Teacher of English, David Murray’s blog on Styles of Writing

David has been teaching for longer than any of his students have been alive. He was born at a young age in west London. Growing up near the M4 and Heathrow, he dreamt of going to great places. And so he moved to Stoke. When he isn’t reading, he is writing. And when he isn’t writing, he’s sleeping. He finds it hard to do all three at once.


David Murray – is an experienced English teacher and examiner who is part of our English team here at the college

Writing is not easy. Think back to when you first learned to write. You’d get your letters back to front, you’d get your spelling wrong. Even holding a pen was an effort. You might be able to remember when it was a big thing to just write your own name. Even when you’ve mastered the physical act of writing, it can still take years (decades, even), to master the art of writing. We do not expect every student to be a poet but we do want everyone to write clearly enough for their ideas to be easily understood.

The types of writing can be explained with any number of names: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative, for instance. Even here, though, there may be a variety of interpretations. What we want is good, clear, concise and accurate writing. Reading University’s guide to writing in an academic style might help: https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/writing/style

When you move on to higher levels of study, you do not leave behind the basics. You never leave the basics behind; you just build on them. So, for instance, you may have thought you had heard the last of SPaG. I’m afraid to say, you haven’t. The A in A Level stands for Advanced. You are expected to be able to write to an advanced level. A Level is the highest possible level of academic achievement outside of a degree. So you need to show a high level of SPaG. But your teachers will not have time to teach you SPaG; that should have been done before you got into our classrooms. So, if you know you struggle with commas or your teachers are always correcting your apostrophes, don’t shrug it off. Sort it out. Go online. Look up any of the thousands of websites that explain SPaG issues. And learn to do it right. When a piece of work is handed in riddled with SPaG errors, your teacher may breathe a silent sigh. Don’t make your teachers sad. 

Help will be available to any students who struggle with things like dyslexia, since nobody should ever be disadvantaged in education. When people struggle with writing, it can make them feel unintelligent. But that is simply not the case. Intelligence and dyslexia are not linked. Writing is a relatively recent invention in terms of the human story. It is only around three thousand years old. That is, it has only even existed for about two and a half percent of the time modern humans have been around. It’s an artificial thing to write. We are turning basically arbitrary shapes and squiggles into meaning and that is no small thing to do. Of course, it is a wonder that we can write since it allows us to transcend time and space. Once upon a time, you could only convey your thoughts to people who were with you, in a particular time and at a particular place. Writing released us from such constraints. Now, though, I can know the thoughts of someone long dead who lived in a very different world to mine. Writing is time travel. It’s a wonder. But it isn’t easy. We will ensure that whatever help you might need is provided. 

It is no surprise that the best writing is usually done by people who read. So, we would encourage you to read, read, read. Read widely. And read much. And notice how good writers write. 

Further guides to look into regarding good academic writing:
The University of Leeds – Academic Writing
The University of Sheffield – Academic Writing