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Teaching sentence variety

This section of teaching for progression in writing introduces a set of teaching approaches, with both reading and writing as their contexts, to help build, develop and secure pupils' understanding and use of sentence variety in their writing.

Recognising progression

Pupils will develop an increasingly mature understanding of a wide range of sentence structures and lengths, and will use them to create variety in their own writing. This is expressed in more detail in the substrand of the Framework.

  • Year 7

    Vary sentence length and structure in order to provide appropriate detail, make clear the relationship between ideas, and create effects according to task, purpose and reader.

  • Year 8

    Draw on their knowledge of a wide variety of sentence lengths and structures, including complex sentences, and apply it to their own writing to clarify ideas and create a range of effects according to task, purpose and reader.

  • Year 9

    Deploy appropriately in their own writing the range of sentence structures used by writers to enhance and emphasise meaning, aid cohesion and create a wide range of effects according to task, purpose and reader.

  • Year 10

    Select from the wide range of sentence structures used by writers, and shape, craft and adapt them in their own writing for particular effect with clear consideration given to the variety of audiences, tasks and purposes.

  • Year 11

    Shape, craft and adapt sentence structures, selecting from the wide repertoire of styles and types deployed by writers, and apply them accurately, creatively and appropriately to achieve impact and effect.

  • Extension

    Shape sentences in apt and accurate ways that demonstrate either economy of expression, elaborate development, or both, in order to create original and sophisticated effects and impact.

What aspects could be taught?

To become fully effective as writers, pupils need to know:

  • correct subject terminology – subordinate clauses, finite and non-finite verbs, and so on
  • how to vary sentence structures, using a variety of simple, compound and complex sentences
  • how to extend their use and control of complex sentences by recognising, exploring and using subordinate clauses in a variety of positions within the sentence
  • how to use connectives with attention to meaning, not just as writing prompts
  • the interrelationship between sentence structure and punctuation, and how punctuation is used to clarify and enhance meaning
  • the categories of sentences – statements, questions, commands and exclamations
  • how to avoid over-coordination in sentences
  • how to recognise that simple sentences are not always short or unsophisticated and are a vital tool for manipulating the reader.