Trips to the zoo and visits from war veterans can help youngsters who struggle with writing, a study has found.

New research suggests that writing about a "memorable experience" can help improve these pupils' skills in the subject by around nine months.

The study, published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), analysed the results of a writing project involving hundreds of pupils at 23 primary and three secondary schools, including around 260 children who were unlikely to score a Level 4 - the standard expected of their age group - in their national curriculum, or Sats, writing test at age 11.

National figures show that last year, around one in six pupils left primary school without reaching Level 4 in writing.

Youngsters taking part in the project were taken on a fun day out, including trips to the zoo, local caves, a castle as well as visits from artists, a Second World War veteran and a man who worked with birds. They were then taught to write about their experience, including how to evaluate and improve their work and took a standardised writing test at the end.

The findings show that pupils who were struggling to reach Level 4 in their literacy made an extra nine months progress if they took part in the project, compared to similar youngsters who did not take part.

Dr Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said: "We probably all remember being asked to write about an exciting day out at primary school. This project starts by giving all children access to an enjoyable experience, and then uses a structured approach to writing and reviewing to significantly improve their skills.

"It's rare to find schemes that demonstrate such a large impact when they are rigorously tested. That's why we are excited about the potential this project could have in helping struggling students significantly improve their writing skills."