: Getting Writing Right: An in-depth case study into the revising and editing process Tony Philcox, Deputy Headteacher and writing lead at Swindon Village Primary, recalls unpicking the writing journey


Getting Writing Right: An in-depth case study into the revising and editing process

Tony Philcox, Deputy Headteacher and writing lead at Swindon Village Primary, recalls unpicking the writing journey

by Gloucestershire Research School at the Gloucestershire Learning Alliance
on the

Tony Philcox

Tony Philcox

Tony Philcox, Deputy Head Teacher and writing lead at Swindon Village Primary recalls how unpicking the writing journey has supported writing outcomes for children

Read more aboutTony Philcox

The intricacies of how to support and model each step of a writing journey is something that is of particular interest to any English Lead, with getting writing right’ at the forefront of any writing action plan. Guiding children through the process of producing their own writing remains a source of great joy to me, even after 28 years in the classroom, whether that be writing a story or performing a poem.

Breaking down the writing process

The EEF’s guidance report – Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 (EEF, 2021) defines the steps of the writing process as follows:

Getting Writing Right 1

Reading this guidance made me once more consider the continuing journey of our school in its attempt to get writing right’. Feedback from staff and children led me to understand that the greatest challenges to the writing process were revising and editing: stages which in my experience can often be referred to and used as synonyms, when in reality they mean so much more as individual steps.

Editing and improvement stations

It was a conscientious and skilled Newly Qualified Teacher who spoke to me after a staff meeting, which really got the ball rolling. I was instantly reminded of a powerful book Unleashed’ by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss (Frei and Morriss, 2020) who assert the importance of seeking a broad range of opinions when making changes and not to limit yourself to the views of senior colleagues only. I am always appreciative of the passion and skills of our newest teachers.

Through discussions, we agreed simply writing three stars and a wish’ for each child was proving ineffective and that finding the time for one-to-one writing conferences with each child was proving to be impossible: a promising strategy on paper, but unsuccessful in reality. He suggested a third way: Editing and Improvement stations’

The EEF Guidance Report on Improving Literacy (EEF, 2021) points out that each stage of the writing process should be carefully modelled and practised. This was a crucial element of the stations. In this model, children would receive a series of short modelled sessions on improving a specific aspect of their writing. Typically, the children would visit four to five stations where they would have the opportunity to improve a specific aspect of their writing after an adult had briefly modelled how they would make improvements.

Understanding terminology and purpose

Clear definitions of revising and editing supported teachers to fully understand the difference between the two components of the writing journey:

– Making changes to ensure the text is accurate and coherent

- Making changes to the content of writing in light of feedback and self-evaluation

From this starting point, the year group team planned and refined a series of steps for modelling and supporting the editing and revising of written work.

Getting Writing Right 2
 The process of editing and revising stations

The importance of CPD

CPD for staff to fully understand the purpose of editing and revising stations was crucial. We carefully considered how to utilise the professional expertise of the teachers who had been so enthused by this approach. Videoed sections of their lessons were used as part of a twilight session, alongside samples of pupils’ writing journeys. Planning support was then offered to all teachers as editing and improvement stations were embraced.


We used pupils’ work with our new approach and compared them with prior samples. There was a clear and obvious improvement in the frequency and quality of revising and editing using the new approach. Videos of pupil interviews where pupils explained how and why their writing was better after the editing process were particularly well-received by staff.

Subsequent monitoring confirmed that by revising our own writing process we enabled our children to revise their written work in a far more thoughtful and considered manner. Children developed their ability to critically (but empathetically) analyse and support their peers with their writing.

Key take-aways

Each stage of the writing process requires careful thought and consideration, as does making any change to existing practices. The success of the editing and revising relied on skilled, enthusiastic staff to refine and develop a new approach; CPD for staff; and most importantly a clear shared vision. The Schools Guide to Implementation (2024) from the EEF supports such implementation strategies, whereby careful consideration to behaviours and contexts are at the forefront.

Is collaboration, research led strategies and careful CPD the key to getting writing right’?


Education Endowment Foundation (2021). Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2. [online] EEF. Available at: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/education-evidence/guidance-reports/literacy-ks2.
Education Endowment Foundation (2024). A School’s Guide to Implementation. [online] EEF. Available at: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/education-evidence/guidance-reports/implementation.
Frei, F. and Morriss, A. (2020). Unleashed : the unapologetic leader’s guide to empowering everyone around you. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review Press.

More from the Gloucestershire Research School at the Gloucestershire Learning Alliance

This website collects a number of cookies from its users for improving your overall experience of the site.Read more