English Writing


Valued – Inspired – Prepared

Westhaven School is a unique learning environment with high expectations for learners who experience barriers to learning for a range of reasons. We promote a calm environment which enables everyone to learn. The golden thread that permeates our curriculum and our conduct through every school day are the core values which shape our learners to be:

  • safely independent
  • confident communicators
  • respectful citizens
  • resilient learners
  • inquisitive thinkers

The Writing Curriculum 
(Click to open the Curriculum Map)

At Westhaven, our English curriculum promotes language development which equips learners to communicate effectively and to appreciate the richness and power of the written word.  It enables learners to see language as a source of pleasure and enjoyment and use it to develop creativity and inventiveness. Our English curriculum has been developed to recognise the importance of English in every aspect of daily life and to develop children’s love of reading and writing. We aim to empower our learners with the confidence and knowledge to communicate in written and spoken form as well as being able to interpret the world which we live in. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their achievements.

Writing at Westhaven

We recognise that the ability to interpret the world and communicate effectively is a key feature of the English curriculum. Exploring all genres of literature enables our learners to learn more about our world and its history and become valued members of society. Reading is at the heart of our curriculum.

The golden thread that permeates our curriculum and our conduct through every school day are the core values which shape our learners to be:

  • safely independent – English is all around us and will unlock many areas in life. From accessing bills to enjoying a good book. Being able to interpret the written word/signs and symbols allows humans to communicate independently. 
  • confident communicators – English helps individuals to express themselves in the most effective way. Your thoughts, feelings and knowledge should be passed on in a most desirable manner and effective communication with English helps you.
  • respectful citizens – English and reading exposes us to many different cultures and ways of life which we begin to understand through discussion. The spoken word allows us to communicate and this is the most important element of human connection. Therefore promoting citizenship and respect.
  • resilient learners – Speaking, reading and writing are never easy to learn.  There are many obstacles which need to be overcome and resilience  is a valuable life lesson and one that we hold in high regard at Westhaven.      
  • inquisitive thinkers – Showing curiosity and asking questions is an essential part of learning and life. Acquiring new knowledge and to learn the explanation of things even when the learning is not immediately apparent. It motivates you to discover truths. 

Implementation and our curriculum map

The Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets standards for the learning and development of children from birth to five years old, is followed by reception. In KS1 and KS2 we follow the national curriculum and study a focus text which will often link to wider areas of our curriculum. For example in Term 5 Cycle A KS1’s science topic is Plants. The key text in English for that term links closely with plants and is called Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French. Each term builds on previous learning and is mapped out carefully to ensure that progression is clear. In KS3, our Preparing to Learn and Ready to Learn classes follow schemes of learning with topics taken from the National Curriculum genre requirements such as Shakespeare, pre-1914 English literature and post-1945 English poetry. We adapt our curriculum to ensure that learner’s needs and styles are met follow and often incorporate the TEACCH approach. At KS4, the English curriculum is linked to the qualification studied – Entry Level, Functional Skills or GCSE, depending on ability and at KS5 pupils work on their functional English skills to prepare them for adult life. Our curriculum focuses on key skills such as writing for a purpose including letters. Poetry has a focus throughout KS1, KS2 and KS3 as we believe that poetry is a route into reading. Its rhythms and patterns can introduce children to a range of reading skills. Its rhythms and patterns can introduce children to a range of reading skills. Poetry can be a rich experience and is a fantastic way of learning how language works. In Key Stage 3 Poetry there is a whole term which focuses on poems from around the world.

Our writing culture

Our writing culture is embedded across the school with high expectations for learners and staff. We want to ensure that the standards we have in English are weaved through all subjects. Which means you may find learners segmenting their spellings in a science lesson or applying the PEEL technique within an RE lesson. This transference of skills is a key feature in how we embed the learning which happens in our school.

Our writing environment

To achieve an environment which promotes our English curriculum all classrooms have a designated reading area. Learners have all the aids they need when approaching a writing task such as writing slopes, wobble chairs or a simple pencil grip. At Westhaven we celebrate each individual’s learning journey which creates an environment which nourishes learning and celebrates overcoming obstacles.

Our approach to teaching writing

At Westhaven we believe that when a learner is immersed in a rich text they will gain a better understanding of the writing devices the author has used and thus be able to understand and apply the techniques they have explored in their own writing. We believe that writing is an essential life skill and as we link our wider curriculum to the interpretation of writing. We believe that writing should be fun and enjoyable and we celebrate each learners progress.

Voice 21 School

From September 2023 Westhaven will be taking part in Voice 21. Voice 21’s mission is to transform the learning and life chances of young people through talk so that all children can use their voice for success in school and in life.  Why does oracy matter? A high-quality oracy education is vital to not only improve academic outcomes of students but also to foster their confidence and wellbeing.

Our handwriting scheme

Writing is central to our curriculum at Westhaven. Our handwriting scheme is tailored to our children and highlights the importance of gross motor skill development in the first instance. The specific development of fine motor skills is constantly worked on and the progression of pencil grip is studied closely by class teachers to ensure that learners receive the correct guidance. Specific letter formation patters are taken from Unlocking Letters and Sounds (our phonics program) to ensure that there is consistency across the school. Learners will be taught cursive when they are ready to begin joining letters.  Learners in KS2 work towards obtaining their pen license and at the start of KS3 all learners will begin to use a pen. Learners will then work towards a presentation award where they are showing consistent high standards of presentation. For our full handwriting scheme including appendices please contact the school office.

Helicopter stories

At Westhaven we celebrate each learner’s creativity and aim to ensure that their story is heard. From September 2022 Lower school learners have had the opportunity to specifically be part of Helicopter stories. This creative child-centered approach to storytelling has enhanced our learners’ social skills, communication skills and storytelling. Lower school learners receive opportunities to engage with helicopter stories regularly and all stories are celebrated and collected in small folders over the year.

Helicopter Stories: Giving Every Child a Voice – Westhaven School

Home-school partnership

We are always keen in our drive to involve parents in all elements of our school. We keep families updated with the key text each class is focusing on through our termly newsletter. Weekly spellings are sent out to practice at home via learners home-school diary and learners are encouraged to practice these at home. Links to our handwriting patters and letter formation practice sheets are available on our website.


English lessons vary across the school. In Lower school learners will receive daily phonics/SPAG, English, 1:1 reading and Love 2 Listen sessions. This is also accompanied by Spoken Language lessons and for Ready to Learn classes there is guided reading. In Middle school Learners will receive daily Phonics/SPAG lessons along with three hours of English lessons per week, Love 2 listen sessions, 1:1 reading and dedicated spoken language lessons. In Upper school Learners receive three hours of English lessons per week along with dedicated spoken language lessons, daily Love 2 Listen and 1:1 reading sessions.

Assessment and monitoring

Strong AFL is in place and each learner’s progress is tracked and monitored. 
We also use the Salford Sentence Reading Test and/or GL online reading (and spelling) assessments. 
Where appropriate, our learners may take part in the phonic screening assessment in year 1 (and 2), and the statutory reading assessments at the end of KS1 and KS2. In KS4 and KS5, learners follow qualification pathways. 
At the end of KS1 and KS2 teachers will attend North Somerset’s Moderation meetings to ensure that teacher judgements are accurate and robust. 
Where, through classroom AFL, a learner is identified as falling behind, intervention is used to ensure that progress is maintained.

Spelling, punctuation and Grammar (SPAG)

SPAG is taught sequentially and follows the national curriculum. Learners receive specific SPAG teaching once they have completed all phases of phonics. SPAG is also taught discretely within English and phonics lessons. Teachers follow clear progression documents which aid planning. These can be requested if you wish to view them. As an accompaniment Westhaven also has access to Sumdog specifically the spelling and grammar games. This can be used at home and at school as a tool to aid deeper understanding.

What Ofsted says

“English is so much more than the gateway to success in other curriculum subjects. Through studying literature, pupils’ eyes are opened to the human experience; they explore meaning and ambiguity as well as the beauty and power of language. English also has a strong creative and expressive dimension.”