Do you think schools will be offering more help with children's spelling difficulties now that they'll be tested on them in Year 6?

(37 Posts)
bryte Tue 23-Jul-13 07:35:43

Despite DD1's (age 10, Y5) teachers assuring us that spelling would eventually improve as she is an avid reader, that has not been the case. Having read lots of past posts on here about spelling, I know what DD needs is a crash course in phonics. She became a free reader late in Year 2, aged 7 and a half, and it's always been obvious to me that she does not 'hear' separate sounds, but learnt to read by eventually recognising whole words. She spells inconsistently, often mispelling simple words, muddling up letters. When she encounters a new word to read in a book, her first guess could be that it starts with a letter she sees in the middle of the word.

At her last parents' evening, her Year 5 teacher said she thought she had some spelling issues but still insisted they would sort themselves out. I had it in my mind that I would work on spelling and phonics with her this summer. I know there are lots of suggestions for programmes in the archives here. I, of course, would rather not spend our summer doing this. I wonder if schools are now going to be giving support to the children who enter Year 6 as poor spellers, now that they will be measured on spelling. Wills chools even know the best way to teach spelling after X amount of years of it being deemed les simportant than writing content? Do any teachers or parents know? Our school has already broken up and I have had this thought too late in the day to be able to ask at her school!

bruffin Tue 23-Jul-13 07:49:07

Not sure why you are making this a political thing. My ds is 17 and spelling is part of the yr 6 sats and he did get a lot of help with his spelling in yr 5 and 6 with several different schemes such as word wall and stareway to spelling.He had 1 to 1 for this. His reading is on the surface fine, although apparently it was over 18 months behind at 16, but he reads adult books so doesnt really appear to be a problem. He is a very bright boy and I was told he got the extra help because there was a clear difference in his abilities. For KS2 he scraped a 4c by one point for writing but got a 5b for reading. He was clearly marked down for his spelling and punctuation. In yr 4 his teacher showed us one piece that she said was clearly level 4 for vocabularly but she could only give it a level 2 because of the spelling and punctuation.

bruffin Tue 23-Jul-13 08:05:33
bryte Tue 23-Jul-13 10:03:33

I wasn’t intending to make any political point. I had, in my mind, proposed to work on phonics and spelling this summer as I think she lacks the basic skills. A spelling test has been added to the Year 6 SATS this year and wonder if that is likely to mean there is an additional focus on spelling during Year 6 in the lead up to the SATS. I’d rather not spend our summer tutoring DD if she will finally get this help in school time.

Every school is different, so I don’t expect anyone to know about DD’s school, I just wondered if people were aware of things changing in their schools, whether they are a teacher or parent.

She has had extra help with her handwriting, which is also poor.

ClayDavis Tue 23-Jul-13 10:26:30

The year 6 SATS have always had a spelling test. It's the punctuation and grammar part of the test that's been added.

gleegeek Tue 23-Jul-13 10:38:12

Watching this with interest. Dd has just turned 10 and will start year 6 in September. Her reading is well above her chronological age, but her comprehension is iffy and her spelling is terrible. I've been saying to dh that I think there may be a processing problem which she has masked up until now...

I have been wondering if phonics are the problem too! Although your saying that your dds writing is ppor aswell made me wonder if she may have some sort of slight dyslexia/dyspraxia tendency? Definitely worth talking to school as soon as term starts (I will be too!)

bryte Tue 23-Jul-13 12:46:42

OK - I actually looked at the Dept for Education website and see that an externally marked written test has been replaced by an externally marked grammar, punctuation and spelling test, which is deemed to be an easier way of measuring those three components. Is that correct?

Hmmm, what to do about DD1?? Her 3 years younger sister will soon overtake her in presentation and spelling skills. I think I will have to devote some time to it this summer and then see where that takes us.

Her reading, comprehension, vocabulary and expressive writing levels are well above average. Her handwriting is improved by use of a slanting board and/or ergonomic pen.

PhoenixUprising Tue 23-Jul-13 12:54:17

1. Each teacher only cares about your child for 12 months. They always say 'don't worry, it'll resolve itself next year' - because they have no interest at all in next year.

2. Most schools and teachers don't know how to teach spellings. They have whole school spelling schemes with lists of words to send home every week. But they don't know how to teach spelling.

3. Spelling (and handwriting) count for such a small % of the overall writing grade that it's just not worth their while to focus on it.

4. If your child is put in a spelling intervention next year (which I suspect is unlikely) the odds are the spelling intervention will be a total waste of time - because if the school doesn't know how to teach spelling, they won't know how to run a spelling intervention either.

bryte Tue 23-Jul-13 13:11:41

Thanks. That's sort of what I suspected. I don't think I should have to do it myself but I think I am better equipped to do it myself. I don't wish to blame the indiviual teachers - they've been great teachers in so many other ways - but the system hasn't been conducive to equipping DD1 with all the key skills she is going to need for secondary school. She herself is starting to be concerned about her spelling, as she notices she struggles and makes many mistakes relative to her peers.

PhoenixUprising Tue 23-Jul-13 13:14:37

Spelling interventions you can do at home:

Stareway to spelling
Word Wasp
Hornet Literacy Primer
Apples & Pears spelling

Or you can just concentrate on Frys Word List which contains the 1000 most frequent words - which tend to be 10 out of 20 of the words in the spelling test.

gleegeek Tue 23-Jul-13 13:25:37

I think spelling now counts for something like 20 out of 50 marks so it does have renewed significance. I do agree that some schools don't know how to teach spelling... What is the solution? Are there any good online resources for this? I do think we will need to do some work over the holidays, no bad thing to keep an eye on things, although I do also believe that they need a holiday and complete break as well... Hmmmm...

PhoenixUprising Tue 23-Jul-13 13:25:59
Crumbledwalnuts Tue 23-Jul-13 13:28:09

It's up to the parent and has been for quite a while.

bruffin Tue 23-Jul-13 13:29:30

My DS can spell out loud, but he cant spell on paper. He can spell the same word 5 different ways on the same page.Something goes wrong between his head and the piece of paper. Just as he cant always remember a sum from looking at the board to writing it down on the paper.

I did say above his reading is considered behind but he has excellent comprehension skills and has thrived at secondary school in top sets. He is considered to have sld and does get extra time for exams.

gleegeek Tue 23-Jul-13 13:52:35

Thanks Phoenix I'll have a look at those... Sorry for the X-posts - am answering calls at the same time!

bryte I guess we'll just have to make sure we tackle school early in September and insist on our dc's literacy being checked out. I think some schools have a tendency to 'miss' children who just get on with things and appear to be quite bright...

lottysmum Tue 23-Jul-13 14:31:12

This is post is interesting because I have my daughter's schools SATS for the year 6 ....Its a big Cohort at 122 and just a state middle school...I was surprised at the results very good level 5 nearly 50% in all the SATS tests ..over 92% achieved level 4 plus in English Reading and Maths but it was only 84% in Grammar Punctuation and Spelling test...

Periwinkle007 Tue 23-Jul-13 15:55:37

if she finds it hard to break down words phonetically then it is perfectly possible she is a compensating dyslexic (dyslexic but has found a way to work round it, like learning whole word recognition in spite of being taught phonics because it is the only way she can do it). My daughter is the same but a lot younger, she has irlen syndrome certainly (contrasts a problem and letters move around, can't see punctuation etc - she uses coloured glasses which help tremendously) but also shows some strong dyslexia signs although she is a good reader. As my mum was a teacher and I have spent a lot of time helping her read we noticed the signs when we realised about the irlen syndrome. We have put an enormous amount of extra effort into phonics and making sure we speak clearly to sound out all the sounds in the words to help her. She can now spell really well phonetically, not correctly but she is only 5 but she can get the sounds right and she is able to break down new words when she comes across them. I think you are right to look at possibly going back to phonics as she will need some sort of technique for reading unknown words and it will definitely help. I think the summer is an ideal time to tackle it - if the school offer extra help in the autumn as well then brilliant but I think you will have to try and do it yourself. A short burst every day shouldn't be too bad, perhaps if you make it after breakfast in the morning for 10-15 minutes and then forget it for the rest of the day.

with regards to dyslexia - might be worth investigating if you think it is a problem as if she was diagnosed then she would be entitled to extra time in some exams etc but at the end of the day she will have to learn coping mechanisms to deal with it if she does have it as there is no cure for it so I am tending to take the approach that we just have to try our best to help our daughter learn ways to work with her problem and if school join in and help then great but if they don't then we will help her ourselves and she just has to accept it is part of her life.

mrz Tue 23-Jul-13 17:32:15
PhoenixUprising Tue 23-Jul-13 17:43:39

There's always been a spelling test, but didn't it use to count for a smaller % of the writing grade then it does now with SPaG being separated out?

Wasn't it something like 7% of your writing grade before?

And now is 40% of your SPaG grade?

mrz Tue 23-Jul-13 17:58:59

Spelling was equal to 28% of the SPAG mark which is only a fraction of the English mark

sheridand Tue 23-Jul-13 20:43:41

My dd has never had a need for phonics. She is 5 now ( a Summer baby) and is a confident reader. She is capable of reading far above her expected levels. BUT: and it's a big one, she does this through sight, word recognition, and using the other words in a sentence top figure the probable word out. This is clever. She's very fluent, but she will struggle later on if she doesn't kick back and recognise all the phonemes. DS, who is far more pliable, also read her way6, but sat and learnt the phonemes anyway, and as a result he is excellent at spelling. He doesn't use them to read, unless it's a very unfamiliar word, and even then he uses inference and other strategies first, but he can use it, and does use it, for spelling. He was a free reader by the end of Year 1. DD looks headed the same way, but unless he starts to listen and use phonics as well, her spelling will suffer. Her "phonetically plausible" spellings are already less so than his at the end of Reception.

partystress Tue 23-Jul-13 20:50:43

Ooh mrz, have they said now how the English level is going to be calculated? Wasn't expecting any news until Sept...

mrz Tue 23-Jul-13 22:34:53

They are still making it up as they go along

mrz Tue 23-Jul-13 22:36:45

"At the NCTL 'Seizing Success' conference on 13 June, the Secretary of State spoke about schools’ ongoing assessment under the new national curriculum, in advance of the consultation on primary assessment and accountability.

*As part of our reforms to the national curriculum , the current system of ‘levels’ used to report children’s attainment and progress will be removed. It will not be replaced.*"

bryte Thu 25-Jul-13 16:44:12

Thanks everyone for your responses and sharing your advice, recommendations and opinions. Gleegeek - I may contact you when I get back from holiday in a few weeks. Perhaps we can share ideas and resources if we're going to work with our DC before they start back at school in September.

englishteacher78 Thu 25-Jul-13 16:50:57

It may be because I'm a secondary teacher but I don't get this phonics as cure all thing. English isn't a phonetic language so how does breaking words into sounds which may change in different words help? This is a genuine question by the way, not being horrible.

PandaNot Thu 25-Jul-13 16:59:44

English is a 'phonetic' language but as you've said there are many different ways to write the sounds. Phonics works beautifully for reading because its relatively easy to remember the code to read an unfamiliar word. For spelling there still has to be some element of remembering what the word looks like so that you can choose the correct grapheme. My ds 9 is phonically a good speller but rubbish at actually choosing the correct grapheme. My dd 5 is much better because she can mentally imagine what the word looks like when she is reading and then can write it down.

Feenie Thu 25-Jul-13 17:42:09

There isn't going to be an English test level at all this year (probably because they did definitely make it up as they went along last year grin)

1. Each teacher only cares about your child for 12 months. They always say 'don't worry, it'll resolve itself next year' - because they have no interest at all in next year.

I resent that, actually - quite aside from the fact that it isn't true for most teachers simply because they do care, some teachers are managers/coordinators who are responsible for each and every child in the school.

mrz Thu 25-Jul-13 18:24:36

I'm a bit worried that an "englishteacher" should think that a language isn't phonetic shock it's complex because we have 44 sounds (depending on accent) but only 26 letters

Feenie Thu 25-Jul-13 18:43:35

Yes - kind of confirms the previous post about teachers not having a clue how to teach spelling confused

PhoenixUprising Thu 25-Jul-13 19:13:16

1. Each teacher only cares about your child for 12 months. They always say 'don't worry, it'll resolve itself next year' - because they have no interest at all in next year.

On reflection maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they don't say 'don't worry' because they don't care - maybe teachers say it through sheer ignorance.

Maybe they really believe that if children learn a weekly spelling list and read every night and grow up their spelling will be OK.

Feenie Thu 25-Jul-13 19:20:33

But that isn't 'each teacher', is it?

GetStuffezd Thu 25-Jul-13 19:27:55

Phoenix, many teachers still give out weekly spelling lists and call that "teaching spelling" because if they didn't, parents would complain. I don't give out lists and I don't do tests, but I do a good job teaching spelling.

Also resent the not caring about future years comment.

mrz Thu 25-Jul-13 19:38:32

the problem is many parents think the weekly spelling lists is teaching spelling

PhoenixUprising Thu 25-Jul-13 20:12:46

OK, not each teacher. I have no idea how many. Somewhere between 'some' and 'many'.

And certainly many, many, parents are ignorant about how spelling should be taught - but there is no reason why they should know how to teach spelling.

I have no sympathy for teachers who do things they don't believe in 'because parent's demand it'. Why can't they educate the parents? What would happen if the parents disagreed with them?

If you know you're doing the right thing you should stick to it.

I do however know that the individual teacher doesn't generally decide how to teach spelling or whether or not to send home spelling lists - that's the decision of the literacy co-ordinator or someone like that.

And I do have sympathy for teachers who know they are doing the wrong thing but know that their SLT won't back them up if they do the right thing.

PhoenixUprising Thu 25-Jul-13 20:21:17

GetSutffezd - how do you teach spelling?

How do you get spellings from children's short term memory to their long term memory?

What % of children will leave your class 'good spellers'?

And if it's not 100% - what happens to those children who don't leave your class as good spellers?

Do you ever expect them to become good spellers?

mrz Thu 25-Jul-13 20:36:59

Teaching children to spell is a whole school task that begins in reception but is a continual process that doesn't end with any particular teacher. As an adult I don't confess toknow how to spell every single word so you could say I'm still learning

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now