To support the planning and delivery of spelling in school, we use the Jane Considine Spelling Book approach. This is a clear and systematic approach which will provide our pupils with life-long strategies. Spelling is taught logically so that pupils understand how ‘probability matching’ (Diane McGuiness) of sounds heard to grapheme representation will strengthen their spelling. It has been developed to ensure breadth and coverage of all the National Curriculum spelling requirements for each year group.
‘The Spelling Book’ provides a coherent system for teaching spelling consistently and supports pupils to define what it means to be an effective speller. The underlying structure of the approach is based on three zones of spelling. The patterns of spelling are taught through the GROUPINGs, the pressure of spelling is eased through the IMPROVINGs and the remembering and recall of spelling through the AQUIRINGs. ‘The Spelling Book’ focuses on the importance of learning patterns and of the investigation of words rather than on testing. Letter-join handwriting scheme is used to support spelling activities through the school.
Spelling in Foundation Stage 1
Spelling in Early Years is fundamentally taught through phonics. In Foundation Stage, activities are set up in provision for children to practise and rehearse their newly learnt skills taught in sessions. These are sometimes guided but often independent. As soon as children enter our setting, they will be ‘mark-making’ using a wide variety of resources such as chalk, pens, pencils, crayons etc.
Letter formation and correct pencil grip is taught throughout Reception alongside activities such as brain gym and looking at the children’s midline. The use of playdough in the enhanced provision is a strengthen tool for their hand muscles to ensure children are ready to write. The use of the interactive whiteboard is tool used to help children show control on a larger scale. Outdoor learning provides opportunities for children to use paint brushes with water. Mud painting on clear easels is another way the children can build on their fine motor control and how to hold a pencil correctly and effectively.
Beyond the RWI programme, children continue to apply the strategies learnt in phonics lessons to spelling through use of Jane Considine's spelling vehicle: The Spelling Book.
Daily lessons involve activities to develop etymology (where words originate from) and morphology (how words are structured, such as adding prefixes and suffixes), as well as continuing to develop children's awareness of alternative spellings for the sounds they know.
Every two weeks, children investigate the sound and spelling patterns of a set of words and become 'word detectives', identifying the same sound and spelling in their reading. A lot of children can perform in a spelling test, but cannot apply these spellings in their writing, therefore this list of words is not sent home to learn. This is in order to develop their pattern spotting and sound correspondences for application in their writing.
The Jane Considine Spelling Book is not a scheme, it’s a way of teaching spelling that allows teachers to bring the ‘wonder of words’ to life. It provides a clear structure and support to teachers whilst also allowing room for creativity,
Each class will learn spelling rules, strategies and word lists specific to their year group ensuring that all National Curriculum fundamentals are covered in detail. These rules and strategies will be further embedded by use of the Spelling Shed program.
It is a fully comprehensive approach that targets reading patterns of spelling, the pressures of spelling and the remembering of spellings. It is a system that is based in strong phonics teaching with a focus on teaching pupils the connections between words, their sound associations, etymology and patterns.
Teachers are guided through the rationale and approaches to ensure that they have a deep understanding of the processes they can follow to become more effective teachers of spelling. Pupils will extend their knowledge of phonics throughout their time in primary school. They will improve their outcomes as they develop a culture of becoming ‘pattern finders’ and ‘spelling detectives’ instead of being demotivated by the repetitive failure of the weekly ’spelling test’ and they will acquire a range of strategies to apply during real-life composition of writing.
It is a way of teaching spelling that relies on teachers to bring the ‘wonder of words’ to life. The Spelling Books provide structure and support to teachers whilst allowing enough room for creativity, ensuring that all National Curriculum fundamentals are covered.
Children are taught to how to segment to spell during phonic sessions and this is continuously rehearsed during writing sessions and when in the provision. High frequency words are also taught during phonic sessions and these are then on display so children can access them at all times when they are writing. Phoneme mats and spelling mats are also used to support children when they are attempting to write and spell independently.
Spelling in Key Stage 1
As with Foundation Stage, spelling in Key Stage 1 is fundamentally taught through phonics. In Year 1, phonic sessions continue to teach children how to segment to spell using known phonemes/graphemes. As Phase 5 introduces lots of alternative phonemes for each grapheme, children are taught the spelling rules and how to choose the ‘best bet’. Children are encouraged to ‘have a go’ and often make incorrect choices but as long as attempts are phonetically plausible, that’s ok! As mentioned previously, spelling lags behind reading as spelling is harder.
In Year 2, phonic sessions continue. It is during Phase 6 that children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers. Spelling in Year 2 is formally assessed at the end of the year when the children complete their end of Key Stage SATs.
Spelling in Years 2 to 6
In Years 2 to 6, weekly discreet spelling sessions are taught, using ‘The Spelling Book’ approach. Spelling will be taught over a continuous two-week cycle. During week one of the cycle, children will take part in two sessions (one 20 minutes long and one 30 minutes long)– an ‘investigation’ session where they explore a hypothesis and a ‘Go Grapheme Grafters’ session where they explore patterns within words. This builds on, and continues to embed, phonic strategies taught in KS1.
During week two of the cycle, children will take part in five 10–15-minute sessions – Daily Fast Tasks. These sessions are to improve pace and take a much quicker look at spellings. They involve analysing common errors, exploring why these errors occur and what to do to ensure that the correct spellings are embedded into our long-term memory.
Pupils will also work on their own, individualised spelling plan. These are called ‘My Focus Five’. With support of the class teacher, children will identify five words that they are finding tricky to spell. These will be recorded in their spelling journals on their ‘Focus Five’ grid. They will identify the tricky part and think of ways to remember how to spell those words correctly. Once these words have been used correctly in their writing three times, new words will be identified to focus on.
Spelling is assessed formally at the end of Year 6 when the children complete their end of Key Stage SATs. In other year groups, spelling is assessed twice per year through our optional SATs programme. There is also a baseline spelling progress check, within ‘The Spelling Book’ approach, which will be carried out twice per year – during the first two weeks of term and again at the end of the year. A Spelling Age will be calculated based on results of the spelling assessment, which will be compared with a student’s chronological age. (Please see our Assessment Policy for further information)