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Bare Trees Primary School




We are a Talk for Writing School


We are a Talk for Writing School: In September 2023, we adopted the Talk for Writing approach. This is used from Nursery through to Year 6. Talk for Writing was developed by the author and poet, Pie Corbett. A key feature of this approach is that children internalise the language structures needed for writing through orally rehearsing and reciting a model text. ‘The approach moves from dependence towards independence, with teachers using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully.’ Pie Corbett - Talk For Writing.




Each unit of work follows the same cycle of teaching and is based on a type of text (e.g. warning tale, newspaper report, non-chronological report), which has a core model text for the children to learn. Teaching content is set out in the long-term plans for English (see appendix for ‘Talk for Writing Overview’) and ensures a progression of skills throughout each academic year and a child’s journey through the whole school. Learning blocks are bookended by independent tasks (‘cold’ and ‘hot’ tasks), which inform and focus teaching points and provide opportunities for assessment judgements to be made. The three main stages, after initial assessment, are: Imitation, Innovation and Independent Application. Cold Tasks: An engaging starting point provides the stimulus and content for ‘cold’ writing. There is no teaching at this stage as the aim of this is to see what the children can do independently at the start of a unit. Children are encouraged to draw on their prior learning and teachers ensure this task is accessible to all pupils. This assessment of writing supports teachers in setting whole class targets, which will be addressed throughout the unit and re-assessed in Hot Tasks. 




Teaching begins with a creative ‘hook’ to engage pupils in the text-type they are learning or the audience and purpose of the unit. A model text is introduced to the children and pitched above the pupils’ current level to exemplify underlying, transferable structures and language patterns that pupils need for writing. This is learned by talking the text aloud and using a ‘text map’ with actions as cues and prompts. These allow children to see the plot and clear structure of a text. Once students can ‘talk the text’, the written version of the model is then presented to the children and read for vocabulary and comprehension. After children have solidified their understanding of the text, the class analyses it for the basic underlying structure (generic plot pattern), as well as key text and language patterns (‘boxing up’) and writing techniques (‘toolkits’) such as description, setting, characterisation etc. Other examples of this text type can also be introduced at this stage to help deepen understanding of teaching points. This first phase is underpinned by rehearsal and teaching of key spellings and grammatical patterns, use of drama to internalise and understand the text, and short-burst writing to practise key teaching focuses such as description, persuasion or explanation.




Once pupils are familiar with the model text, teachers guide them into creating their own versions. New elements are presented to help children involve their own ideas alongside influences from the model. At this stage, teachers actively teach children how to manipulate and use influences of texts to create something that is their own. Teaching time is given to generating and exploring a range of ideas before planning. Teachers use a shared-writing approach to guide students through planning. With early writers, this is based on changing the basic map and retelling new versions. More advanced writers use more formal planning (such as a boxed-up structure or their own planning method) and are taught more complex ways of innovating. After planning, shared and guided writing is then used to stage writing over a number of days so that pupils are able to maintain stamina for writing and concentrate on writing effectively and accurately. 


Teachers use the guidance in the ‘Creating Storytellers and Writers’ Talk for Writing Handbook to create a positive, interactive and high-quality learning experience. This phase of the process is underpinned by teacher feedback, editing and redrafting. Feedback is given during lessons on a daily basis, so that pupils can be taught how to improve their writing, make it more accurate, until they can increasingly edit in pairs or on their own.


Independent Application


By the end of the unit, pupils complete a ‘hot’ task, which is an independent piece on a similar type of writing with an interesting stimulus. Progress should be evident and this encourages pupils and helps teachers track the impact of teaching and learning.


Free-Writing and Poetry opportunities 


Between completing a cold task and beginning the Imitation phase, teachers may spend time embedding language and grammar through free writing activities and poetry. These are approached in a similar way to shared-writing in order to support the development of vocabulary and promote creativity.




At Bare Trees Primary School, children are excited about their writing. They are ‘hooked’ at the beginning of a unit and then introduced to high quality model texts aimed at inspiring their ideas, enriching their vocabulary and promoting their creativity. Children enjoy writing for different purposes and are exposed to a wide range of genres. Pupils recognise effective writing and understand what makes it good. They become aware of the key features (toolkits) of different text types and are able to develop their ideas by planning and preparing for writing. Children are able to make informed choices about grammar, vocabulary and text structure and can reflect upon, refine and improve their work. 



Below is a synopsis of the Talk for Writing approach:












The Genres We Teach




Wishing stories - The main character wants something badly but is prevented by some sort of barrier that needs to be overcome. Once this is overcome the character gets what they wished for, but sometimes their desire was not worth it after all! 


Warning stories - The main character is warned not to do something, but they ignore the warning and do it anyway. Something goes wrong which lands the character in trouble. The character is eventually rescued and (hopefully) learns their lesson!


Beating the monster stories - Everything is well for the main character until a threat/monster appears. The threat/monster is difficult to defeat, but the character eventually overcomes it using their resourcefulness or a positive character trait (e.g. honesty, courage, kindness).


Journey stories: quests, adventure - The main character goes on a quest or adventure. They usually go on this journey to complete a specific task. The character will face a series of challenges, trials or temptations which they will need to overcome to succeed and find their way back home.


Portal stories - A story that takes the main character on a magical journey through something (like a door) to a different place or time in history. The main character finds a problem which they cannot defeat and their only escape is by returning through the portal which is hard to find. The main character escapes but cannot find the portal again. 


Losing stories - The story starts with the main character having a valuable item. The character loses the precious item and has to either search for it or face the consequences of losing it. The story may end with the valuable item being found again.


Suspense stories/tales of fear - The main character is afraid of something and encounters a situation in which they have to face their fear. After some difficulty, the character is eventually able to conquer their fear.


Cinderella or change stories - The main character is in a poor situation, e.g. lonely, sad, penniless, hungry. The main character sets off to do something or go somewhere, seeking help. They come across someone else who needs help but despite the disadvantage, the main character helps. The main character is usually rewarded and the original problem is solved. 


Finding stories - The main character finds something valuable, interesting or important. But finding this object may lead to things going wrong. The character has to overcome the problems, sometimes by discarding the valuable item in some way.

Writing Progression 2023-24



At Bare Trees, we use the Nelson Handwriting scheme to teach handwriting across school. Once pupils have been taught basic letter formation using the Read Write Inc mnemonics, they move onto the Nelson progression. 


Nelson Handwriting is a whole-school programme designed to help all children develop a confident and legible and personal handwriting style. The programme includes activities linked to pattern practice and motor skills and a range of fun activities to bring handwriting to life. 


Pupils in Key Stage One and Two have a weekly handwriting lesson following the set progression.