Talk for Writing

Talk for Writing is the English strategy used across Sapientia Education Trust that has a proven record in developing independent writers.

Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett supported by Julia Strong and the Talk for Writing team, is powerful because it is based on the principles of how people learn. The movement from imitation to innovation to independent application can be adapted to suit the needs of learners of any stage.

The Talk for Writing approach enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects. A key feature is that children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’ as well as close reading. The approach moves from dependence towards independence with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully.

Schools underpin their English work by establishing a core reading spine of quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction that all children experience and draw upon. Imaginative units of work are developed to create a whole-school plan that is refined over the years, is well-resourced and documented to release teachers from planning and preparation so that they can focus on adapting their teaching for children’s learning. 

What primary teachers think

“Previously we did lots of speaking and listening but it didn’t seem to emerge in the writing. The Talk for Writing techniques really motivated the children. Now they automatically read what they have written and discuss whether it sounds good. It has transformed the way they write.”
Leading teacher from Primary National Strategy Talk for Writing project primarysay

“I’ve had such a great time in the last year doing Talk for Writing with my class that I really want to share this. The effects were extraordinary. I could see the effect in all the subjects and the evidence in the books is amazing. When you watch the children write, now you can see them thinking about how to compose.”
Shona Thomson, teacher showcasing impact of the approach at the non-fiction Lewisham conference

“Having done a lot of oral storytelling with KS1 children, I was a little sceptical about getting Year 5 children to stand up and get really involved in expressive oral re-telling. How wrong was I?!”
Maria Wheeler, teacher on Lewisham non-fiction project

What the children say

“Dear Pie Corbett, I am writing to you because I think your ideas about how to get children to stand up and say stories is brilliant. I used to hate writing. It was boring listening to the teacher groan on and on because I would just sit there and do nothing. Also then it was hard. Now I love it because it is so much more easy and I produce more work. I think it’s got easier because our teacher teaches us all the things and then we learn stories that include all the things. I also feel more confident…”
Pupil’s letter to Pie Corbett presented as evidence of impact by teacher on the Sheffield Talk for Writing project

“I also find it helpful actually saying the words so I know what kind of words I can use for my own writing. It’s amazing how much I’ve improved my writing, though I can’t spell every word.”
Pupil from Sheffield Talk for Writing non-fiction project

“It helped me to memorise it, and drawing the pictures was fun. Usually, I don’t enjoy writing but with this we got to act out and learn in a fun way. Now I know what the writing should sound like and then I can write about anything.”
Sunil, pupil from Lewisham Talk for Writing non-fiction project

“Yes I like writing more because I like the flow of writing – it feels good in a way. I’m concentrating and listening more and that has helped my writing.”
Hope, pupil from Lewisham Talk for Writing non-fiction project

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