Writing for real, purposeful and relevant contexts

The Framework for secondary English, together with the programmes of study and functional skills in English, all emphasise writing for realistic and purposeful contexts.

What are the benefits?

The focus on real, purposeful and relevant contexts, helps to:

  • engage and motivate pupils by widening the range and content of English study
  • reflect and support learning in other subject areas
  • take pupils beyond the classroom and prepare themfor the transition into the next stage of learning and employment
  • create greater collaboration, discussion, interaction and dialogue between pupils
  • develop thinking and generic problem-solving skills that lead to the independent and creative application of writing skills.

Defining these contexts

The following definitions are based on examples from module 2 of functional skills core training.

Real contexts are:

  • grounded within recognisable, real-life challenges and situations, and practical, work-related tasks
  • problems with a range of solutions and actual consequences
  • connected to real audiences and working environments
  • interactive, involving professionals and workers
  • linked to the local and global communities.

Purposeful tasks:

  • have a clear outcome with achievable goals
  • are open-ended pathways in which pupils choose and justify appropriate routes through problems
  • lead to feasible and acceptable solutions
  • provide opportunities for pupils to select and apply a range of skills.

Contexts are relevant to pupils':

  • individual experiences, interests, education, home life, goals, further learning, and aspirations
  • needs, which help them to secure new skills and gain qualifications.
  • Issues and challenges

    Once English departments have defined real contexts, find out how they might focus on collaboration and plan for several outcomes. This is part of 'Improving writing' in secondary English.

  • Using real contexts

    Real contexts do not have to be explicitly ‘real’ (for example, oral activities related to work experience). See how they can be developed using a range of approaches with close links to English. This information is part of 'Improving writing' in secondary English.

  • Online resources

    Find background information on a selection of the many websites that offer real contexts for writing, which can engage pupils through classroom activity and homework. This information is part of 'Improving writing' in secondary English.

  • Supporting independent learning

    Independent learning is one of the skills developed within English. See here how it relates to real-contexts and how pupils can develop independence when asked to write a website landing page. This information is part of 'Improving writing' within secondary English.

  • Action checklist

    This list of suggested actions can help to focus and prioritise teaching of writing for real-contexts. It is part of 'Improving writing' in secondary English.