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Our approach to the teaching of Spelling and Handwriting Milefield Primary school

Every class focuses on the key skills involved in spelling. We start in EYFS with the basic skills of phonetic awareness and phoneme/grapheme correspondence. Children are taught how to read and spell words using sounds (phonemes) and then the letters (graphemes) which represent these sounds.

In KS1, these foundations are built upon with further practice and use of alien words in phonics sessions to test children's understanding of key phonemes and graphemes. These words are nonsense words which can be read but do not exist. Children use their reading skills hand-in-hand with spelling as these skills help to unlock the skills required to spell words. High frequency words are learnt first in KS1 and children are shown how to de-code and break down words to assist them read unfamiliar words too. We also use Spelling Shed in class to support understanding of key words and spelling rules/patterns. Children are also given access to this at home.

In LKS2, children's phonetic awareness is built upon through further development of reading for purpose and locating key spelling patterns. Spelling patterns are taught discretely through the use of Spelling Shed in class/at home. Children are taught rules for spelling unfamiliar words and are expected to learn and know, by heart, the 200 High Frequency Words from KS1 and Y3/4 Spelling list. They are also expected to use these words in their extended pieces of writing, spelling correctly to score EXS in writing at Y4.

In UKS2, children are expected to use all High Frequency Words and Y3/4 spelling list words within their writing, spelled correctly. They then move onto learning Y5/6 spelling rules and patterns and key words from the list within the National Curriculum (See below). Children are shown how rules impact on the spelling for particular words they will know and learn more ambitious vocabulary each day/week. Children are then expected to use these effectively within their work. Key Topic words from Maths, Science, History, Geography, etc. are expected to be spelled correctly within all curriculum areas too.

Reading is taught alongside spelling as wider reading supports the understanding of the contexts in which spellings are used. Children are asked spelling questions during the teaching of reading and phonics throughout school.

Spelling lessons are taught daily through phonics/reading throughout school. The discrete teaching of spelling rules/patterns is taught alongside handwriting in the afternoon session. Teachers teach this at least twice per week. Some groups of pupils may receive small group interventions to help them bridge any gaps in knowledge from phonics to spelling patterns.

As a school, we use the Spelling Shed programme which also outlines the scheme of work for each year group and allows teachers to set 'assignments' so pupils can practice rules and patterns in interactive games either in school or at home. They all receive a login for the website and use this at their leisure at home. Some classes set weekly or half-termly homework so pupils can constantly practice the key skills required to spell accurately and consistently. Teachers may also create their own spelling lists for pupils who struggle or who are very able spellers.

Handwriting at Milefield Primary School

The process of handwriting starts in EYFS where they mark-make daily. Children are expected to begin by writing their names using a script suited to them. They are taught about appropriate pencil grip and shown how to move from grasping the pencil towards a pincer grip and then tripod grip. Pencil grips are used to assist children become comfortable with this process.

Mark making is set up daily in class so children may access writing implements. We also teach how to form letters using soft materials such as sand, paint, water and foam. This allows children to see the process of forming letters separately before they are expected to link them to make words.

Examples of work...

In EYFS, children take part in activities to develop their fine and gross motor-skills and recognition of patterns, for example, to form letters using their index finger in sand or using paint. Children should begin to learn how to correctly hold a pencil. This is the process for pencil grip with corresponding ages...

Then how to use a pencil, and hold it effectively to form recognisable letters most of which are correctly formed. They should be given the opportunities to develop their handwriting, and are taught the RWI letter formation.

Use these rhymes to support your child with letter formation.

In Year 1/2 pupils will be taught to begin to form letters in the pre-cursive style with every letter formed from the line. This will enable the transition to fully cursive joined writing in Year 2/3 to be smooth. In Y1/2, children use pre-cursive script (See below) which is shown by starting letters from the line then we follow a simple process with handy rhymes and routines to help children remember how to form each letter of the alphabet and numerals 0-9. Once children grasp this concept they begin to link letters to make words (See above for spelling teaching and phonics and early reading pages on our website for more information).

Pre-cursive font used in Y1-Y2

By the end of Key Stage 1 children will be able to write legibly, using upper and lower-case letters appropriately and correct spacing between words using a cursive style. Children must practice starting sentences and writing names using a capital letter and not joining the subsequent letter. This should be modelled by the teacher during Literacy lessons.

In Y2-Y6, children are taught to develop their script into a firm pencil grasp which allows for fluency when handwriting any work. We use a cursive script (See below) and this is shown in any printed work children will read as well as displays around school. This works alongside their spelling lessons and spellings are taught alongside handwriting patterns. This allows children, especially in KS2, to develop the flow and pattern in words and rarely spell them incorrectly.

Cursive font used in Y2-Y6

We use a scheme called Letter Join which is used in all classes from Reception - Year 6. We teach discrete handwriting lessons at least twice weekly and throughout Literacy, Maths and any lesson where handwriting is required. The expected standard for handwriting at Milefield is high and we aim for all pupils to improve their style year on year. See below for examples of some cursive script from pupils' work.

Letter Join

A fully interactive programme of study purchased by the school to ensure consistency throughout handwriting. All teachers have access to this programme and follow it from EYFS-Y6. It begins with pattern forming for pupils to learn the correct pencil grip and form certain shapes and patterns. These are then applied to individual letters and numbers. Children learn simple letters first (a,d,c,i,l,t) then numerals 0-9. They learn to start on the line in order to develop cursive script eventually.

Homepage of Letter Join...

Once they have mastered the simple letters, they move on to the more challenging letters (j,y,s,k,x,z). They practice these separately first then move on to words with letter strings. This is linked to phonics teaching too. Easy words are shown below, followed by harder words. Each word and letter has an animated sequence showing pupils how to form each letter and word.

Easy words
Hard words

All activities come with handy sheets to follow up in class. Also, children can receive a login to practice on a tablet version of the programme. These are sent home for pupils to conitnue to practice with parents in their own time.

Animation for pupils to see how to join letters

Expectations on pupils' handwriting is linked to the HCAT writing trackers in all year groups (See target 6).

Y4 Writing tracker

Credits:

Created with an image by NeONBRAND - "ready for notes"