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Does a multi-sensory approach to phonics raise spelling competencies?

Does a multi-sensory approach to phonics raise spelling competencies?
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The felt need was highlighted in a Year Three class. Lower attaining children were unable to access higher level sounds in spelling. Due to moving into a Key Stage Two class, children were thought to have received sufficient phonics teaching regardless of their stage on the scheme. Discussions with pupils and colleagues identified that the current method was seen as ‘boring’ and ‘repetitive’. As a response to this need, a multi-sensory phonics teaching approach to learning spellings was undertaken. This method proved successful in increasing pupil engagement and increased spelling competencies on a Single Word Spelling Test.

In order to evaluate the intervention, several methods were used including semi structured interviews, observations and textual analysis. Baseline data was collected before the intervention through the use of a Single Word Spelling Test as is customary within the school to assess children’s spelling ability. The interviews highlighted children’s engagement with the new method whilst the observations showed children applying the strategies taught during the intervention.

The inquiry made a difference to me as I feel I have developed in confidence in my own ability. I have become more critical of initiatives within schools as often they are seen as a quick fix to a problem without in-depth analysis. As such I have engaged with research and theory and in professional debates with colleagues.

The intervention highlighted how a multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics engages pupils and can raise spelling competencies. The study made an impact within the school in that children will continue using the phonic teaching scheme when they move into a Junior class. More multi-sensory approaches will be undertaken with lower attaining pupils as I move through my career. However, to ensure greater reliability, it would be advantageous to carry out the study over a wider sample, for example, in more classes and more schools.

Additional Info

  • Author: Sarah Lane
  • Project originally written in: English
  • Project Reference: 8004