This year’s Sats spelling test was harder than in 2016, according to figures obtained by teaching magazine and website, Tes. So how can we help pupils keep up with the levels now expected of them?
Pupils taking the spelling section of this year’s Year 6 Sats spag test found the questions harder than their counterparts in 2016, according to an article written by Tes’s Helen Ward. If you or your child struggle with spellings, don’t panic! Our tutors are here to help.
Learning English is certainly no walk in the park thanks to our language’s many irregularities. The English language comprises words with origins from across the globe, which have evolved and adapted through the years with many peculiar variations along the way.
English may be complicated but, on the whole, there is method to the madness, and children can be taught strategies for reading and spelling the majority of words while understanding that some words (tricky words) simply need to be remembered.
The government now favours ‘synthetic phonics’ for teaching primary school children to spell. The method teaches children how spoken words are composed of sounds called ‘phonemes’ (e.g. “sh” or “oo”), and how the letters in words correspond to these phonemes. To spell a word, children are instructed to identify all the phonemes in a word and use these to spell out or ‘make’ the word. Irregular words are referred to as ‘tricky words’, ‘sight words’ or ‘camera words’ because children are taught that they do not follow the usual rules but need to be remembered by sight, like a photo.
The Department for Education had been concerned that many children weren’t achieving a firm foundation in grammar, punctuation and spelling by the end of Key Stage 2. The English grammar, punctuation and spelling test, and the focus on phonics, was designed to address this – although opponents, including the former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, have argued that tests and phonics-intensive teaching may backfire by reducing children’s enjoyment of reading.
Fun with spellings at any age
Home-School Tutoring’s literacy tutors understand that, while targets need to be met, learning should always be enjoyable, and learning to spell is no different. Our teachers make sure that the phonics approach to reading and spelling is still enjoyable by having fun with nonsense words and making sure pupils never feel pressured.
As well as helping many primary-school children improve their spelling, Home-School Tutoring has worked with many secondary-school pupils who have asked for support with spelling and other writing difficulties prior to GCSEs and A Levels, as well as many adults who have not been confident about their spelling and literacy skills.
Our literacy tutors have also worked with children and adults of all ages with dyslexia who have required additional support in learning to spell.
Margaret Sweetland, Director of Home-School Tutoring, says: “Our home tutors have helped pupils of all ages who’ve needed some extra one-to-one attention to master spelling.”
Home-School Tutoring’s Area Advisors are happy to advise parents considering home tutoring, and can match pupils with a literacy or English tutor based near them. Parents can find contact details for their local Area Advisor via our Locations page.
Teachers and specialists interested in joining Home-School Tutoring as a literacy or English tutor can find more information by visiting Become a Tutor.