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The Big Write – The Big Write is a whole school program introduced into the Junior School in 2017.This is a teaching approach based on the research of Ros Wilson, a literacy expert based in the UK, and has been adapted to link to the Australian Curriculum. It focuses on four main aspects of the writing process (VCOP) and provides children with the skills to improve their own writing through self-assessment.

What is The Big Write and VCOP? – Big Write and VCOP create a positive ethos towards writing for all students, regardless of age, gender or ability. It raises the standard of writing and motivates students to want to write. The Big Write methodology is ‘if they can’t say it, they can’t write it.’ Students are encouraged to be ambitious with their vocabulary choice, up –levelling their work, whilst focusing on the elements of VCOP in their writing. They are taught to self-assess their work, analyse their writing and set goals for improvement. VCOP is the acronym for vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation, the four elements of how to improve writing. These elements are taught explicitly in the classroom through motivating games and activities.

Talk Homework and The Big Write – On the night before The Big Write, students will be given the topic for their writing the following day. They will be given a note naming the topic and genre (narrative, persuasive, report) and they are encouraged to talk with family members about their topic, and gather ideas and language, because ‘if they can’t say it, they can’t write it. The following morning students will prepare for the Big Write. This will start with some games/activities to key them into writing, followed by some talk time with partners. The Big Write is when uninterrupted writing takes place, in a dimmed classroom with quiet music playing and a candle lit. The timing will be different in each grade, with stamina for sustained writing built up over time.

It has been wonderful to hear the excited chatter in the corridors as students discuss what they are going to write about, sharing ideas and exciting vocabulary. I have been heartened to hear from teachers how much more writing stamina boys are coming with, and the majority of students able to write independently for longer periods of time. Our Reception students are not ready to begin yet, as they are still settling in to School routines, however by the start of Semester 2 they should be ready to join in too.

Look out for regular updates in the newsletter throughout the year.

Ceri Slinger
Head of Junior Years – Learning and Teaching Excellence