Initial Evaluation of the Impact of Big Writing

Jennie Harland, Marian Sainsbury, Laura Lynn

01 August 2014

This report presents the findings from an independent initial evaluation of Big Writing carried out by the NFER for Oxford University Press, the publishers of the Big Writing handbooks for teachers. Big Writing aims to raise standards in primary writing using a mixture of fun oral Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation (VCOP) activities and focused extended writing sessions. Data was collected from 11 primary schools across a six to eight week period during the summer and autumn terms of 2013. This included 635 baseline and endpoint pupil writing assessments and writing attitude surveys; 28 baseline and 21 endpoint teacher surveys; and qualitative telephone interviews with five teachers.

Key Findings

  • The majority of teachers were positive about the usefulness of Big Writing training; saw the value of the approaches and felt Big Writing had been embedded as a whole school writing approach.
  • The comparisons of pupils’ writing performance and attitudes at baseline and endpoint show no statistically significant changes overall. Though, a smaller proportion of individual pupils show noticeable improvement in their before and after writing task scores and evidence of progression in the key aspects of writing highlighted by the Big Writing approach.
  • Pupils felt they had slightly more opportunities to discuss writing since Big Writing had been implemented and there were positive changes in the regularity with which they wrote emails, text messages, letters and cards to friends and family.
  • Teachers perceived a range of impacts of Big Writing on pupils’ writing performance and attitudes, including increases in pupils’ enjoyment of writing, writing confidence and writing skills.