Big Writing

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Big Writing is an approach to teaching writing developed by Ros Wilson and marketed by Andrell Education. The aim of Big Writing is to advise schools on how to raise attainment level in speaking, listening and writing. The method is currently used by numerous schools, primarily in the UK but also overseas. The target audience for Big writing are Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 students (i.e. those aged 5 to 11), although a slightly adjusted method is also taught that focuses on Foundation stage pupils and is known as 'Big Talk'. Andrell Education claims that Big Writing has proven to be successful in a number of schools,[1] both with teachers and pupils, and points to case studies as evidence of this case studies.[2][3][4][5][6]


The first part of the Big Writing course to be developed was the Criterion Scale, an assessment tool linked to National Curriculum levels. From October 1999, Ros spent three years working with the Kirklees LEA re-assessing work other teachers had already graded. During this time she read through and marked around 20,000 pieces of writing and observed that some teachers struggled to properly assess work, and had too high of an opinion of their pupils' writing. She also noticed the students who were underachieving, particularly the ones that teachers had given too high a grade, all had similar weaknesses in their writing. Ros Wilson decided to develop a standard that teachers could use to assess pupils' writing more accurately, and in a way that Wilson claims is more scientific.[7][8] Using this, Ros believes teachers can more accurately assess a student's work, and provide better targeted teaching and more helpful feedback. [9]

In order to address the weaknesses in children's writing that she noted as being common across schools, Wilson identified four features that she believes are key to improving writing in the primary age range: vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation, or V.C.O.P.[10][11][12][13] Stealing and borrowing are also encouraged when pupils see elements of V.C.O.P. in peers' work that they like.[3][14] Together with the Criterion Scale, V.C.O.P. became a core part of the Big Writing approach, which Wilson and Andrell Education, have promoted through books and professional development courses.

Big Writing also emphasises talk for writing, and that pupils need to be taught to speak Standard English in order to help them make fewer spelling and grammar mistakes in their writing.

Andrell advises that classes have regular Big Write sessions (ideally lasting one and a half hours, in order to allow children time to write at length), perhaps once a week, as well as regular short exercises throughout the school week in which children develop writing and editing skills with a focus on V.C.O.P.

Ros Wilson also advocates creating a positive environment for a writing through the use of candles, music and whatever else a teacher feels is beneficial in creating the right mood for learning.[15]


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