Addressing the Writing Gap

Addressing the Writing Gap

In August last year, I caught up with RTLB (Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour) representative Petula, and she said: “I just found a really good resource. There’s a book and you need it.”  So we got fired up—googled Write that Essay—and arranged a meeting with founder, Dr Ian Hunter.

Within five minutes of meeting Ian, I just thought ‘Where was this man when I was at training college?’

 Three different teachers, three different learning styles; we were all sitting there like, this is the missing bit.  

We’ve been trying to address the writing issue for 20 years, and nobody is getting the message that we keep on trying to do the same things. Well, it’s not working. So when we met Ian, it was something different, and I felt like it was the missing link. It was very specific. It wasn’t broad. It was actually skills. And I was just like, this is what I’ve been looking for. This is what’s lacking from my kids writing. I was really excited to hear about it. I have been really concerned about sending my kids off to high school underprepared. Writing has been a focus at Northcross Intermediate for several years now, and our kids do reasonably well, but we’re still not making a difference.  So if I see something and it’s working—excuse me—we’re going to buy it.

The government throws money at a lot of things, we’ll never know how much money they have thrown at writing and trying to lift kids writing abilities from Year 1 to Year 13 over the last 20 years. But actually, we have a system here that is Write that Essay, and it’s working. In fact, RTLB service really rated it. 

" I taught in a primary for 10 years. We were running a programme called Reading Recovery, so students who are 6-years-old and they’re the bottom 2% of the country.  Reading recovery is the answer for 92% of our hardest to shift children. At 6-years-old we test them, we administer the reading recovery programme for 16 weeks and it will shift 92% of them and they will close the gap and continue. There’s 8 percent that don’t shift.

So essentially, it is the answer for any failing junior school child who has not picked up reading. The magic bullet for 92% of them. I saw Write that Essay, as the magic bullet for writing. "

Brooklyn, he’s the kid who you’d think is almost unteachable. He’s a year 8 and had a reading age of 5-and-a-half last year. Now, with Write that Essay Brooklyn is writing three paragraphs voluntarily. Last year, you literally had to hold him at knife point and you might get two or three incomplete sentences over the miserable process of an hour.

My ESOL’s love the modules on Write that Essay, they go home and do them voluntarily. I’ve got results right here, right now. Results are results: it’s evidence. Yet, it’s the whole range – it’s not just the bottom half. 

I say to my students, we could carry on with maths, or we could carry on with your writing on Write that Essay; they say “Please let us write!” And honestly, if before I had said we’re going to be writing an essay now, they’d have begged “No, please no!”  The last couple of days I’ve given them some sessions to work on it: I can’t believe they’re all silent—they’re loving it.

 It’s just a resource that is spot on, exactly what we need to get the job done and teach our kids to write properly.


Case Study

Teacher   Jane Edington, Literacy Leader, Northcross Intermediate
Objective   Get students writing
Key Impact   Improving teacher capability