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Can't write, won't write

In preparing work for two Ofsted surveys*, lecturer in English Caroline Daly identified the following factors which were judged to have improved boys' performance in writing:

* teachers' subject knowledge, confidence expectations and effective planning

* lesson planning and organisation, with a firm sense of purpose, to achieve clear learning aims

* explicit teaching about language and writing, connecting linguistic features with effects on the reader

* a range of strategies for writing, including drama, paired investigative work, "talk for writing" time, ICT

* topic selection in narrative writing - a preference for independent choice of writing topic

* medium-term planning - a concept ladder to help organise

* oracy - vital in developing writing - aired work, group work, whole-class work

* planning writing

* drafting - rooted in a range of strategies, and with individual feedback

* writing frames - modified to meet the needs of an individual, group or class

* active learning tasks - with drama conventions and practice as key strategies

* non-confrontational approaches to discipline

* pupils' consciousness raising - self-review and self-organisation

* use of visual media - a dramatic dimension to writing with a more effective use of language

* ICT - differentiated support, support for composition and transcription

* poetry writing - shorter form, immediacy of ideas

* target-setting, monitoring and mentoring of individuals perceived to be underachieving *'Yes he can: schools where boys write well' and 'Boys' achievement in secondary schools' can be downloaded at

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