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The write stuff

Government literacy advisers hope a new teaching resource being sent to every primary school will help bring infant pupils' writing skills into line with their reading abilities. Developing Early Writing, from the National Literacy Strategy, is designed to integrate the technical skills of phonics, spelling and handwriting with the broader and more creative aspects of writing. "It's about bringing the skills straight into writing", says literacy specialist Sue Palmer.

NLS director Steve Anwyll says the resource aims to link the phonics work teachers are already doing to its application in writing. "We're trying to bring the elements of the package together for teachers, to make it more cohesive," he says. It follows last year's Grammar for Writing, for key stage 2 teachers. The pack includes a 170-page book containing guidance and teaching units for foundation and key stage 1, a video showing teachers using the system and a CD-Rom with worksheets, glossary and examples of children's writing.

Sue Palmer believes that, used alongside Progression in Phonics, sent to schools in 1999, the new materials will make a real difference to children's writing.Until now, writing skills have lagged far behind reading.

The pack says a successful writing classroom should include a stimulating environment with: * displayed and celebrated examples of children's work;

* purposes and opportunities for writing linked to activities across the curriculum;

* frequent uses of writing to communicate;

* encouragement to use writing materials at every opportunity;

* chances to use writing in play.

The pack points out that children learn about how writing looks and sounds through a wide experience of reading. There should be systematic and direct teaching of phonics, and direct teaching of handwriting, with daily opportunities to practice, it says. Teachers should help prepare children for writing by providing a "rich oral experience of telling, retelling and refining texts".

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