In Harmony Hill we identified a need for a new approach to teaching spelling. We are a large Primary school with six hundred and fifty pupils and were keen to access a whole school programme which was structured and consistent. In our roles as heads of Key Stages and Literacy Co-ordinators we consulted with all staff in year groups and key stages. Our audit on current practice identified a need for a change.
We reviewed a number of spelling programmes and felt that ‘The Complete Spelling Programme’ was best in meeting our needs.
We introduced The Complete Spelling programme to all classes from Primary two to Primary seven. The programme supports connections between phonological awareness, early reading and writing. It has complete coverage of high frequency words and word patterns. Activities include the meanings of words and putting words into context. The programme also covers language rules and words which are useful for different forms of writing. It links spelling to sentence construction which classes are ultimately able to transfer to independent writing.
Feedback from teachers, learning support assistants, parents and pupils has been very positive. We would recommend this programme.
We have been monitoring the programme as it has been embedded into our daily teaching and learning. Children are more readily able to transfer their phonics skills to reading and writing activities. Children’s knowledge and understanding of high frequency words and word patterns has improved. There is a reduction in the identified gaps between spelling, sentence construction and independent writing. The more active teaching approaches implicit in the new spelling programme have resulted in better retention of words, word patterns and language usage. Teachers have reported an improvement in children’s confidence and anxiety has decreased in independent writing. The children have better developed skills in the use of language sources e.g. dictionaries and thesauri. Parents have also voiced positive responses to the new scheme. Spelling /literacy skills are being explicitly taught as opposed to words being introduced in school and the majority of practice/teaching taking place at home by parents.
As literacy coordinators we are pleased to see spelling having stronger links with reading and grammar. We also feel that this programme has appropriate progression, ensuring fewer gaps.
We are glad that we took the decision to invest in ‘The Complete Spelling Programme’.
Mrs. Sharon Bell:
Head of Key Stage Two and Literacy Co-ordinator
Mrs. Pamela Muir:
Head of Foundation Stage and Literacy Co-ordinator Harmony Hill Primary School, Lisburn
We first used The Complete Spelling Programme in a large school (440 pupils). Spelling was a key focus on our School Development Plan/Literacy Action Plan and an area we were aware from our quantative and qualitative data, in which many children were underachieving. Staff also felt that progression was weak and there were many “overlaps” at year group level. Also teachers were sourcing spellings from varying resources.
Having heard of ‘The Complete Spelling Programme’ I attended several seminars on it. I spoke to the authors who developed and wrote the programme and then brought back an overview of the programme to the staff.
The staff were impressed with the overview and agreed to implement it, ultimately to improve the children’s capability to spell. We saw the benefits as:-
§ Whole class teaching approach for one programme – extension approach to differentiation
§ Visual/phonological approach
§ Progression from Year to Year
§ Teacher resource “user” friendly, compact and easy to understand / follow
§ Daily routine given
§ Curriculum word banks linked to N.I. Curriculum
§ Spelling lists all given on a weekly basis
§ Average group list given – easily amended for “below / above” average groups
§ Workbooks for children with a range of activities are differentiated and a fun way to learn spellings
§ Dictation very helpful
§ Frequency words excellent for independent writing
§ Children enjoyed spellings and more motivated
§ Parents interest grew
When I moved as Principal to another school with 190 pupils again spelling was an area which our quantitative and qualitative data showed was an area in which we needed to focus. At the end of the Year 2009/10 39% of our children ( 42 out of 107 children - Yr 4 – 7) were underachieving in relation to NRIT score, albeit some were minimal. We used this as our baseline.
We are undertaking a self evaluation in spelling using the ETI indicators from ‘Together Towards Improvement’. After discussion with staff last year and an input from our Literacy coordinator on the Complete Spelling Programme we decided to implement The Complete Spelling Programme from September this year.
The feedback already is very positive. The teachers’ feedback is as in the bullet points above.
Added to this is the positive feedback from parents.
L. Logan (Principal)
Lisbellaw Primary School
These are tough times financially and all schools are keen to get value for money in each purchase they make. I ordered this spelling scheme but really I ended up buying a superb language programme for the entire school. The Complete Spelling Programme does what it says on the tin! It is based on sound research evidence. The programme puts spellings in context through excellent follow up activities and each level builds on the rhyming patterns and high frequency words used in the level(s) before. Children really enjoy this scheme, the follow up activities are visually appealing and are well differentiated. Our P.2. kids love the worksheets!! I wouldn't just recommend schools to buy it I would urge them to buy it!!
Termoncanice Primary School (650 pupils), Limavady
duced in school and the majority of practice/
The Complete Spelling Programme is an excellent scheme that is easy to use by both teacher and pupil alike. It allows all children, within the same class, to work on the same list of words, catering for the weaker children to learn fewer words while stretching the more able pupils with more challenging ones. Calling spellings for various groups couldn’t be easier. The accompanying activity books, differentiated according to ability, allow for a more in-depth study of the words, thus reinforcing the spelling and developing a wide vocabulary for the children to use in their writing activities. We have noticed a definite improvement in general spelling in all writing activities since using this scheme.
A great tool with great results!
Woodlawn Primary School, Carrickfergus