a variety of purposes including creating stories and poems, capturing biography and putting together persuasive letters, with an understanding of audiences and purposes. 

For more information about ESSENTIALWRITING or for further advice about how to enhance your school’s primary English offer, please visit www.hfleducation.org/school-improvement/primary/english

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