Teaching spelling: it takes a village
![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/bf6a1c3d-4fc1-4788-b603-e7678832ac13/54a797ec-0f45-462d-af25-74f9f6d99068Spellingittakesavillage.jpg "Teaching spelling") Teaching spelling is definitely in an English teacher’s remit. That’s a given. The subject of spelling is often seen ‘to be dealt with’ by English departments; it’s learning words from the English language and therefore should be taught, corrected and assessed by English specialists, right? But consider, for a moment, the following four points: 1. The word ‘spelling’ is mentioned 7 times in the main body of the [National Curriculum for key stages three and four](https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/381754/SECONDARY_national_curriculum.pdf). Six of those mentions come under the programme of study for English, and the final mention comes under modern foreign languages. Despite this seemingly lack of emphasis on spelling, 5% of the total marks in the GCSE Geography, History and Religious Studies’ papers are reliant on the success of spelling and grammar as well as the obvious in English Language and Literature. 2. There are [171,476 words in the English dictionary](https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/how-many-words-are-there-in-the-english-language/) - as an English teacher, I definitely don’t know how to spell all of them. I do have specialist knowledge of spelling patterns, meaning I may take the edge in a spelling competition with other teachers from other subjects. But if spelling is measured in subjects like geography and I was tested on specialist language from geography against a geography teacher, I don’t fancy my chances: ‘appalachian’ anyone? 3. [The Teachers’ Standards, as published by the government](https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/665520/Teachers__Standards.pdf), includes: “...demonstrate an understanding of and take responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of standard English, whatever the teacher’s specialist subject.” 4. [1 in 6 adults (16.4% / 7.1 million people) adults in England have very poor literacy skills.](http://www.oecd.org/education/skills-beyond-school/building-skills-for-all-review-of-england.pdf) A lack of literacy skills holds a person back for their whole lives. As a child they will struggle in school, as a young adult they will struggle to get a job and as a parent they will struggle to help their child achieve. A compartmentalised approach to the curriculum is not an approach that is conducive for a ‘mastery’ curriculum. It really does take a village to teach spelling: if all teachers of all subjects help with literacy skills, it can only lead to good things. The above reasons are why Learning by Questions mark for spelling, regardless of subject. Pupils will find that if they spell a word incorrectly, despite the answer being correct, the answer will be marked incorrectly. The notice of ‘incorrect’ will always be accompanied by a hint that helps the student correctly answer the next time. Whilst the incorrect marking of a spelling in, for example, science, may seem unnecessary and potentially harsh, the approach does ensure that literacy skills are addressed by the platform at all times, in all subjects - helping to improve the literacy skills of students regardless of the subject they use LbQ for.