Writing at Darlinghurst

At Darlinghurst we want our children to clearly understand the purpose for writing and enjoy becoming authors. From the first lesson in a series, children will begin to understand the reasoning behind each the purpose for each piece of writing.

Our four writing purposes are:


Through year one to six we follow the 'Darlinghurst writing approach'. It is slightly different in year 1 and 2 to the juniors but follows the same principle. This approach will be evident in the English books. The children all follow a two-week cycle, culminating in an extended, independent piece every two weeks. Working walls are updated weekly to provide the children with key vocabulary and prompts for writing.

Key stage one cycle (Year 1 and 2)

Day one -Planning

The class teacher shares an Exemplication piece. This is a piece of writing that the teachers have written to include all of the elements required to be successful. The children then plan what they want their writing to include.

Day 2-Build a sentence

The teacher models how to build an effective sentence, linked to the writing. The children spend time crafting and writing sentences to include in their writing

Day 3 -Our Write

Writing is modelled to the children, sentence by sentence, if need be. The children produce their supported writing.

Day 4-Proof read and Edit

The children spend time improving their sentence structure, punctuation and spelling.

Week two shares the same structure until day 3 when the children write independently.

Key stage Two cycle (Year 3-6)

Day one -Planning

The class teacher shares an Exemplication piece. This is a piece of writing that the teachers have written to include all of the elements required to be successful. The children then plan what they need their writing to include.

Day 2-Build a paragraph

The teacher models how to build an effective paragraph, ordinarily using a child's planning from the previous day. The children spend time crafting and writing an effective paragraph to include in their writing.

Day 3 and 4 -Our Write

The children use their planning to write. The teacher can model each paragraph if need be. They use the steps to success in order to complete their piece of writing. Writing is shared with a talk partner and edited as they write. The children then proof read and edit their writing in green pen.

Key stage two-Week 2

Day One -Planning

The class teacher shares an Exemplication piece with the week's focus. This is a piece of writing that the teachers have written to include all of the elements required to be successful. The children then plan what they need their writing to include.

Day 3 and 4 -My Write

The children use their planning to write. They use the steps to success in order to complete their piece of writing. Writing is shared with a talk partner and edited as they write. The children then proof read and edit their writing in green pen.

Grammar, punctuation and spellings are also taught two or three times a week in every year group. This is timetabled and written in the back of the English books.


At Darlinghurst School we have developed our own phonics programme which follows the sound teaching sequence from letters and sounds. Children are first taught to read and write the 40+ sounds in English and subsequently apply this knowledge to matched decodable books. Children begin phonics lessons in Nursery and Reception and continue these lessons until they can read confidently and fluently. Some children complete our phonics programme in Year 1 and others in Year 2. In KS2, any children who need extra reading support also follow this programme using age appropriate decodable books.

Children are grouped according to their reading progress and are taught phonics, spelling, reading, writing and handwriting for one hour a day (20 to 45 minutes in Reception). In these groups every child is heard reading by an adult every day. Children are assessed every half-term to ensure they are placed in a group that maximizes their progress and extra daily one-to-one sessions are provided for children who may need a little more support.

In Reception children are taught sounds using pictures as an aid, for example we make the letter 's' into a snake, and the 'f' into the shape of a flower. These pictures help all children to read the sounds easily. Once this knowledge is secure and children are able to blend consistently and accurately, we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds, for example, they learn that the sound 'ay' is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound 'ee' is written ee, e and ea. We use phrases to help them remember each sound for example, ee, free the sheep, ea - eat the treat.

Whole class reading

Children at Darlinghurst are encouraged to develop a love of literature through exposure to a wide range of texts. We provide a print rich environment including different genres and styles which are ability appropriate. As a community of readers, we expect all teachers and children to model and communicate their love of reading.

In Years 2-6, children participate in whole class reading lessons once they can read fluently. During these lessons your child reads a high quality age appropriate text with the support of their teacher and peers. The text will be introduced by the teacher to ensure all the key vocabulary is explained. Your child will then be able to understand this new vocabulary and apply it in the correct context. The lesson will include daily partner reading to help your child improve their fluency and expression. During this time, the teacher will hear every child read. This will be followed by a 'think aloud' where their teacher will explain key parts of the text and ask questions to assess your child's comprehension. Comprehension skills are developed through pupils' experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction.

Pupils at Darlinghurst are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world they live in, to gain knowledge, and to establish an appreciation and love of reading. We want reading to feed our pupils' imaginations and as such books within the library and classroom are easily accessible and presented in an appealing way in order to encourage respect for books and support our commitment to developing a love of reading.

All children will bring home a book from within the school's reading band scheme, which is appropriate to their reading ability and age. We use a wide variety of schemes, such as Oxford Reading Tree, Songbirds and Project X, as well as 'real' books that have been evaluated and put into a 'band'. This is to ensure our children have exposure to a wide range of writing styles and different genres.



At Darlinghurst School we use the scheme 'Penpals for Handwriting' to teach handwriting across the school. This scheme runs from EYFS all the way though to Year 6 and teaches initial letter formation through to joining letter and groups of letters with upper KS2 ready to refine and practise their presentation skills.

Rationale for Penpals

Handwriting should always be actively taught. A flexible, fluent and legible handwriting style empowers children to write with confidence and creativity. Associating handwriting movement with visual letter patterns and aural phonemes will help children learn to spell. The stages of handwriting in the scheme are outlined below.

  • · Readiness for handwriting; gross and fine motor skills leading to letter formation (Foundation / 3-5 years)
  • · Beginning to join (Key Stage 1 / 5-7 years)
  • · Securing the joins (Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage 2 / 5-9 years)
  • · Practising speed and fluency (lower Key Stage 2 / 7-9 years)
  • · Presentation skills (upper Key Stage 2 / 10-11 years)



Frequency of lessons

Each class is expected to teach a discreet handwriting session at least three times a week. These lessons will look slightly different depending on the age of the children but all will start with the exercises required for the letters or joins they are learning. From Year 1 to Year 6 the children will record the letter and words they are learning in their handwriting books.

English - Speaking and Listening

At Darlinghurst we are inquisitive and active learners who ask a lot of challenging, probing and insightful questions in every area of the curriculum. Throughout the curriculum there is a strong emphasis on enabling children to use language to work together effectively. Through using language and hearing how others use it, the children of Darlinghurst become able to describe the world, make sense of life's experiences and get things done. They learn to use language as a tool for thinking, collectively and alone. Darlinghurst provides an opportunity for children to acquire speaking, listening and thinking skills throughout the curriculum.

As Speaking and Listening subject leader my role includes: increasing vocabulary to support writing and reading; developing an understanding of the many purposes for speaking; engagement and development of speaking and listening skills including use during debates, discussions, performance and drama. As well as developing the teaching and learning to ensure it is of the highest quality. To ensure pupil engagement we will hold special assemblies to inspire pupils. In addition we also run school council which enables children to experience the many forms of speaking for purpose.

As part of developing Speaking and Listening I am always keen to hear from parents / carers who are involved in a relevant industry in any way such as poetry, writing, publication or performance and would be willing to share their knowledge and expertise with the children. Please contact me on mrporter@darlinghurst.co.uk.

BBC Skillwise


At Darlinghurst School we teach phonics through the scheme 'Letters and Sounds'. Children begin learning phonics when they first start school in Nursery and Reception where they are taught from 'Letters and Sounds' and 'Jolly Phonics'.

This then progresses as the children go into year one and two where 'Letters and Sounds' and 'Phonics Play' are used to give the children the best opportunities in their phonics learning. We believe phonics should be taught in an active way with lots of opportunities to practice their blending skills. Further information from our parent workshops is available on our website.

Phonic Screen

At the end of year 1, all children sit the Phonics Screen. The Phonic Screen was introduced by the government in 2013. This is an assessment where the children have to correctly read 20 real words and 20 'pseudo' words.

In 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 the "pass threshold" was 32, which means children had to read at least 32 words out of 40 correctly. The threshold mark is communicated to schools at the end of June, after the test has been taken. Any children who do not pass the screen will retake this in year 2 and will be given further support with their phonics knowledge.

In 2016 Darlinghurst School had a pass rate of 88%, this was 7% above the national average and was also an increase of 14% from 2015.

Key Stage 1 Assessments

In June the children from Year 2 will undertake some end of key stage assessments. Teacher assessment of whether a child is working below, at or above the expected standard of a year 2 child is then reported to the local authority.

In order to assist the teachers with these assessments the government provides some testing materials in the form of a reading comprehension assessment, a maths assessment which is in two parts: arithmetic and reasoning and a spelling, grammar and punctuation assessment.

The specific results of these assessments are only reported to parents if requested but parents will be made aware of what we report to the local authority in terms of whether their child has been assessed at working at, above or below national expectations.