Spelling and Vocabulary Development


We aim for:

  • Children to become confident, independent spellers using a range of skills and strategies.
  • Children to have an interest in words and their meanings (dictionary work including etymology)
  • Children to have a growing vocabulary, allowing them greater access to the wider curriculum and greater life chances
  • Children to use spelling skills and enhanced vocabulary in many areas of the curriculum
  • Children to have the ability to use prefixes and suffixes to alter word meanings (morphology)

Vocabulary is a strong indicator of reading success (National Literacy Trust, 2017). We know from research that the size of a child’s vocabulary is the best predictor of success in future tests, academic success and life chances. Children with a poor vocabulary at five are four times more likely to struggle with reading in adulthood (Why Closing the Word Gap Matters: Oxford Language Report, 2018). We also know that a good understanding of a wide range of vocabulary supports success across the whole national curriculum. Therefore pupils are regularly taught new vocabulary in all areas of the curriculum.

The ability to spell is crucial to children’s quick transcription in writing. If children have to be thinking hard about their spellings, they have less room to be able to focus on the content of the work. We teach children to be resilient towards spelling, recognising that they will not always know how to spell something, but that they should care about checking and using the tools and strategies that they’ve been taught to make accurate attempts, and to edit and correct.


In the Foundation Stage the skills of listening, attention, understanding and speaking are encompassed in the prime area of Communication and Language and are fundamental to allow children to be successful in all other learning.   Children begin the ‘Read Write Inc’ programme, which is rigorous system, learning the letter sounds and their formation, and they begin to spell basic words. Regular assessment ensures that children get the intervention they need if they are not progressing in line with the majority of the class. This is in the form of daily 1:1 intervention.

Through Key Stage 1, ‘ Read Write Inc’ continues to be the approach approach to learning centred around letter sounds and phonics; blending sounds together to read and write words, and using these learnt sounds to support with reading, spelling, vocabulary and writing. 

  • Children are able to develop vocabulary, language comprehension, and love of reading through stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction Children are familiar with, and enjoy listening to a wide range of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction.  
  • Children in EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2 follow the Read Write Inc. programme at Hayward's.
  • All staff have clear expectations of pupils’ phonics progress term by term, from Reception to Year 2. 
  • There is a catch up programme for children in Year 3 and Year 4 following the Read, Write Inc. programme and in Year 5 and Year 6, using Nessy Learning.
  • Ongoing assessment of pupils’ phonics progress is sufficiently frequent and detailed to identify any pupil who is falling behind the programme’s pace. If they do fall behind, targeted support is given immediately. 
  • All children, who require it, benefit from 1:1 tutoring at least three times a week in EYFS (starting in November) and in Year 1.

In Key Stage 2, those that need it continue to receive the phonics support as listed above. From Year 2 and into Key Stage 2, we follow the National Curriculum for spelling program. However, we have broken down the spelling rules/objectives into year groups, as opposed to phases.  Spelling Progression at Hayward's

Teachers teach spellings in short sessions. This may vary depending on timetable but amounts to at least an hour of teaching across a fortnightly period. All blocks of spelling begin with a “Word Sort” where children have a new set of words to look at and “open sort” them according to however they think; there is no wrong or right to this. Teachers use this opportunity to include words previously taught and make links to other knowledge. The rest of the sequence will then follow the principles of Word Study:

First session (longer - may replace an English session):

First session: Children investigate - a word sort activity. Observing and questioning / what if questions.

Subsequent sessions are a combination of:

Teaching, explaining, modelling thinking - to make connections, sharing, games, discussion, defining, practising.

Spelling is also taught as part of English blocks with a focus on

  • Learn how to “have a go” at the point of writing
  • Learn how to “use what you know” at the point of writing
  • Learn how to proofread and correct

The statutory words set by the National Curriculum have been split across the 6 half terms in each year group and children are set 8-10 words to learn at home per half term. As part of this, we also encourage “word study” so that the children are developing their understanding of the words, not just learning to spell them. Whole School Spelling List Teachers assess the children on these words at the end of each half term.


Vocabulary development is organised into two strands: Creating a Language Rich Environment and through Direct Instruction.

We begin creating a love of words and our language through daily story telling. EYFS children take home a library book for their parent or carer to read to them, and the children are encouraged to bring in “exciting” words for discussion. An exciting word wall is then made, creating a buzz and energy around learning words. This is then continued as each EYFS cohort moves through the school.

All staff model high levels of vocabulary, starting in EYFS. A list of “Everyday Vocabulary” has been drawn up based on research and these words are used with the children regularly so they gain an understanding of key everyday language of a higher level. 

Children across the school learn words through all subjects. Every block of work in every subject has Tier 3 vocabulary identified that will be taught as part of their learning and is essential to the children’s understanding of the concepts.  Subject Specific Vocabulary (Whole School List) These words we call SHOW words, as they are the words that children use to SHOW OFF their knowledge of a subject.

We have chosen to use our Challenge Curriculum as the vehicle to develop children’s Tier 2 Vocabulary. We call these GROW words as they will help build children’s vocabulary. They are taught through the Topic, but they are multi-functioning or multi-meaning words that children will then be able to apply across the rest of their curriculum and their lives. The words have been carefully selected alongside a Literary Specialist after extensive research. Teachers directly teach these words as part of Topic sessions. As the year progresses and as children move up through the school, the GROW words will become KNOW words for the children. Children practise their understanding of the words through games such as Articulate and through Vocabulary Clue Cards. Challenge Curriculum Vocabulary  

English lessons and discrete reading sessions also have a vocabulary focus through the selection of texts and through Direct Teaching. In particular, in reading sessions children will be taught how to clarify word meanings using the context of a sentence. Studies of morphology, which also take place in spelling sessions, enable children to develop an understanding of different word origins and this too supports the clarification process. Children study the use of writer’s vocabulary and its effect and use words in their own writing. When planning a block of English, teachers identify GROW words for the children to learn and use in their writing or use to show their understanding of themes within the block. They are also taught how to use dictionaries to find word meanings.


RWI assessments take place on a 3 weekly basis focussing primarily on if children can read words. The children’s ability to spell these words is assessed through their application in writing and some tests. Spelling in Key Stage 2 is predominantly assessed through children’s ability to apply their spelling knowledge into their writing. At the end of each term, teachers assess their children on words taught that term through a test of selected words.

Home Learning spellings are tested each half term.

Vocabulary development is not formally assessed. On-going assessment occurs and teachers will adapt their planning accordingly to ensure that children know the words that they are expected to know. At the end of Topics, children are asked to use the 6-8 GROW words taught through the Topic to assess whether they know them yet.


All children will bring home spellings to learn (EYFS it will be words to sight read, not spell)

  • The government have provided expectations of spellings that children should know in each phase (Y1, Y2 and Y3 and Y4 and Y5 and Y6).
  • The word lists have been split into 6 half terms (4 in year 6) over the two years
  • Children will have one half term to learn 8-10 words
  • This approach is based on research that frequent testing does not help embed spellings
  • We will “quiz” on their progress every week.
  • Children can tackle this in a range of ways – drawing on strategies that they will have been shown in school..
  • No book or evidence needed.
  • To develop vocabulary, children are asked to complete a range of activities:
  • Explore word families: pick a word from the list. Can you change the word at all by adding/removing a prefix or suffix? Does it impact on the spelling of the word – use a dictionary to help. How many words can you think of related to the word? E.g. friend = friendly, unfriendly, friendship, friends, friendlier.
  • How many times can you use one of the words from your list in a day? Try to shoe-horn it into conversations with adults in school – do they notice?
  • Synonyms and Antonyms – write the word in the centre of a page. All around it, can you think of words that are similar in meaning? What about words that are opposite in meaning?
  • Handwriting and Fonts: Look at some different fonts. Pick a font that you like. Using a pen, write the spelling list out as accurately as you can in that font.
  • Matching: Write the words out down one side of a page. Write a definition on the other side of the page. Give to a friend to match up.
  • Create a colourful dictionary for your word list – write or type the words out and write their meaning(s) underneath.