Children writing

Please note: this guide was written before the 2014 National Curriculum and some of the advice may no longer be relevant.

How can we help children to write well, to do justice to their abilities through the written word?

The first step is to use verbal approaches to enable children to clarify concepts, explore appropriate vocabulary, and think about the form or genre in which they will write - here good examples to analyse are crucial.

This will involve much raising of questions, discussion and debate, brainstorming words on the board, role play and teacher modelling. Through such activities children gain confidence in their power to control and deploy language.

The Nuffield Exeter Extending Literacy project (EXEL) and the National Literacy Strategy have provided useful frameworks for helping children to write effectively, particularly through the use of writing frames and the explicit teaching of different writing genres. 

Writing frames

A writing frame provides a skeleton outline, a template, of key words and phrases (starters, connectives, sentence modifiers) to give children a structure within which they can communicate what they want to say in an appropriate form. Devise your own writing frames to suit your purpose.

Here are some examples Writing frames from David Wray

Effective writing

To produce an effective piece of writing, children need to take into account three elements:

  • the author: are children writing as themselves, or as an historical character?
  • the form or genre: such as letter, diary, report, argument
  • the audience: who is the writing for - teacher, friend, the public, or a historical character?

Most importantly, we need to give children a real purpose for writing and we need to praise their efforts, acknowledging good work publicly. 

Pictorial note-taking

Children practise pictorial note-taking in How the Tudors came to power

Short exemplar lessons


We give examples of children writing in the following teaching resources:

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