Spelling at Gorefield
SPELLINGS - YEAR 1 - YEAR 6
Since September, we have been reviewing the ways in which we teach spelling.
Making use of the latest research and detailed analysis of the outcomes for our children, we have decided to clarify our methodology and practice of how we teach spelling.
What is working well?
Phonics - Every day, every child in Year R, 1 and 2 is participating in a high quality, synthetic phonics lesson using the Story Time phonics programme. This programme of study is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read, write and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky’ words, which are words with unusual spelling patterns or that contain graphemes (written sounds) that have not yet been taught. We know this is working well because the results of our statutory Phonic Screening Checks continue to rise. As children become competent in using their phonological understanding to make sensible attempts at spelling words, for example that the word ‘beak’ could be spelt ‘beek’, ‘beak’ or ‘beke’, children need to move beyond phonics to learning about other strategies to choose the correct spelling. This broadening of understanding begins in Year 2 and supports children in rooting their understanding in the context of written text.
Support from home
The support you give your child at home, whether this be in reading their books at home, completing homework activities or simply in spending time talking together, makes a positive difference to how well your child progresses in school. We do recognise that your time as a family is precious and want to ensure that what we ask you to do is as effective as possible.
What could we do even better?
Spelling lists –
Research shows that the traditional spelling test is one of short term memory and does not support children in understanding the principles of spelling. Recent scans of the brain have shown that when children learn spellings for a test they are using a different part of their brain entirely from when they tackle spellings in the context of their writing. Analysing the spelling of our own children has confirmed this. Children who perform well in spelling tests show little or no improvement in their spelling within other writing. Children who find learning spelling lists difficult, not only do not use the spellings correctly in writing but also find the task of learning spelling lists stressful and often feel unnecessary pressure on the day of the test. The pressure on parents to ‘drill’ their children on spelling lists as well as the expectation that every child should read regularly at home and complete other homework activities gave another reason for us to review our practice.
How will we ensure our children become successful at spelling without a test?
The daily work we undertake in phonics in KS1 and the weekly spelling lessons where the rules are taught and the word classes rehearsed, will have a greater focus on spelling. To increase the impact of this work, in every class the spelling words for each week will also be the spelling focus in all of the written work that the children undertake for that week. This will mean that the children will not only be taught how to spell the words, but will be given every opportunity to use and apply these spellings in context. The relationship between spelling and handwriting will also become a focus through phonics lessons and applied in all writing.
The physical flow of writing will then be supporting patterns for spelling. For children who have moved beyond phonetic spelling, mainly the children in Year 2, they will build a ‘spelling log book’. This log will be an individual record of the spellings that each child needs support with during a writing lesson. The words will be taken from mistakes made in their own writing or words that the teacher wants the children to spell correctly relating to their Geography, History, Science etc as well as English. We will encourage the children to build up their own Dictionaries in this way. We have ensured that there is a stock of dictionaries in school and children will be taught and encouraged to use them to support their work. During lesson time staff and teachers will model how the words are said, talk about word classes and create word banks to display on the board for further support.
How can you help at home?
To support you in understanding how children develop as successful spellers and how you can best support at home, we have provided a list of the Year 34 and Year 56 words that all children are expected to know by the end of their key stage. If these lists could be referred to at home whenever writing occurs and sometimes when reading – can they spot the words?
Please speak about words at home, please encourage children to talk about spelling rules, the phoneme and grapheme parts of words, rules of spellings, words that sound the same, etc.
The focus words for each class will be sent home at the beginning of each half term for your information. These words will not be ‘tested’ but there will be an expectation that over the course of the half term, all children will make progress in spelling these words correctly within their writing. We hope that you find the information in this letter helpful. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to speak to your child’s class teacher or Miss Cunningham or Mrs Bailey. Happy spelling!