Evenlode Primary has made it a priority to improve the writing of more able pupils throughout the school. An ex-parent of the school, who has experience as a specialist language teacher, has enabled many older pupils to succeed in developing their extended writing skills. He worked successfully with pupils on a wide variety of effective strategies and techniques to improve their creative writing, incorporating the techniques of professional authors.
Information about the school
Evenlode Primary School is a community school in the western suburb of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan. It has around 450 pupils between the ages of four and eleven years. Very few pupils are eligible to receive free school meals. English is the predominant language of the pupils.
Context and background to the effective practice
The school caters for many able pupils across all year groups. Over the last few years, it has been a priority to improve the writing of more able pupils throughout the school. Working in partnership with an ex-parent of the school, who has experience as a specialist language teacher, has enabled many older pupils to succeed in developing their extended writing skills.
Description of activity/strategy
The school implemented a strategy to extend the writing skills of more able pupils in Year 6. This strategy required pupils to attend a weekly half-day session with an ex-parent, who is a specialist language teacher. Working with the local comprehensive school's Year 8 pupils, the school’s more able Year 6 pupils were required to read a specific novel and use its structure as a narrative framework to help them write their own extended story over the course of a year. The process involved innovative homework, highly effective and unique classroom teaching strategies and parental support through weekly contact and termly meetings.
The specialist worked successfully with pupils on a wide variety of effective strategies and techniques to improve their creative writing. He based his creative writing and literacy programme on vocabulary acquisition and simple writing techniques used by professional authors.
Liaison with the local comprehensive school's English department enabled Year 6 and Year 8 pupils to participate in peer mentoring and editing which, in turn, led to the Year 6 pupils acting as peer mentors to Year 5 and Year 4 pupils. This increased their confidence and improved their wellbeing.
The pupils taking part in the programme have a confidence and flair for creative and non-fiction writing that is infectious, and all pupils produced their own novels of between 12 and 16 thousand words. Many of those pupils have a reading age of between 13 and 14 years.
Impact on provision and standards
Many pupils who took part in the programme produced work in oracy, writing and reading at level 6 in English. As a result of the success of the initiative, a second cohort of pupils are currently working on the programme.
The Year 5 pupils who were mentored during the first phase of the programme were very keen to participate demonstrating a passion for writing.