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A Mastery Approach to Writing, Continued…

Feb 26th 2019

We had been speaking to Head of School at Wolverham, Jenni Ogden, in our previous post about her experience of Pathways to Write and the mastery approach to writing her school have been piloting for us.

Not only have Wolverham embedded Pathways to Write as an approach for their English (as we explored in the previous post), but they have decided to take it one step further and use the texts to drive all their pupil’s learning. “We decided to develop a more joined up learning approach and to use the book from our work in the morning to drive the afternoon.”

For example, in Year 5 the book ‘Queen of the Falls’ was linked to a whole half term of learning about North America and developing the children’s understanding of the time period in which ‘Queen of the Falls’ was set through their focus on the American Civil War. “They may have thought before that the people might have used their phone to record the events or send a text about it. It also helped them to understand the enormity of what happened rather than just being something they could watch on social media.”

It was clear from speaking to the children that they really understood that their Mastery keys should be used in all their writing: “We use them in nearly every lesson. Sometimes, I just use modal verbs and adverbs of possibility.” Referring to her keys, one of the girls told us: “So many of these I do naturally, even in maths – he may have the most, but he probably hasn’t. Someone even used brackets in maths the other day!”

Jenni also recounted how her Year 2 team used the book ‘Troll Swap’ and developed it into a whole half-term’s worth of learning. “It was amazing! On the first day they took the children out for a walk around the school grounds and they found a tent in our wildlife area. They weren’t sure who it belonged to, so they spent a couple of weeks – covering their Gateway keys – investigating who this tent belonged to.

It turned out that the tent belonged to a troll and so they spent the whole half-term writing letters back and forth to him allowing them to cover other areas of curriculum. For their DT, they did some potion making when he was sick, linking to dissolving and separating in Science. They covered Geography when he left them a map, which they had to follow. The teacher had hidden things in Wolverham Park for them to find to develop their map skills. They were so engaged with it all. They even put lights in his tent so at night it was glowing on the school field and they really believed he was there.”

This creative and holistic approach to teaching, inspired by a text, is having a real impact on pupil’s enthusiasm and engagement. For the staff, using Pathways to Write units has taken away the burden of Literacy planning and has freed up their time to be more creative with the rest of their curriculum. All in all, a text-based approach to curriculum planning has transformed children’s learning at Wolverham Primary School for the better.