Guided writing as a means of precise intervention at Wave One

Case Study
  • Authored by: Kirsten Shook (nee French)
  • Status: Approved


What were your reasons for doing this type of development work?

Wave One intervention is intervention to secure quality teaching – before extra support is given to pupils falling behind, quality teaching of all should be ensured first. From extensive audits at the action-planning stage of the LA's TAP programme, it was felt that provision at wave 2 was overloaded and something needed to be put in place before there became a need for a specific 'programme' of intervention. Exploration and implementation of aspects of Assessment for Learning were areas felt to be underdeveloped and that may prove vital in sustainably raising attainment in writing for underachieving groups of pupils. It was also intended that the teachers would be supported in developing their own self-evaluative and reflective skills.

Who might find this case study useful?

  • Headteacher
  • Middle leader
  • Senior leadership team (SLT)
  • SIP (School Improvement Partner)
  • Subject leader
  • Teacher

Key points

Point 1

What is the fastest, most effective and most sustainable way of improving children's motivation to be 'writers'?

Point 2

How can we facilitate all learners' ownership of their peer and self-assessment skills, in a meaningful context?


What specific curriculum area, subject or aspect did you intend to have impact on?

  • Assessment and target setting
  • Communication, language and literacy
  • English - writing

How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?

Improve children's writing skills, evident through independent application in a variety of contexts.

What were your success criteria?

  • Increase proportions of cohorts achieving age-related expectations
  • Deepen practitioners' understanding of the range of teaching strategies relevant to Guided Writing
  • Raise awareness of the impact of feedback, on pupils' motivation

PLEASE NOTE this page has three tabs - click 'Next tab' below or use tabs above to see Teaching approaches and CPD approaches

What information or data did you use to measure progress towards your success criteria?

  • Learning walks / study visits
  • Periodic teacher assessment
  • Pupil consultation data
  • Pupils' work

What did you do? What teaching approaches (pedagogy) did you use to achieve the intended impact?

  • Assessment for Learning (AfL)
  • Collaborative group work
  • Cross-curricular work
  • Learning how to learn
  • Self assessment and peer assessment
  • Teaching sequences
  • Use of thinking skills

Describe the teaching approaches you used

Coached teachers in using assessment information about a target group of pupils to plan for a sequence of teacher-led, needs-based and tightly focused Guided Writing sessions, designed to address key areas of text and sentence structure that would remove barriers to independent writing skills. (Please refer to the summary page for a pdf containing 'Annotated Guided Writing work samples and planning')

The sequence of activities, in all classes worked with:

  • identified a group of target pupils from distribution sheets
  • analysed writing samples for areas of need
  • looked for opportunities to teach those areas, within Literacy Renewed Framework units
  • planned sequences of guided writing sessions that fit in with, and support moving towards, the unit's end outcome
  • guided writing sessions incorporated a mixture of modelling, shared, paired and independent work
  • both written and oral (boys especially benefitted from oral rehearsal before writing)
  • opportunities for guiding writing were taken at all stages of the teaching sequence for writing
  • before, at the point of, and after writing, depending upon the needs/barriers of the selected target pupils
  • teachers' feedback (written or oral) was focused upon the objective and success criteria, and identified 'next steps' for learning and teaching
  • children knew what they had to do to improve and so could focus clearly on small steps of learning at a time, which motivated them to achieve that 'small step'
  • environmental prompts such as success criteria were referred to by adults to encourage children to apply their writing skills independently, and across a range of situations
  • this helped the children feel more secure when 'going it alone'.

Later on in one class (Year One)…

  • children started to develop own instinctive wish to self-evaluate their own work
  • this was built into and planned for through guided 'workshops', so that adult support to help them to focus appropriately
  • target groups continued to be monitored, discussed at 'pupil progress meetings' and revised according to level of need, i.e. as the target group was assessed as working at age-related expectations they were 'taken off teacher-intensive intervention' and the next group down was picked up
  • this meant for one class (Year One) that the target group selected for April were the final group in the class (bar two children with exceptional need). If these children were to reach age-related expectations then nearly all of the cohort would be on track.
  • this group lacked motivation, focus and self-esteem possibly more than the others, so lesson study was employed to look deeply at how to move learning forward
  • for these children, their main barrier was understanding that their writing needs to be able to read again after it is committed to the paper
  • they lacked comprehension of purpose and audience, possibly linked to a belief that they were not 'real writers'
  • self-evaluation was modelled to this group, via shared writing and shared monitoring against success criteria
  • when the children were asked to assess their own work they were focused and driven to try and include as many features as they could
  • the children started to ask each other to help find features, almost wanting to notice things before the teacher did
  • the teacher now is starting to develop peer-assessment approaches more widely with her class
  • something she felt would always be beyond her Year Ones, and yet it was her most vulnerable children who showed her they wanted this! Without the opportunity to observe her own children while strategies were tried out with them, she may have missed some golden moments!

What did you do? What approaches to CPD and learning for adults were used?

  • Classroom enquiry
  • Coaching
  • Modelling
  • Partnership teaching
  • Training

Describe the CPD approaches you used

  • Differentiated training sessions for practitioners (large group, whole staff, pairs of teachers).
  • Facilitated practitioners asking questions about their own current perceptions of Guided Writing and adults' roles.
  • Team-teaching built trust and ensured both parties shared the learning journey.
  • Modelling was centred around two or three key points the practitioner had identified as wanting to further develop.
  • Further areas for development were identified by the practitioners themselves, as well as how they might embark on their enquiry.

What CPD materials, research or expertise have you drawn on?

Related National Strategies resources:

Who provided you with support?

  • Senior management

How were you supported?

Practitioners received support from:

  • LA consultant (modelled coaching and lesson study, demonstrated strategies for teaching of aspects that children find hard to learn/teachers find hard to teach)
  • headteachers & SLT (CPD process openly valued in a professional learning community);
  • colleagues in school through in-house lesson study.


What has been the overall impact on pupil learning?

  • More planning for key questions & challenges.
  • Excitement about possibilities and aspirations (by both the teachers and children).
  • Improvements in independent writing evident very rapidly - ownership of learning processes.
  • Increased motivation to sustain good progress.

(Please refer to the summary page for a pdf containing 'Annotated Guided Writing work samples and planning')

Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on learning

"I'd like to do this next 'cause I think I can do the other things but I can't do this yet and I want to get better at it." – Y2 child discussing success criteria.

"I like doing the new bit when I remember the last lesson. It helps me think about what I have to do next." – Y1 child talking about degree of confidence given when knowing what they have to do next (targets), and having the opportunity to revisit work and improve upon it.

Quantitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • Periodic teacher assessment

Qualitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • Learning walks / study visits
  • Logs or interviews
  • Observation outcomes
  • Pupils' work

Describe the evidence of impact on pupil learning

Numbers of pupils achieving age-related expectations have accelerated in all classes studied.

Percentages on track or above, from September 07 to February 08:

  • YR: 40% to 74% = 34% increase
  • Y1: 40% to 80% = 40%
  • Y2: 47% to 80% = 33%
  • Y3: 48% to 68% = 20%
  • Y4: 50% to 64% = 14%
  • Y5: 36% to 64% = 28%
  • Y6: 48% to 69% = 21%.

Averaging out at an increase of: + 27% per cohort, over 5 months.

What has been the impact on teaching?

Practitioners have developed deeper relationships with the target children, which have:

  • Raised confidence in children, especially when working independently.
  • Increased practitioner confidence in children to have the tools for independent working.
  • Raised expectations by all, of what is possible.

Learners are more involved in the teaching process, because:

  • All are feeling more focused and impactful with their time.
  • Practitioners' perceptions of their role are beginning to shift
    from 'modeller/demonstrator' to learning facilitator, as they see
    increased benefits of this way of working.
  • Children like to know more about HOW they learn.

Quotes you think are relevant to the impact on teaching

"There's an air of excitement now. There are new opportunities just around the corner." – School Improvement Partner.

"It's a really good place to work and learn in here. The children are just like adults, only shorter!" – Teaching Assistant about Year 5.

"They've really grown into mature little people, into themselves." – Teacher about YR children.

Evidence of impact on teaching

  • Evidence from observation and monitoring
  • Evidence from planning
  • Teacher perceptions

Describe the evidence of impact on teaching

Teaching profiles:

  • 100% improvement by at least one category
  • 33% improved by 2 categories
  • 33% showed evidence of some outstanding practice
  • practitioners have cascaded their experiences within and beyond their schools
  • practitioners more readily quantify their judgements of progress
    through evaluation of pupil data, children's work and discussions and
    observations of children's learning processes.

What has been the impact on school organisation and leadership?

  • Subject Leaders have taken on board what practitioners have discovered to wider areas of practice, for example leading to revisions of their planning policy to support focused elements of learning, rather than looking for detailed description of activity.
  • The renewed emphasis upon teacher as 'learning facilitator' has empowered Foundation Stage leaders and practitioners, who have much to share relating to the role of the adult (see 'Continuing the Learning Journey' CPD materials)..
  • The CPD process has validated practitioners' self-evaluations of their own practice, chanelled it positively and creatively and ensured they reflect upon how they can draw upon the expertise amongst each other to nurture and grow together..

Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on school organisation and leadership

"She really enjoyed doing her staff meeting. She had loads to say, and it all made so much sense." – Headteacher talking about CPD input being cascaded to colleagues, within their own school's context.

Evidence of impact on school organisation and leadership

  • Policies reviewed and updated, with increased ownership by classteachers.
  • Subject Leaders developing colleagues within & beyond their own schools.
  • Increased networking between neighbouring schools.
  • Tighter and more robust monitoring and evaluation, including use of this to continue professional development and school improvement.


What is the crucial thing that made the difference?

"Stopping still to reflect!" – Headteacher, about importance of evaluation to the process of school improvement at all levels.

Learners (both children and adults) feeling like they have ownership of their own learning processes has empowered them, boosted their confidence, increased rate of growth and improved capacity to sustain this.
The above had to be true of learners of all ages, children and adults alike, practitioners and coaches alike, for the process to have greatest and most sustainable impact.

What key resources would people who want to learn from your experience need access to?

What CPD session and resources were particularly useful?

If another individual or school was attempting to replicate this work, where would they start and what would the essential elements be?

  • Identify SEF/School Development Plan priorities
  • Develop tightly focused, 'SMART' CPD element
  • Set up grouping for lesson study process and carry out the study
  • Plan for how and when monitoring and evaluation of impact will occur (e.g. link with Performance Management)
  • Use information to review SEF/SDP priorities, etc.

What further developments are you planning to do (or would you like to see others do)?

  • Twilight sessions planned for summer 2008 (led by Leading Teachers and Advanced Skills Teachers) regarding exploration of a Year 2/3 transition unit, specifically designed to exemplify teaching strategies for grammatical features at Phase 2 of the Teaching Sequence for Writing;
  • Continue to build into all our training some suggested uses of lesson study/class-based enquiry etc, with examples of tight foci to study relating to that training;
  • *Embark on own lesson study, to further develop use of cross-curricular opportunities for writing conferencing and use of speaking & listening APP (Assessing Pupil Progress) pilot materials to inform writing assessment information.


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