Key Stage 2 External Writing Moderation: 5 awesome independent writing ideas

You work incredibly hard to help your Year 6 children master the spelling, grammar and punctuation content all whilst juggling language comprehension and promoting a love of reading (phew!). Fostering that love for creative writing can be a slog, but it needn't be! Whether you’re a seasoned writing moderation veteran or new to the process, fresh ideas to capture interest and produce some awesome pieces of independent writing are always welcomed. We have included all you need to know about the 2022 external writing moderation process and collated 5 short-burst writing inspiration ideas for you to trial in your classrooms.

What is external writing moderation?

Undertaken by your Local Authority (LA) trained moderators, the Key Stage 2 (KS2) external writing moderation is a government-driven assessment strategy to ensure fairness across all Teacher Assessment (TA) judgements nationally. It can be easy to fall into the, ‘But I know he knows it!’ mindset when assessing, this process relies on objective, independent evidence to prove the child is working within the given category.

The LA, each year, selects 25% of their schools to be moderated. This can be a random selection but can be ‘encouraged’ by one or more of the triggers, you can find more information on the possible ‘encouragers’ for writing moderations here (section 11.1).

Schools will be notified 2 working days before the moderation is due to take place. One or more LA moderators will complete the moderation, looking at a selection of pupils around 15% of the cohort’s evidence collection to compare to the TA that child has been given (if you have a small cohort, a minimum of 5 pupils will be chosen). The moderators will take a selection of pupils from each of the 3 standard categories:

Children who are assessed to be working pre-key-stage or where the engagement model (previously P-Scales) has been used will not be included in the moderation process.

How do I judge each child's writing standard?

Using The Teacher Assessment Framework, you will use the evidence collected from extended writing opportunities to make a judgement on the statements you can see the child has met, this is encouraged to be cross-curricular to show a breadth of skill application. Additional information can be found here.

The evidence needed to satisfy a standard will not be found in one piece of independent writing, this should be across several pieces of writing demonstrating different genres. If evidence can’t be found in the independent writing pieces additional forms of evidence can be used. If Year 5/6 statutory spelling lists (along with Year 3/4) are unable to be organically used in the written evidence, the use of spelling test data can be used in lieu. This applies also for handwriting, the use of handwriting exercises to show a child can meet this handwriting standard. Internal school and cross-school moderations are encouraged to be undertaken before the external moderation for confidence in TA judgements.

What is independent writing?


5 Engaging ideas to get awesome indpendent writing 

It can be difficult to generate independent writing opportunities. Sometimes what you need is a short burst of information to hook all children (even your reluctant writers) and a simple task that will produce writing that mirrors their understanding.

We have collated 3 of the best short-burst ideas for producing independent writing they will be proud to show off!


1. Skellig - Read in to Writing 

Descriptive narrative is a writing genre that demonstrates several statements in one piece. Children are often able to trial new grammatical features as well as play around with language. Skellig, by David Almond, is an excellent text to use as your vehicle to produce impressive writing. There is a full unit available here, with a film for reconsolidation and visual support for those who will benefit. When Michael discovers Skellig, this is a perfect opportunity to develop show-not-tell description, suspense building and sentence structure to reflect this tension. Another excellent writing piece is the description when Michael helps to tidy the garden, portraying it as a battle between man and weeds that can engage the reluctant writer. 


2. Tom's Midnight Garden - Read in to Writing

Opportunities to demonstrate the shifts in formality needed for Greater Depth can be challenging to create in modern texts. Using the free unit of work from Read in to Writing, there are a host of resources and writing ideas to stretch traditional vocabulary and phrases. This resource is often used for letter writing from Tom to Peter and is perfectly designed for diary writing, from several perspectives to show personal choice. The option to supplement the book with the filmed version can also be useful when you are against the clock.

3. Beach Comparison 

Thinking outside of the box for this next writing opportunity, an excellent one for those auditory and visual preference learners, they will write two detailed contrasting paragraphs. The first will focus on the chaos and the turbulence of a shoreline in a thunderstorm, just think of the adjectives alone. Moving onto the contrasting setting of a tranquil, calm after the storm.



4. The Blitz -

Moving to a historical focus now, World War 2 is an engaging yet complex topic, regularly studied in Year 6. Beginning with a contained slide focusing on all you need to know about The Blitz, this free resource from highlights technical and adventurous vocabulary and provides engaging images for the pre-writing discussion and is an excellent jumping-off point for newspaper articles, diary writing and radio broadcast play scripts.


5. Macbeth - Read in to Writing

Persuasive writing can be a challenging concept, highlighting Greater Depth writing skills when executed correctly. Speaking of executions… this free resource unit from Read in to Writing on Macbeth allows for persuasive letters, monologues and play scripts. A 6-week unit that can be easily used for short-burst writing for moderation. There are many online short film versions to allow for total understanding of the book when writing their speech from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth or even a defence or prosecution closing statement. The drama and role-play available will support the range of learning style preferences in your classroom. You can find over 24 free Key Stage 2 writing units packed full of writing ideas, here.

Know a Year 6 teacher who needs some fresh ideas? Share these top five with them.

Click here to learn more about Read in to Writing. 


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