Writing level descriptors

Below are the key characteristics of the different levels for writing. You can use these to support your child, but they should not be used to make a decision about what level they are at as this is not the sole contributor.


Working at Level 1 children can:

  • Use capital letters and full stops when punctuating simple sentences
  • Write most letters, correctly formed and orientated, using a comfortable pencil grip
  • Write with spaces between words accurately
  • Use the space bar and keyboard to type their name and simple texts
  • Spell new words using phonics as the prime approach ie ‘sounding out’ words eg brush, crunch
  • Use knowledge of common patterns in spelling eg adding -s / -es for plurals, -ly to make slow-ly, -er to make slow-er
  • Use key features of stories in their own writing ie ‘copying’ ideas, words, phrases for their own writing
  • Find and use new and interesting words and phrases, including story language
  • Create short simple texts on paper and screen that combine words with images
  • Compose and write simple sentences independently to communicate meaning

Working at Level 2 (a typical Year 2 child) children can:

  • Write legibly, using upper and lower case letters appropriately
  • Use correct spacing within and between words
  • Word process short texts, eg stories, poems, even made-up sentences which contain the spelling words from spelling lists
  • Spell with increasing accuracy and confidence, eg use word recognition, knowledge of word structure, spelling patterns such as –ing and –ful, and use of double letters such as smooth and sleeping
  • Compose sentences using consistent tense and person
  • Use question marks, and use commas to separate items in a list
  • Select from different presentational features to suit particular writing purposes on paper and on screen eg use lists, headings, bullet points
  • Make adventurous word and language choices appropriate to the style and purpose of the text

Working at Level 3 (a typical Year 4 child) children can:

  • Write consistently with neat, legible and joined handwriting
  • Use word processing packages to present written work and continue to increase speed and accuracy in typing
  • Distinguish the spelling and meaning of common homophones eg to / too / two, where / were
  • Know and apply common spelling rules
  • Use commas to mark clauses eg Feeling very nervous, Tom walked towards the cellar door
  • Use the apostrophe for possession eg Tom’s heart was racing as he walked towards the door
  • Vary sentence structure eg look at the two sentences above about Tom – one has a powerful opener, one has powerful description
  • Summarise and shape material and ideas from different sources to write convincing and informative non-narrative texts eg write a report about tigers using information from websites and other books
  • Show imagination through the language used to describe
  • Organise text into paragraphs: change the paragraph for a change of speaker, place, subject, time or mood

Working at Level 4 (a typical Year 6 child) children can:

  • Use different styles of handwriting for different purposes, eg using CAPITALS sometimes
  • Select from a wide range of ICT programs to present text effectively and communicate information and ideas
  • Select words and language drawing on their knowledge of different text types and formal and informal writing
  • Punctuate sentences accurately, including using speech marks, apostrophes, brackets, exclamation and question marks
  • Use paragraphs to achieve pace and emphasis
  • Maintain viewpoints
  • Use different techniques to engage and entertain the reader eg repetition, metaphors, descriptive details

Working at Level 5 children can:

Typically, children can continue to develop the skills described for Level 4, but with greater effectiveness and with greater precision or detail. For example:

  • Children who are able to select words and language drawing on their knowledge of different text types and formal and informal writing should also experiment with the visual and sound effects of language, including the use of imagery, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme
  • Children who punctuate sentences accurately should also use semi-colons( ; ), dashes ( – ), ellipses ( … ) and all other punctuation accurately