Pathways to Spell
Pathways to Spell is an innovative and engaging programme to fascinate pupils about words. It is a research-based series of lessons following a Review, Explain, Practise, Apply and Reflect model. Through this programme, we aim to develop a school of spellers who use a series of strategies in lessons and in their independent writing. Unlike other spelling programmes, there is a cycle of review objectives covering the whole curriculum to ensure gaps in learning are constantly revisited.
The Pathways to Spell programme has been designed based on extensive research (Hewett, 2019 & Martin, 2014) into how children learn to become proficient spellers and on guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF, 2018) on promoting metacognition and self-regulation. They have found that most effective learners can self-regulate and organise their own approach to learning. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and have well-developed metacognitive strategies that help them to learn.
In order to facilitate effective learning, pupils will be taught to spell in a number of ways:
- Developmental approach – pupils moving from a focus on phonics and knowledge of GPCs
through to patterns and the look of a word at a pace appropriate to their age
- Generalisation approach – if you know how to spell cat and bat you can have a go at hat and
- Rote-visual memorisation e.g. look/say/cover/write/check.
In this way, pupils will develop key knowledge about words and the way in which the English language is made up.
Phonemic knowledge – the understanding of sounds and grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) to represent words
Orthographic knowledge – the letters or groups of letters that are used to represent words including the look of a word, letter shapes and the order
Morphological knowledge – the meaning of the word or the meaning of each component in a word. A morpheme being the smallest unit of meaning in a word
Etymological awareness – the origins of words and their meanings e.g. knowledge that chef is a word which is French in origin helps you to learn to spell it with ch rather than sh
The following principles guide the Pathways to Spell approach to teaching spelling:
- We are determined that children become excited and fascinated by words through investigation of patterns and links between words
- Spoken language underpins all the lessons – talk, exploration, play, hypothesising and experimenting is the foundation of the programme
- Collaborative learning is valued and encouraged
- As children learn to spell in different ways, the programme ensures that pupils have the opportunity to learn through a repertoire of multi-sensory approaches
- Repetition of rules and patterns year on year is key to developing spelling knowledge in the long-term memory, with key elements reviewed each week
- Lessons include support and challenge for the range of learners in every class
- Developing a spelling environment in the classroom supports learners and raises the profile of spelling when pupils are writing
- Application of knowledge beyond the spelling lesson is a vital component that needs to be
embedded across school