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How to teach spelling?

Relying on phonics to teach spelling to primary school children can create problems, according to an educational expert.

Megan Dixon, director of literacy at the Aspire Educational Trust, has described her own experience of helping to teach one particular class of low-attaining Year 5 pupils. She suggested the students were misspelling words because their previous teaching had focused too much on phonics.

“The children were spelling words exactly as they sounded – with no sense of whether they should be written in that way or not,” she wrote in an article published in the TES in December, 2017.

She worked with a subject leader and once they had identified reasons why the children were struggling, they came up with various solutions.

“We showed them how to notice the patterns in words by paying close attention to the sequence of the letters as they were written – and not to just rely on hearing the sounds in the words. We gave them a daily diet of word sorts, got them to identify spelling features in words, to spot spelling patterns – for example, beat, seat, treat and feat – to practise spellings and sentence dictations.”

Ms Dixon’s thoughts highlight that there are various approaches to the teaching of spelling. So what is the best way to cover the subject?

Red Box Books recommends the Spelling Skills books from Collins Treasure House. These valuable resources consist of Teacher’s Guides and Pupil Books that tackle the National Curriculum objectives with a systematic programme of spelling activities.

They’re part of Collins Treasure House, a collection of books and digital resources for teaching English to children from Foundation to Year 6.

All the titles are available from Red Box Books. We can provide you with the whole collection, or create a bespoke suite of Treasure House resources, perfect for you. Feel free to get in touch today to talk about the best Treasure House pack for your school.

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