Whilst supporting early reading development, phonics and spelling are an integral part of the writing process. Pupils who spell with ease are able to concentrate on the content of their writing and the making of meaning. While it is important to remember that spelling is not the most important aspect of writing, confidence in spelling often has a profound effect on the writer’s self-image. Accurate spelling implies consideration for the reader and also recognises the deeply embedded notions about correctness which we hold as a society about spelling.
Entitlement and curriculum provision
Spelling is taught as part of a planned programme following the requirements of the National Curriculum.
It is the entitlement of Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 to a daily session of phonics. It is expected that in Key Stage 2 children will have regular explicit spelling sessions with weekly spellings being closely linked to spelling patterns and rules. We use NFER Single Word Spelling Test to diagnose spelling difficulties and to group children (Y2 to Y6) according to patterns that they do not yet know.
The Nature of Spelling
Spelling is a developmental process. The stages through which children pass as they develop as spellers are the following: pre-communicative, pre-phonetic, phonetic, transitional and 'correct'. An understanding of the developmental spelling stage of each child will aid teachers in their teaching. Spelling s a visual motor skill and children will therefore need to develop visual strategies in order to spell correctly. Phonic knowledge alone will be inadequate. Children therefore need to be encouraged to look carefully at words. Children may also need to be helped to understand how the English spelling system works and how our history has influenced our spelling.
Spelling is an important aspect of writing but one that should not be allowed to dominate our marking and assessment. The content of children's writing should be valued.
Children need help and encouragement in order to develop as confident, competent spellers because the ability to spell most words correctly is often closely associated with positive self-esteem and affects performance in other areas of the curriculum.
Teaching and Learning
The teaching of spelling aims to develop pupils as independent spellers who take an active part in their own learning. This is through a multi-sensory approach incorporating the development of fine motor skills, auditory discrimination and visual perception. Pupils are taught the knowledge and skills they need to become independent spellers. Routines and structures are provided to enable pupils to apply what they learn about spelling independently.
Teaching aims to show pupils how to become natural and accurate spellers. The programme approaches this in three ways. Firstly, by using a structured approach as outlined in Letters and Sounds (using Jolly Phonics), the Renewed Framework and Support for Spelling. Secondly, by ensuring that pupils learn and practise those words which they most frequently misspell as individuals. Thirdly, by increasing their spelling vocabulary by learning how to spell and by using the technical and subject-specific words which occur across the curriculum.
All classes have a set of spelling activities to support regular opportunities for children to practice learning spellings that they need next.
Spellings are linked to the National Curriulcum word lists for each year group
The 'Look, Say, Cover, Write and Check' approach to learning the spelling of words will be taught and encouraged. Children will be taught to look for common letter strings, patterns in words and spelling rules. Spelling games will encourage children to look closely at words.
Where possible, children will be encouraged to:
The school's approach to spelling will be applied across the curriculum. Children will be taught in their normal class group, although there may be exceptions as outlined under SEN. To assess the pupils, they have an informal ‘test’ each week to identify the extent to which they have learnt the spelling rules they have been working on.
All teachers will be responsible for the planning and teaching of spelling in accordance with the National Curriculum.
Teaching will take into account each child's developmental stage in spelling and all children's best attempts at spelling will be valued and built upon. Children will be shown which parts of a word are correctly spelt and those which need attention. Teachers will not allow the correction of spelling errors to become dominant. All spellings will be marked in conjunction with the schools Marking and Feedback Policy. All children will have access to suitable dictionaries and thesauruses appropriate to their age.
The learning of spelling will be encouraged as part of the home-school partnership and weekly spellings will be sent home to practise, in readiness for a test in school. Children will be given words according to their developmental needs, so the amount and level of difficulty will vary. Most spellings will be set as part of a list, others might be in the form of a sentence/s and may include the learning of definitions of words and punctuation.
Special Educational Needs (SEN)
Some children, who may be experiencing specific difficulties, will have additional spelling sessions taught in small groups by our Intervention Teacher. For those with specific learning difficulties, HLTA, TA or LSA support may be needed on an individual daily basis. When a child is given spellings to learn as part of additional support work, they will not be expected to learn extra words to those set by the teacher; it is therefore crucial that staff communicate effectively with each other in order that the child is not over-loaded.
Marking Spelling - Guidance for teachers
Continuity and Progression
The emphasis at this stage is on systematic, multi-sensory, high quality phonics work which is embedded within a rich language experience. The phonics programme used, Letters and Sounds, is firmly based upon the above principles and reflects the renewed Primary Framework and Early Years Foundation Stage. Phonics will be taught daily. Jolly Phonics is also introduced alongside.
Age-related expectations are that the children will be working within phase 3 or 4 of Letters and Sounds by the end of the Foundation Stage. This is by the end of their third term in Reception which may occur in Year 1.
The application of phonics in writing will be offered through shared and guided writing and independent writing opportunities related to the six areas of learning.
Where children are in danger of not meeting age-related expectations, the school will take appropriate action in order to support the child’s progress during the year. If at the end of the reception year children have not met age-related expectations, then the school will consider their eligibility for Early Literacy Support in Yr 1.
Key Stage 1
Letters and Sounds will continue to be taught on a daily basis. For spelling purposes, the emphasis is on the pupils’ ability to segment words into phonemes and then match the most likely letter or letters to each sound.
Year 1 and 2 (and some of Y3) are split into differentiated groups for their daily phonics session. The groups are planned for by the Class Teacher and assessments are completed at the end of each phase. We utilise all available teaching and support staff to teach these groups.
In addition pupils will continue to learn how to spell a number of high frequency words and common irregular words enabling them to write fluently. They investigate and learn to use common spelling patterns, and frequently used prefixes, suffixes and inflectional endings in their own writing.
Pupils become increasingly independent. They identify reasons for misspellings in their own work and are taught how to use a simple dictionary, a range of word banks and their knowledge of word families. The ‘Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check’ routine is established and risk-taking in the spelling of unknown words is encouraged during guided and independent writing. Pupils should know what their responsibilities are in terms of spelling and when they may seek assistance from an adult.
Key Stage 2
At Key Stage 2 there is an emphasis on developing a range of strategies to remember how words are spelled. The use of a range of word resources and the morphology of words is developed further. Nevertheless, it is recognised that some pupils will need to consolidate the phonic knowledge and skills from Key Stage 1.
Within the English lesson there is a gradual shift from teaching at word level to teaching at sentence level. However, an expectation remains that there should be explicit teaching of spellings (using the class set of activities alongside each child’s personal list of spellings) at least twice a week.
Building on the approaches introduced in Key Stage 1, there is an emphasis on developing confidence and independence. It is expected that pupils assume increased responsibility by identifying their own spelling errors, making reasoned choices about likely alternatives and using a range of resources (including spellcheckers and a variety of dictionaries and word banks) for making corrections.
Assessment and Monitoring
Group leaders plan and implement weekly spelling tests focussing on the phoneme of spelling pattern(s) being taught. A record of these are kept and monitored. Additional spelling practice is implemented with specific groups of children. Some children do not do this as a ‘test’ for self-esteem reasons.
Phonics tracking will be used for all children being taught in the differentiated groups from Reception to Year 3.
Results of progress and standards will be discussed with the Literacy coordinator and action points will be implemented accordingly. Assessment details of Year 6 will be forwarded to secondary schools upon transition.