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Our Ethos


Spelling at Stonebow

The Teaching of Spelling

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. 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 spellers without a test?

In EYFS and Year 1 all children will continue to participate in a high quality, synthetic phonics lesson each day using the Read Write Inc. program. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read 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.

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.

Children who have moved beyond phonetic spelling, will be taught using the Spelling Shed scheme. Spelling Shed’s approach to spelling involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols as well as using morphology to help spell through meaning. Each week, children will be introduced to a new word list where all of the words are examples of the spelling pattern for the week. The word list will be used to help the children explore and learn about the spelling pattern through different activities. 

As well as the learning at school, the word list for the week will be assigned for each child on Spelling Shed which can be accessed through the school website for free or by an app available on App Store and Google Play. By logging on to Spelling Shed, children will be given the opportunity to practise and build their confidence in spelling through a game-like format. Children in Year 2 and above should have their own login details to access Spelling Shed. A handy parent guide is attached to this message and will also be uploaded to the school website. The word list each week will not be ‘tested’ but there will be an expectation that children log on to Spelling Shed and practise at home. If your child does not have access to the internet at home, please speak to their class teacher so that we can provide alternative arrangements.