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Spelling as a memory game

"Teaching spelling is about repetition, repetition, repetition," said Lisa Higgs, a teacher at St David's school, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire.

More than four out of five pupils at the 307-pupil school achieved the expected level 4 in the English test last year.

Miss Higgs, who taught Year 6, said the 2003 spelling test was difficult but fair.

The test asked 11-year-olds to spell words ranging from together to thoroughly. It found the pupils who had the most difficulty tended to be over-reliant on matching sounds to letters. For example they would spell "rehearsed" as "rehearst".

Miss Higgs said: "Learning spelling is a gradual thing. You do see children become more confident over the year.

"I play a lot of word games with the children. I say a word and they have to write it on their individual white boards and then hold it up. They learn instantly whether they have spelled it correctly or not. If they get it right they earn a point for their team. They like the participation," she said.

"The other thing that works well is to give pupils a passage to learn and at the end of the week choose words from the passage, so they learn them in context.

"A lot of English is not phonetic. You just have to memorise it," said Miss Higgs.

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