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Spelling stages

The ability to spell is strongly affected by cognitive differences and therefore achievement in this area of language is significantly individualised; of all the aspects of language, the ability to spell has the widest variation. While there is a strong link between reading and spelling ability, it is not uncommon for good readers and speakers to be weak spellers due to cognitive preferences. The intention of the spelling programme is to move pupils continually through the stages of spelling ability to become a functionally correct speller.

On the way to being a correct speller, approximations to spelling are encouraged and tolerated while at the same time increasingly correct spelling of words within a child's common vocabulary is expected.

Within each class there will be several different levels of spelling ability.

Stages
Key Outcomes
Pre-communicative:
  • Speech can be recorded by graphic symbols
  • Uses scribbles, letters, numbers at random, no letter/sound correspondence
Semi-phonetic:
  • Speech can be recorded by written words
  • Letters stand for sounds
  • Alphabet knowledge improving
  • Some letter/sound correspondence
  • Some high frequency words used
Phonetic:
  • Every sound feature of a word is represented by a letter or a combination of letters
  • The written form of a word contains every speech sound recorded in the same sequence in which the sounds are articulated
  • Beginning to use initial and final sounds
  • Increasing bank of high frequency words
Transitional:
  • There are a variety of ways to spell the same speech sounds
  • Many words are not spelt phonetically
  • Every word has a conventional spelling
  • Developing visual knowledge as well sound
  • Beginning to notice silent letters
  • May use all letters but not in the correct order
Correct:
  • It is necessary to spell words correctly so that they may be read easily by self and others
  • Recognising the different usage of similar sounding words (tail/tale)
  • Uses word structures learned – prefix, suffix, contractions
  • Mastered irregular spelling
  • Can proofread

See also Spelling learning objectives