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Bidston Avenue is a large primary school, with over 400 children, on the edge of north Birkenhead. It takes children from a diverse area including Bidston, one of the poorest wards in the country, and the slightly more affluent Claughton. The school is a Creative Partnership school and has strengths in music, drama and dance.
The school has identified children's writing as a focus for improvement over the next few months. Writing at Key Stage 1 in the school has become successful recently, but the school would now like to extend this achievement through the school and into Key Stage 2 - particularly Years 3, 4 and 5. Whilst children tend to be competent writers of non-narrative text, they are less confident and skilful with narrative, particularly story writing. The school's staff feel that there is a need to take a holistic view of language by developing children's abilities with story listening, reading, telling, enactment, retelling and then writing. SATs results in writing have been disappointing, but it is felt that enhancing pupils' confidence, commitment and enjoyment will have an impact also on performance standards.
Teachers in upper Key Stage 2 were concerned that many children could not write interesting, well-structured stories and that this had been an issue for two years, meaning that it had now become a focus for improvement. In addition, specific work on story in Year 1 was enabling children to tell and write stories which were well-structured, sustained and interesting. The head and SMT were keen to extend this throughout the school using a range of strategies, including story listening, reading, telling and enactment through play.
The school was very committed to the project and will continue to develop and research their work on developing story writing. They have learnt that even young children can and are motivated to write for 45 minutes and this will lead to a more flexible approach to lesson timings. The staff are reassessing planning in order to immerse children in language of a particular theme or topic, having already embraced the concept of cross-curricular planning. The impact of the work will change the way in which children are taught story-writing. The importance of play in a variety of forms will be integrated into planning in order to enhance children's understanding and abilities to speak of and write about particular topics and subjects.