[Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1989-1, pp32,33 later designated J10]
[Chris Upward: see Journals, Newsletters, Leaflets, Media, Pamflet 15, Book, Papers.]

References to Spelling in ENGLISH for ages 5 to 11.

Chris Upward

In November 1988 the Rt Hon Kenneth Baker MP, Secretary of State for Education & Science in the British government published the proposals of the National Curriculum English Working Group under the above title. They were elaborated under the chairmanship of Brian Cox, Professor of English at the University of Manchester, following the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of English Language (Kingman Committee). The Society's submission to Kingman may be found in Journal 1987/3, J6 pp8-12, its comments on the Kingman Report in Journal 1988/2, J8 pp21-23, and its submission to the National Curriculum English Working Group in Journal 1988/3, J9 pp23-26. ENGLISH for ages 5 to 11 is some 90 pages in length and contains the following points of relevance to English spelling. The excerpts are numbered according to the paragraphs from which they are taken in the report. The next issue of the Journal will offer some comments.
Proposals of the Secretaries of State (this first section, with its appendix, precedes the report proper - Ed.)

4. Standard English. It is a ... responsibility ... to develop (children's) capability to understand written ... Standard English ... The objectives should be to ensure ... pupils ... are equipped for ... life and employment by being able to write formal Standard English.
9. Programmes of study should ... give greater emphasis to ... grammatical structure and terminology...
Appendix: Summary of attainment targets.
Writing Attainment target II: Spelling.

1. Introduction.
1.8 - ...writing - 3 attainment targets: ... ability to construct and convey meaning; spelling; and handwriting.

3. English in the National Curriculum.
English and other languages
3.10 The curriculum should ... have in mind education in the European context, with reference both to ... English as an international language, and ... intercultural contact...
The aims of the English curriculum
3.12 The overriding aim of the English curriculum is to enable all pupils to develop to the full their ability to use and understand English.
The role of English in the curriculum
3.21 English is different.... in that it is both a subject and a medium of instruction for other subjects.

4. Standard English. Teaching policy
4.18 It can only be confusing to a child if features of dialect are "corrected" at the same time and in the same way as ... spelling errors. The latter may be due to genuine carelessness, or to a principle which has not been grasped, but dialect features are not errors in the same sense...
4.19 ... a gradual policy on the use of standard forms. When children are learning to write, they have many different things to attend to: physical aspects of handwriting, spelling, layout, sentence construction, etc.

5. Linguistic terminology.
Examples of classroom practice Extract 4
"Why couldn't (zyghpzgh) be a word? ....... Ain't got any vowels!" "...Actually, unfortunately, why is sometimes y a sort of -" "Because i and y are sort of the same letters..."
Teacher's comments
Rules is a word ... children are used to. When we talk about spelling they are made aware that there are conventions of written language. However, we also kept a note of "silly spellings", ie those that broke the rules eg ocean, and ... where words that looked the same sounded differently eg tough, cough, bough. They quickly realised that learning sound-symbol rules was not enough.
Linguistic terminology & writing development
5.20 ... the diffusion of coherent knowledge about language is an important aim of the English curriculum.
5.30 The structure of language means not only grammar ... but also phonology, graphology... Terms may therefore refer to different aspects of language structure:
• the sounds of English (pronunciation or accent);
• the spelling and writing system of English;
5.32 We do not ... specify lists of terms and concepts which should be taught ... It is the responsibility of teachers ... to decide on and introduce terms ... However, we ... stress ... that ... terms should not be restricted to those for parts of speech, but should allow discussion of other aspects of language ... some examples are...
• The sounds ... : pronunciation ... consonant, vowel, syllable, elision, assimilation, alliteration.. rhyme...
• The spelling and writing system of English: letter, capital letters, punctuation ... apostrophe, etc.
• Words: loan word, prefix, word ending, word structure, Latinate word ... lexical and grammatical words...
5.51 ... if distinctions are not ... maintained between sounds ... and letters, it becomes impossible to say...
"English has five vowel letters, but ... spoken British English has around 24 significant vowel sounds."
"The word thin begins with a single consonant phoneme represented by two consonant letters. The word box ends with a single consonant letter which represents two consonant sounds /ks/. The word locks ends in three letters which represent they same two sounds."
"...if a grammatical word and a lexical word sound the same, the grammatical word tends to have the shorter spelling: eg for, four; by, buy; in, inn; to, two; 1, eye; etc."
5.53 ... teachers of English and ... languages... should meet and discuss what framework of description and which terms they propose to use... This might... be in the context of a marking policy for children's writing.

8. Speaking and listening.
8.3 In Better Schools (1985) the government drew attention to the need to promote ... oral skills: "...there is over-concentration on practising skills in literacy..."

9. Reading
9.7 ... (children) need to be able to recognise on sight a large proportion of the words they encounter and ... predict meaning on the basis of phonic, idiomatic and grammatical regularities and ... what makes sense in context; children should be encouraged to make informed guesses.
Attainment target I: Pupils should be able to
Level 1 - Recognise that print conveys meaning.
Level 1 - Show a developing sight vocabulary...
Attainment target II:
Level 2 - Demonstrate knowledge of the alphabet and its application (eg in ... dictionaries and reference books).
Level 4 - Make effective use of alphabetical order, a list of contents, an index and keys ... of abbreviations in appropriate reference books.
Programme of study: age 5 to 7
9.15 ... phonic ... awareness. In due course ... skills in the use of alphabetical order in a word book.
9.21 ... (the teacher's structured observation) ... could include ... miscue analysis... Miscue analysis entails record and evaluation of children's 'errors' when reading aloud from texts ... not well known to them and ... not at their reading frustration level... Miscues should be marked ... with 'positive' ... distinguished from 'negative' errors.

10. Writing 10.2 ... it is possible now for word processors with spelling checkers to take over some of the proof-reading aspects of writing and to produce impeccable print-out.
10.3 Attainment targets and programmes of study must therefore cover both these aspects of writing, called ...'composing' and 'secretarial'. The ... secretarial aspect should not ... predominate ... while the more complex aspects of composition are ignored. It is evident that a child may be a poor speller, but write well-structured and interesting stories; or be a good speller, but write badly ...
10.6 ... it is ... appropriate to demand ... correct spelling ... in work which has a public purpose ... this may be less appropriate for work with essentially private purposes.
10.8 A measure of tolerance of errors ... is essential...
10.12 ... (children's) early attempts ... consist of strings of letters with words represented by the initial letter or by clusters of consonants. Children's early ... spellings often demonstrate logical consistency; this ... should be recognised as an initial achievement and children should be helped to be confident in attempting to spell words for themselves.
Attainment targets
10.17 ... two attainment targets are secretarial... They concern the pupil's competence in spelling and handwriting.
Attainment target II: spelling
... children's increasing control not simply over ... correct spelling... but also over the most frequent sound-letter correspondences and the other principles of English spelling. Despite the ... irregularities ... it is important that teaching and assessing focus on ... areas that are systematic.
10.22 Beyond level 5, pupils should be making errors only in relatively infrequent words, which do not obey one of the main patterns of the system; eg loan words.
Pupils should be able to
Level 1- Begin to ... understand ... the difference between drawing and writing, and/or numbers and letters.
Level 2 - Produce meaningful and recognisable (though not necessarily always correct) spellings of a range of common sight words.
- Spell correctly monosyllabic words which observe common patterns.
- Use these principles also to attempt the spelling of a wider range of words.
- Show knowledge of the names and order of the letters of the alphabet.
Level 3 - Attempt to spell less frequent words with increasing confidence.
- Spell correctly frequent polysyllabic words which observe common patterns.
- Recognise and use spelling patterns for vowel sounds and common letter strings of increasing complexity.
- Show a growing awareness of word families.
Level 4 Spell correctly words which display the other main patterns ... including the main prefixes and suffixes.
Level 5 Spell correctly words of increasing complexity, including words with inflectional suffixes, (eg -ed, -ing) consonant doubling, etc; and words where the spelling highlights semantic relationships (eg sign, signature).
Programme of study 5 to 7
10.29 ... (children) ... should begin to learn the most frequent spelling patterns of the consonant sounds and short vowel sounds ... teachers should pay ... attention to words that occur ... frequently, to those ... of importance to children ... and to those that exemplify ... patterns. Children should learn the names of the letters and the order of the alphabet ... they should not become so ... anxious about... spelling that they fear to experiment with new words.
Programme of study 8 to 11
10.33 Children should...
- pay attention to the shape of words so that they gradually master the spelling of frequently-occurring words of one and two syllables. They should learn how complex words are built up by the addition of prefixes and suffixes to roots. At the proof-reading stage, they should be encouraged to check difficult spellings in a dictionary;
- team about the history of writing...
10.36 We do not believe that spelling or handwriting should be assessed through decontextualised tests... Weighting
10.41 While we recognise the importance of the secretarial skills of spelling and handwriting, we consider that our first ... attainment target ... should have a ... higher weighting than the other two ... we recommend:
• Attainment target I: a growing ability to construct and convey meaning in written language-70%;
• Attainment target II: spelling-20%;
• Attainment target III: handwriting-10%.
10.46 Schools should formulate marking guidelines... nese might establish:...
• the basis for pointing out technical errors, and the manner of their correction. ...

11. English in the primary schools of Wales.

11.4 The evidence suggests ... that there are no significant differences between the performance at 11 in English of pupils educated mainly through Welsh and other pupils ...

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