Phonics and Spelling
Mr Smith is the Assistant Principal and is our Phonics and Spelling Curriculum leader. If you would like to know more about our approach to teaching Phonics and Spelling, please contact him at: CSmith01@alvaston.theharmonytrust.org.
“When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible. But when it’s flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.” Marilyn Vos Savant
Spelling is important. In recent years, there has been a renewed emphasis on the significance of spelling in primary and secondary schools, with concerns expressed in wider society about a perceived decline in standards over the last three decades. In response to these concerns, revisions to the English National Curriculum were made in 2014 to set standards for spelling at various age levels and to confirm the continuation of formal testing of spellings at the end of Key Stage 2.
We believe that spelling is vitally important and is an essential aspect of learning about language. Teaching spelling also fully supports the underlying knowledge and skills required in reading and vocabulary development.
It gives the Alvaston child a fundamental skill that is a requirement for life outside school, especially in employment. It helps our children compete on a level playing field when it comes to job opportunities and further and higher education. It supports accurate and fluent reading and text comprehension.
Without they would not be able to read and write to a proficient standard. Vocabulary development would be impeded, and children would be unable to reach the prescribed standard for writing at the end of Key Stage 2. Children would find it harder to comprehend what they were reading.
Learning to spell underpins our school values…
Accurate spelling helps our children to be confident. Spelling, the art of correctly assembling words from their letters, is one of the essential components of successful writing. Being confident at spelling leads to confidence in all aspects of literacy. The ability to recognise the links between words of the same origin and understanding word relationships has been proven to aid comprehension skills. Teaching young spellers the strategies, rules and concepts to grow their spelling and vocabulary knowledge benefits them in all aspects of their learning, as well as in their everyday life. Learners who feel confident with letters and word patterns are able to read and comprehend more complex texts. They also have the necessary language tools to better convey their own ideas through both written and verbal communication.
Being able to spell helps our children show kindness. Being able to spell helps children with their language development and reading ability. This in turn leads to a range of positive benefits including enhanced relaxation, calmness, concentration, self-esteem, empathy and kindness.
Being able to spell helps our children demonstrate respect. As literacy levels improve, children are more likely to trust in others and understand their own and other people’s identities according to research from The Reading Agency.
Becoming better at spelling helps our children improve their motivation. As spelling knowledge increases, less of our working memory is taken up sounding out letters and remembering spelling patterns. This means that children are more able to enjoy the experience of reading a great story or discovering exciting new facts. It allows them to concentrate on crafting their writing without the cumbersome need to be continually worrying about spellings or having to use a dictionary.
Our spelling programme is part of our commitment to a high-quality English programme that enables our pupils to achieve at the best standards they can in their time with us and prepares them for secondary school and higher education. We are passionate that all our children are fully equipped to undertake a full part in society and being able to spell accurately forms part of that.
The National Curriculum for spelling at Key Stage 2 states that children should be able to:
- use prefixes and suffixes and understand how to add them
- spell words that are often misspelt
- spell homophones
- spell some words with silent letters (upper KS2)
- use knowledge of morphology (how words are formed) and etymology (the origin of words) to aid spelling (upper KS2)
Spelling: our aim
To ensure that spelling forms:
- a central part of our teaching and is not relegated to an afterthought or placed on the back burner
- that skills are taught explicitly and are based upon a sound knowledge of phonics
- best practice is used in inform teaching that stresses the logic and rationality behind the spelling of most English words
- part of a much broader study of the English language in both its oral and written forms
The Teaching of Spelling
Our teaching of spelling follows the requirements of the National Curriculum, in particular the Statutory Requirements set out in the ‘English programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2’ (including English Appendix 1: Spelling), September 2013
School wide, we use ‘Spelling Shed’, a powerful online platform developed by EdShed to deliver our spelling programme. This platform has been built with students, teachers and parents in mind and aims to make spelling fun for children as well as simple for adults to manage. The scheme has been created following key National Curriculum objectives and will take our children through the statutory and non-statutory spelling lists in each age phase. The scheme of work for spelling gives 100% coverage of the National Curriculum including all statutory words and spelling rules. The scheme is broken up into a weekly progression with a Spelling Shed list for each week plus printable activities and resources to aid teaching.
Features of the scheme include:
- the ability to create unlimited custom lists and search for others' lists within the platform
- A tablet and mobile game for students to use to practise spelling
- an online game, which gives access to the platform on all current desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices
- simple management of student records, teachers and classes.
- the ability to set and monitor homework assignments for e.g. weekly spelling lists.
- whole-class Hive games that allow all pupils to play alongside each other as an alternative for a weekly spelling test.
Why is it important that we teach spelling well?
Research has found that spelling, reading, writing and comprehension skills are all closely linked. Spelling instruction improves reading ability, as it builds a learner’s knowledge of the alphabetic system as it is used in reading. Accordingly, it is a central part of our programme of study.