Writing at Underwood West Academy




We use Talk for Writing to develop our pupils’ ability to communicate effectively as both writers and speakers. From Nusery to Year 6, our curriculum is carefully structured to allow our pupils to build on the range of skills necessary to be fluent readers, speakers, listeners, thinkers and writers.

By placing the learner at the heart of the planning, teaching and learning process, the Talk for Writing approach empowers pupils to independently read and write for diverse audiences and purposes across various subjects. A key focus of this method is helping pupils internalise the language structures necessary for writing by 'talking the text'. This process transitions from dependence to independence, with teachers providing shared and guided instruction to foster our pupils' ability to write creatively and effectively.


The Process

1. Cold Write

Teaching begins with an initial assessment known as a 'cold' task. This involves presenting an engaging and rich starting point without prior instruction, aiming to see what pupils can achieve independently at the start of a unit, relying on their previous learning. Evaluating their writing enables teachers to determine what to teach the whole class and different groups, and how to adapt the model text and plan. Individual targets can then be set.


2. The Imitation Stage

This stage begins with a creative ‘hook’ that captivates pupils with a sense of enjoyment, audience, and purpose. Examples of this may include a news item showing something landing in the playground having fallen from space, or deciphering runic messages discovered on the school grounds. Pupils are then exposed to a high-level model text and spend time internalising it using text-maps to support the learning of new vocabulary. In this stage, understanding is deepened through drama activities, vocabulary and comprehension work when reading as a reader, and analysis and practice of grammatical features when reading as a writer. Following the dissection of the model text, our pupils then co-create a writing toolkit to list some of the skills that may be used in that style of writing in order to write an effective, purposeful piece aimed at a specific audience.


3. The Innovation Stage

In this stage, pupils are initially guided through the planning and writing of their own version of the model text. As they grow in confidence, their writing in this stage will move further away from the model with changes to settings, characters and events independently applied whilst using the same tools that have been identified in the model text. Pupils are encouraged to share their new ideas with their peers and new vocabulary and ideas can be 'magpied' and added to Magpie books and class vocabulary displays to allow more children to confidently explore new language. Feedback is given during the lessons, as well as using some form of visualiser on a daily basis, so that students can be taught how to improve their writing, make it more accurate, until they can increasingly edit in pairs or on their own.


4. Independent Application 

Eventually, pupil progress to the third phase, where they independently apply what has been taught and practised. Before this stage, the teacher might provide additional input and rehearsal where necessary. Pupils are then guided through planning, drafting, and revising their work on their own. It is crucial to offer a rich starting point that connects to what pupils know and care about in order to make their writing purposeful. The independent writing process may be spread over several days, with time to edit and refraft their work. In non-fiction, pupils should apply what they have learnt across the curriculum. The final piece serves as the ‘hot’ task, clearly demonstrating progress throughout the unit.

At the innovation and independent application stages, it is important that the writing becomes increasingly independent from the original model, rather than a mere imitation. While younger children might make only a few simple changes, older pupils should be adding, embellishing, altering, and manipulating the original structure. From Key Stage 2 onwards, nearly all pupils will be using the text structure and writing tools to write independently, drawing on the model, their wider reading, and personal experience to produce high-level independent writing.

The aim of Talk for Writing is to develop imaginative, creative and effective writers. No pupils can be said to really be a reader until they make their own choices about what to read and begin to develop a taste. In the same vein, children are not really independent writers until they decide what they want to write and have opportunities to create their own writing tasks and write about their interests and lives creating stories, poems and informative writing for themselves. Through Talk for Writing, our writing curiculum equips our pupils with the tools to become effective independent writers. 



Below, the founder of Talk for Writing briefly explains the approach and why it works. 



Newcastle Street, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1 3LF

Please direct your enquiries to

Mel JamesBursar

01270 260580