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Post by chew8 » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:54 am

I’ve just got round to reading the May magazine from ATL. It includes a letter about Key Stage 2 assessment from someone (presumably a teacher) who writes this about spelling in particular:

‘To be deemed to be working at the expected level, children are expected to know ‘most’ of the random list (based on no research, and which often do not equate to the rules required to be studied in the spelling curriculum) drawn up for Years 3 to 6’.

I’ll draw a veil over the writer’s dodgy grammar and just address the content of the above.

Each of the ‘rules required to be studied in the spelling curriculum’, not only in Years 3-6 but also in Years 1 and 2, is illustrated by several example words, and there are many more of these example words, in total, than of words in the Y3-6 lists referred to above as ‘random’. In any case, very little in the lists should come as a surprise, given all that should have been taught beforehand, starting in Y1, so in that sense they are not 'random'.

The NC spelling appendix is organised in a way which reflects the fact that good spelling, in English, requires both knowledge of general principles (notably to do with phonics and morphology) and word-specific knowledge. I recently saw a good illustration of this in some free writing done by a Y2 child who is an excellent reader and speller. He had misspelt ‘obnoxious’ as ‘obnoctious’, which showed a good grasp of phonics and morphology – ‘-ous’ is a common ending and ‘-ti’ is a common spelling of /sh/ before that ending. He probably hadn’t seen ‘obnoxious’ in its written form, however, and hadn’t realised that it has a very unusual spelling – I think that it and ‘anxious’ are the only two base words with the ‘x’ spelling.

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