Beginning Academic Writing

While embedding a culture across a school takes time, you can begin to improve your students’ academic writing straight away.

We have collected a range of tried-and-tested approaches for you to use. Each focus area includes an example, along with different resources to help you tackle the problem.

Lesson Plans and Downloads

Nouns and Noun Phrases


Pronouns like ‘this’, ‘it’, ‘they’ and ‘these’ are particularly common in speech.

Because of their frequency and usefulness in speech, students often use pronouns in their writing, which can make it difficult to follow their ideas.

Moving Beyond P.E.E.


Students often use ‘Point, Evidence, Explanation’ to structure their paragraphs but relying on this model can constrain their writing.

These resources explore ways for teachers to broaden discussions of paragraph structure, enabling students to move beyond simplistic formulas in their written work.



Students often have a simplistic understanding of formality as the difference between an email to a friend and a letter to a doctor.

However, formality in academic writing is a lot more nuanced. Students can find it difficult to get the tone right, as the appropriate level of formality will vary depending on the subject and the task.



Modal verbs are used in writing to indicate likelihood, ability, permission, or obligation. The most common modal verbs are: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will and would.

When students analyse texts or images, they tend to fixate on one interpretation and use the verb ‘is’ to express it.