Navigating the 2014 English Curriculum: 10 Key Takeaways for Teaching Spelling

If you are in the first year or so of your teaching journey, here are some key points to help give you an overview which can be very useful.

Ingrid Connors

Congratulations if you are in the first year or so of your teaching journey. I still remember how much there is to absorb as an ECT in terms of the craft of teaching and the knowledge needed across so many disciplines. Here are some key points to help give you an overview which can be very useful when you start out.

1. Embrace Explicit Teaching

One of the core principles of the updated curriculum is explicit instruction. When it comes to spelling, don’t assume students will absorb correct spellings through osmosis. Instead, actively teach spelling rules, patterns, and strategies to empower them with the tools they need.

2. Prioritise Phonics

Phonics remains a cornerstone of good EYFS and KS1 provision. In KS2 do not lose track of this base of knowledge the children enter KS2 with. Sometimes there are gaps which need filling. Explore your school’s SSP and any intervention materials it produces for KS2. This link will make provision in your school much more joined up.

3. Explore Word Origins

The curriculum places emphasis on exploring the origins of words. Teach students the etymology of words, showing them how prefixes, suffixes, and root words influence spelling. This knowledge adds depth to their understanding and aids in retaining spellings.

4. Contextualise Spelling

Spelling doesn’t exist in isolation. Encourage students to encounter words in various contexts – from literature to real-life applications. This exposure enhances their vocabulary and reinforces correct spellings.

5. Promote Independent Learning

Foster a culture of independent learning. Encourage students to use dictionaries, thesauruses, and digital resources to verify spellings. Empowering them to take ownership of their learning journey is a key goal.

6. Celebrate Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

Errors are stepping stones to growth. Embrace a growth mindset and create an environment where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities. Encourage students to identify and correct their own spelling errors.

7. Incorporate Spelling Games and Activities

Learning through play engages students effectively. Utilise spelling games, crossword puzzles, word searches, and interactive online platforms to make spelling practice enjoyable and effective.

8. Diverse Assessment Strategies

Assessment isn’t limited to traditional spelling tests. Include a variety of assessment methods, such as dictation exercises, peer evaluations, and spelling bees. This holistic approach provides a comprehensive view of each student’s spelling skills.

9. Differentiate Instruction

Recognise that students have varying spelling abilities. Differentiate instruction by tailoring activities and resources to suit individual learning needs. This inclusivity promotes growth for all learners.

10. Collaboration and Professional Development

Engage with fellow educators and attend professional development opportunities to exchange strategies and insights. The journey to enhancing spelling instruction is a collaborative effort.

Remember, this guide is just the starting point. Dive into the curriculum guidance to uncover more detailed strategies and resources to enrich your teaching journey. By embracing these key takeaways, you’re not only teaching spelling but also fostering a lifelong love for language and communication in your students.

For more information, refer to the 2014 DfE English Curriculum and embark on this exciting journey of shaping young minds through the power of words.

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