Best Practice

Literacy: Combining sentences across subjects

Encouraging active use of sentence combining across different subjects can help to improve writing fluency. Mark Miller explains

An ability to write fluently is a prerequisite for success in most subjects, but there are lots of reasons why our students cannot achieve this. Fluency happens when attention is placed on writing composition without the need to focus on some other elements which require additional cognitive resources.

This means that to free up cognitive resources, we need to ensure that automaticity is achieved in handwriting, spelling and sentence construction.

The Education Endowment Foundation, in its guidance report Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2, states: “Pupils need to learn to construct increasingly sophisticated sentences, for meaning and effect, with speed.”

Don’t let the key stage mislead you – there are some clear implications for secondary teachers too. One of them is to extensively practise sentence combining. The notion of sentence combining is straightforward. Let’s take the following two sentences:

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