This primarily relates to students already in KS3, but I'm getting increasingly irritated by our daughters (at NLCS and HBS) being set homework that presupposes their ability to write proper essays, but without any decent teaching on how to go about writing an essay. So this mission falls to us, the parents.
When we were going around some of the schools with the girls, I asked if they were taught essay-writing and was told "yes", but I suspect I was asking the wrong people...
I have some pretty strong ideas about how to plan and construct an essay (and am less passionate about the "turn of phrase" within that structure). I reckon I could teach essay-writing quite well, but not to our daughters - It's a bit like getting your parents to teach you driving - a very bad idea!
So I wondered if this is a wide-spread concern, and whether there are any tutors who specialise in such things?
A pet theory of mine would be that instead of actually writing essays, some homework should be set that asks for mind-maps or just structured dot-points (so no prose!). Separating form from content should (in my not so humble opinion) help development of an argument to a point where the prosificiation (apologies to language-purists) of the material can be undertaken.
I'm also a big fan of Barbara Minto's technique of report-writing, the teaching (and practice) of which I feel should be mandatory in KS3/4.
From what I've seen over the years (DC 1 and 2 at uni, DC3 in Y13, DC4 in Y11)
taught how to write essays in so far as what to write to attain a good grade in GCSE / A level.
Would you call it good essay writing though?
With the variety of subjects and levels my DC have negotiated over the years I have noted that a copy of the subject / board specification is needed. Each subject / board / level has different things it wants to see in essays and the students are taught to meet these requirements.
Essay planning in this house is in the form of AO1, AO2, AO3.. point, evidence, explanation... etc. It's all about meeting the requirements. Even A level English Lit is full of AO's; A level RS seems more flexible.
We're (still) just jumping through the hoops of the education system.
By your definition (possibly),
a 'good' essay might get a D grade and a poor one may get an A grade!
Don't you just love it!