At The Free School Norwich we aim to provide a supportive and enriching environment here all children develop the knowledge and skills needed to become effective communicators within and beyond the classroom. Through our English Curriculum, we strive to teach children how important their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills will be in the real world. We enable them to not only communicate with others effectively for a variety of purposes but also to examine their own and others’ experiences, feelings and ideas therefore equipping children to be life- long learners.


The teaching and Learning of English is fundamental to ensure every pupils’ success as a life-long learner, and citizen of the world. The Free School Norwich recognises this and provides opportunities for this through our curriculum model, incorporating carefully chosen ‘core texts’ through which to teach and inspire writing outcomes, that help our children cultivate a love of English language and literature. We use Talk for Writing as a methodology. It is powerful because it is based on the principles of how individuals learn. It is a fully inclusive method of teaching writing, with progressive movement from imitation to innovation to independent application, that can be adapted to suit the needs of learners of any stage.


Talk for Writing

The Talk for Writing method enables children to progressively understand, and gain confidence and competence with, different fiction genres and plot patterns, and non-fiction text types. Each year group cover a balance of Narrative, Non-Fiction and Poetry text types. The National Curriculum (2014) is used to support coverage of the English skills and this is supported by the key principles of Talk for Writing:

  • making explicit the processes and thinking involved in the writing process so that ultimately, they can be internalised and applied by children in their own writing.

Phase 1: Baseline assessment and planning

Teaching is focused by initial assessment (a ‘cold’ task) An interesting and rich starting point provides the stimulus and content but there is no initial teaching. The aim of this is to see what the children can do independently at the start of a unit, drawing on their prior learning. Through the assessment of the writing teachers work out what to teach the whole class, different groups and adapt the model text and plan. Targets are set for individuals. which encourages pupils and helps us track the impact of teaching.

  1. The Imitation phase

Each unit begins with a creative ‘hook’ which engages the children and gives a sense of enjoyment, audience and purpose. The model text, from which teaching is drawn, is pitched above the children’s attainment level and has built into it the underlying, transferable structures and language patterns that children will need when they are writing. This model is learned using a pictorial ‘text map’ with actions to strengthen memory and help children internalise the text. Activities such as drama are used to deepen understanding of the text. Once children can ‘talk like the text’, the model, and other examples, are then read for vocabulary and comprehension, before being analysed for the basic text structure, language patterns and writing techniques. This phase is underpinned by rehearsing key spellings and grammatical patterns. Short-burst writing is used to practise key focus skills.

  1. The Innovation phase

Once children are familiar with the model text, this phase leads them into creating their own versions. A new subject/angle is presented and the teacher leads children through planning. With our younger children, this is based on changing the basic text map and retelling/drawing/writing new versions. Out older children use boxed-up planners and teachers demonstrate how to create simple plans and orally develop ideas prior to writing. Shared and guided writing is then used to stage writing over a number of days so that children are writing texts bit by bit, concentrating on bringing all the elements they have been learning together, writing effectively and accurately. Feedback is given during the lessons to individuals, and whole class feedback is given on a daily basis, so that children can be taught how to improve their writing, make it more accurate, until they can increasingly edit in pairs or on their own.

  1. Independent application

In this phase, children apply independently what has been taught and practised in the prior phases. A rich starting point that taps into what children know and what matters to them is provided so that their writing is purposeful. Writing can be staged over a number of days and there is time for several independent pieces to be written. With non-fiction, children also apply what they have been taught across the wider curriculum. The final written piece is used as an assessment of progress across the unit.

Implementation: The Long-Term Overview

The long-term overview maps the texts being studied from Reception – Year 6. These are regularly reviewed.

FSN Writing Overview

Implementation: Unit Plans

The unit plans provide detailed progression through the Talk for Writing process, with carefully thought-out teaching approaches and activities suitable for each phase.


We aim to teach our children the importance of presentation. We teach how to produce neat handwriting and expect that all children take pride in the work that they produce. Writing is taught using a cursive font, from Year 2, and is modelled continually across school. Print is taught in Reception and Year 1 classes to ensure children acquire correct formation before moving to cursive in Year 2.

Spelling Spelling is taught discretely throughout the school. Spelling tests are given weekly
and may be differentiated. The tests consist of words or word patterns which have
been taught, high frequency words, common exception words from the National Curriculum. We follow the VN whole school spelling scheme.


By the time the children leave The Free School Norwich they will have become increasingly independent and responsible for selecting and using writing strategies: planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating and editing. Their transcription skills will become increasingly automatic for pupils to focus on writing composition, and they will be ready for the next stage in their learning.


Early writing activities:

  • Encourage children to look for print in their environment – road signs, food packets, shops, catalogues etc.
  • Try activities to develop fine motor skills e.g. cutting, using playdough, using tweezers, using clothes pegs, tracing.
  • Encourage your child to hold the pencil in the ‘tripod’ grip between the thumb and first two fingers.
  • Use a chalkboard to write family messages on.
  • Make labels for things around the house.
  • Write a shopping list – real or imaginary! Or any other sort of list.
  • Let your child write their own Christmas cards or birthday cards to people.
  • Use magnetic letters – your child can leave a message on the fridge.
  • Encourage and praise early squiggles and marks which show your child is beginning to understand writing.

Improving Writers:

  • Write party invitations.
  • Encourage children to write thank you letters after birthdays and Christmas.
  • Write postcards when on holiday.
  • Write a menu for a family meal or party.
  • Email a family member or friends.
  • Make a scrap book with labels and captions – maybe after a holiday or special events.
  • Write short stories involving the adventures of their favourite toys.
  • Write an information leaflet about something they find interesting eg. dinosaurs, sports etc.
  • Write a letter to a favourite author.
  • Invent and write rules for the house, bedroom etc. and put on a poster.
  • Draw, label and explain their own inventions. Make up silly sentences and tongue twisters.

More confident writers:

  • Write a diary.
  • Make up song lyrics.
  • Plan their own party.
  • Write a story for a younger family member, in the style of their favourite book.
  • Write a holiday journal.
  • Write instructions for an X-box game, Minecraft or similar.
  • Write a recipe.
  • Write instructions for a more mature member of the family (eg . grandparent) for a piece of modern technology they can’t get to grips with!
  • Channel their passions – RSPCA, WWF, ActionAid etc. all have ideas for getting children involved in raising awareness of campaigns.
  • Write to the local newspaper about a local issue they feel strongly about or even to the local MP.
  • Talk to different generations of family about their life and compile a family history.
  • Make up jokes.

It’s also an incentive to write if there is a range of exciting writing materials available – pencils, crayons, felt tips, sparkly pens, writing icings, writing soaps for bathtime, coloured papers, different shape and sizes of paper etc. Try to remember to focus on and praise the content of any writing your child shares with you, rather than dwelling on any mistakes they may have made. Hopefully the variety of activities listed here have provided you with plenty of ideas to help and encourage your child to have a go at doing some writing at home.

Curriculum Progression

Your child will learn…