Writing in classrooms seems to me to have two wildly different, conflicting purposes: a limited, traditional and strict purpose – because exams, like many decent jobs, will be about written skill; and a wider, idealistic one: the ultimate method of exchange of ideas in depth. So, first, we should repeatedly use formal tests to acclimatise students to exam-specific writing requirements – dull, precise, necessarily regular. And beyond that, we’d let writing have free rein, encouraging students to be as ambitious, open-ended and wide-ranging as possible. That would mean loosening up most classroom time outside of the revise/test/peer-mark cycle to be about project work, self-directed learning, talk and flexibility; and we’d make the recording of learning a highly flexible process, for students to write what, and when, they like.
So I’ve spent the past few months with GCSE and A-level classes doing absolutely no writing at all beyond sample tests and student blogs.