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Cotmanhay Junior School

Safe, Happy Learning

Our approach



We want our pupils to have a positive attitude to all forms of communication, and to be able to independently express their own ideas and emotions. Our aim is for children to write in different styles and for various purposes and audiences, to develop a wide vocabulary, and to understand the grammar and terminology for their age group, as set out by the National Curriculum. Our writing lessons incorporate the ‘Talk for Writing’ strategies and approach to writing, developed by Pie Corbett. Across the four year groups, each unit of writing is designed to develop sequential writing skills, with planned opportunities for pupils to demonstrate mastery of each skill by applying them across the foundation stage curriculum. To continually strive for improvements to children’s writing progress, Jane Considine’s ‘The Write Stuff’ is being used as a vehicle in year 6 and year 4 to supplement current practice. This is being closely monitored to drive accelerated progress. 


We are ambitious for all our pupils, and pupil groups, including pupil premium, SEND and pupils working at greater depth. Our intent is to continue to improve standards, so that by the end of year 6 more pupils reach the expected and higher standard in their writing. We strive for our pupils to write with consistent basic standards, greater grammatical accuracy, and wish for all pupils to acquire a rich and ambitious vocabulary to use in their writing across the whole curriculum. We want all our pupils to express themselves creatively, and to communicate effectively as they transition to Secondary school. 



Talk for Writing is used as the school’s approach to teaching English. This programme was developed by Pie Corbett, an educational writer and poet.  He is well known for promoting creativity in the classroom, and has experience as a teacher, Head Teacher and OFSTED inspector.  He regularly lectures on education around the world, and the UK government consult with him as an educational advisor.  


Talk for Writing is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version. It is built on three stages of teaching: 


1) Imitation - the children learn a text and the language they need 

2) Innovation - the children adapt the model text with ideas of their own 

3) Invention - the children create their own text using the language and skills that the model taught them 




During this phase, the children create actions to accompany the oral re-telling of the story. They also create story maps, using pictures and symbols, to depict actions and events from the text. The key to success for the children is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. They also begin to look closely at the language and text features that have been used. 



During this phase, the teacher and the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language, whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure. Younger writers or less confident writers may need to stay close to the structure of the model text to build confidence and understanding. More confident writers will come away from the model text, and will explore their own ideas.  Within this phase, we also encourage children to ‘magpie’ good ideas/vocabulary to use in their own writing. Each pupil has their own 'magpie' book to record their ideas.  


The innovation stage enables the children to write their own versions using the toolkit and classroom washing line for support. Additionally, it is during this phase that children look at how they can address their individual writing targets. 



This is when the children are expected to write independently, and apply the skills they have learned. Their final piece of writing is called the ‘hot task’.





At Cotmanhay Junior School, we empower students to know the purpose and audience of their writing. By doing this, children know the ‘why’ behind their work and can write effectively using a variety of genres. As children progress through school, writing stamina improves alongside all other writing domains including handwriting fluency, application of spelling, grammar and punctuation and presentation.  


The aim of Talk for Writing is to develop imaginative, creative and effective writers. We regularly survey our pupils, and listen to their feedback on writing lessons. In 2021, we adapted the shared write process following pupil feedback. We have seen an increase in the percentage of children who say they enjoy writing lessons. Data shows that Talk for Writing schools, despite serving more challenging areas, attain at a significantly higher standard than the national average. Subject monitoring indicates high expectations, and pupils are proud of their work.  


Talk for Writing not only helps students build their skills and understanding during morning English lessons, but it also enables pupils to transfer these skills across the curriculum. Non-fiction writing units such as explanation texts, non-chronological reports and instructions are linked to the foundation curriculum topics. Pupils have the opportunity to apply writing skills in the afternoon lessons, and we have seen an improvement in the quality of writing in subjects like science, history, geography and RE.  



* 2016 - 2019 data. See for further details.  

Rosenshine's 10 Principles of Instruction


Talk for Writing incorporates the research of Professor Rosenshine, who identified the effectiveness of methods and approaches that were practised by the most successful teachers. These are:


  1. Begin the lesson with a review of previous learning.
  2. Present new material in small steps.
  3. Ask a large number of questions (and to all students).
  4. Provide models and worked examples.
  5. Practise using the new material.
  6. Check for understanding frequently and correct errors.
  7. Obtain a high success rate.
  8. Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks.
  9. Independent practice.
  10. Monthly and weekly reviews.


Click the documents below to read more about the 10 Principles and how they are embodied in our Talk for Writing process.