Spelling in the Curriculum

Spelling is an integral part of the writing process. A child or adult who spells with facility is able to concentrate on the content of the writing and the making of meaning. While it is important to remember that spelling is not the most important aspect of writing, confidence in spelling often has a profound effect on the writer’s self-image. Accurate spelling implies respect for the reader and also recognises the deeply embedded notions about correctness which we hold as a society about spelling.


Spelling is taught as part of a planned programme, following the requirements of the NLS Framework. In addition handwriting lessons and shared and guided reading and writing sessions afford many opportunities for talking about spelling and revisiting and practising strategies.

Spelling activities are often used during independent time, e.g. for group investigations, and the results of those investigations reported during the plenary session. The teaching of spelling of subject specific vocabulary occurs in all subjects and opportunities are made in these lessons to reinforce spelling work undertaken in the literacy hour.

Teaching and Learning

The teaching of spelling aims to develop children as independent spellers who take an active part in their own learning. This will be through a multi-sensory approach incorporating the development of fine motor skills, auditory discrimination and visual perception. Children will be taught the knowledge and skills they need to become independent spellers. Routines and structures will be provided to enable children to apply what they learn about spelling independently.

Continuity and Progression

Early Years

The emphasis at this stage is multi-sensory linking the teaching and practising of letter shapes and patterns with the development of the child’s ability to listen to and discriminate between the constituent sounds which make up a word. Much of this will occur through games and activities which encourage focused listening in music, dance and P.E. as well as literacy activities where there is a focus on rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.

Children learn at an early stage how to discriminate and make the connection between letter sounds used in reading and letter names used in spelling.

Phonic teaching is carried out using the N.L.S. Framework and other support material eg. Jolly Phonics, Letterland, Letters and Sounds  and Progression in Phonics.

Developmental writing is encouraged to give children confidence; it is crucial that

children at this stage in their development as writers do not become over-concerned with spelling accuracy. Support is given to spelling by providing writers with aids such as letter charts, simple word banks and picture dictionaries to stimulate interest in and enthusiasm for words.

Key Stage 1

For spelling purposes, the emphasis is on the children’s ability to segment words

into phonemes and then matching the most likely letter or letters to each sound by accessing the alphabetic code. Phonic teaching is supported by use of elements of Progression in Phonics.

In addition the children need to build a vocabulary of number of sight words, high frequency words and common irregular words as listed in the NLS Framework to enable them to write fluently. Many of these words are taught and learned phonemically. They investigate and learn to use common spelling patterns, frequently used prefixes and inflectional endings in their own writing.


Children become increasingly independent. They identify reasons for misspellings

in their own work and are taught how to use a simple dictionary, a range of word banks (including those on computers) and their knowledge of word families. The ‘Say-Look-Cover-Write-Check’ routine is established and risk-taking in the spelling of unknown words is encouraged. Children should know what their responsibilities are in terms of spelling and when they may seek assistance from an adult.

Key Stage 2

At Key Stage 2 there is an emphasis on the recognition of letter strings, visual patterns and analogies, the application of spelling conventions, the use of a range of word resources and the morphology of words. Nevertheless, it is recognised that some children will need to consolidate the phonic knowledge and skills from Key Stage 1.

Within the literacy hour there is a gradual shift from teaching at word level to teaching at sentence level. However, an expectation remains that there should be explicit teaching of spelling 3-4 times a week.

An investigative approach is taken to the teaching of spelling, which is supported by the activities contained in the Spelling Bank (DfEE 1999) and the NLS Sheets (DfEE 1998). The NLS details the National Curriculum programme of teaching, but teachers need to use their professional judgement in order to pitch the teaching at the appropriate developmental level.

Building on the approaches introduced in Key Stage 1, there is an emphasis on developing confidence and independence. Children assume increased responsibility by identifying their own spelling errors, making reasoned choices about likely alternatives and using a range of resources (including spellcheckers and a variety of dictionaries and word banks) for making corrections.


Where children have made limited progress in their ability to segment words for spelling, a targeted programme is required. The Additional Literacy Support materials (DfEE 1999) intended for children in Years 3 and 4 are very useful and the programme has been devised for a teaching assistant working with small groups of underachieving pupils. Those children who need even more support can usefully work through this programme at a slower pace although a lot of consolidation will be necessary.

Individual programmes for teaching and support will be drawn up as appropriate by the class teacher in consultation with the SENCo.

The Learning Environment

Children’s independence as spellers will be enhanced if the teacher provides a rich and lively learning environment supported by well chosen word resources and interactive displays.

The Role of Parents and Carers

Where appropriate spelling investigations are carried out as homework activities which, on occasions, can be reinforced subsequently by learning at home those words which the children are likely to use in their own writing. From time to time the child may also learn words listed in their spelling book.