At Leven Valley, we aim to teach children to be confident and accurate spellers from an early age. Learning to spell can be tricky as the English language is so complex! Therefore, as well as providing the children with a strong foundation for spelling through our discrete phonics and English lessons, we wish to support individuals to find the strategies and techniques that work best for them.
Progression in Spelling
In the Early Years and Key Stage 1, children receive daily, small-group phonics lessons. In phonics lessons, children learn to segment words into individual sounds and record the correct letter, or groups of letters, to represent those sounds- these are known as grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs). In Reception, children learn to spell with words containing the GPCs taught in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of our phonics programme.
As the children move into Year 1, they are introduced to new GPCs and new spelling patterns, as taught in Phase 4 and Phase 5. They also learn that there are alternative ways to spell the same sound- for example, the /igh/ sound in 'night' is spelt differently to the /i_e/ sound that we find in 'slide'! Similarly, the same grapheme can produce two different sounds. In the word 'tie', the /ie/ grapheme makes a different sound to the one we find in 'babies'. The children must therefore begin to make more accurate spelling choices, choosing which spelling of the sound is most appropriate. This process is largely driven by their growing experience of reading.
In Year 1 and 2, children practise spelling words that use previously-taught GPCs, as well as some 'common exception words'. These exception words are words that contain GPCs which have not yet been taught as widely applicable, either because they are occur rarely in the English language, or because they appear rarely in age-appropriate words. Examples of all these words appear in the English National Curriculum- Spelling: Appendix 1.
As the children move into Class 2 and 3, teachers continue to emphasise the relationship between the sounds and the letters, even when the spelling pattern is more unusual. They also learn to recognise and apply new spelling patterns and strategies. The word lists for Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6 are statutory, and are again listed in the English National Curriculum- Spelling: Appendix 1. The lists feature a mixture of words pupils frequently use in their writing and those which they often misspell. These words are taught within English lessons in Key Stage 2, alongside other words that teachers consider appropriate.
Children in Years 1- 6 take home a set of words to practise each week, which supports the spelling patterns learnt in school. It also helps to involve parents in their child's learning and to inform them of the spelling expectations of their age group.
Teaching spelling in English lessons
Within dedicated English lessons, opportunities to teach and learn new spellings occur during:
1) Shared Reading - teachers highlight and discuss the spelling of a new words
2) Shared Writing - teachers model the spelling of new words and encourage children to recognise and discuss new or unusual spelling patterns.
3) Guided Group Work - children identify and learn spellings from each other, guided by the teacher
4) Independent Work - spelling activities, including investigations, word searches and spelling practise using the 'look, cover, write, check' technique.
5) Plenary - results of investigations are discussed and new strategies established.
Teaching Spelling across the Curriculum
The same expectations for correct spelling are made within writing in all curriculum areas. Similarly, it is not just within English lessons that new words and spellings are introduced. Words associated with each topic are introduced and celebrated in all of our curriculum subjects. New words linked to topics are highlighted within knowledge organisers and word lists, which can be found on display in the classroom or within the children's exercise books. This enables children to refer back to these when using and spelling these new words in their independent work.