Pathways to Spell

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Pathways to Spell is an innovative and engaging programme to fascinate pupils about words. It is a research-based series of lessons following a Review, Explain, Practise, Apply and Reflect model. Through this programme, we aim to develop a school of spellers who use a series of strategies in lessons and in their independent writing. Unlike other spelling programmes, there is a cycle of review objectives covering the whole curriculum to ensure gaps in learning are constantly revisited. 

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The Pathways to Spell programme has been designed based on extensive research (Hewett, 2019 & Martin, 2014) into how children learn to become proficient spellers and on guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF, 2018) on promoting metacognition and self-regulation. They have found that most effective learners can self-regulate and organise their own approach to learning. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and have well-developed metacognitive strategies that help them to learn.


In order to facilitate effective learning, pupils will be taught to spell in a number of ways:

- Developmental approach – pupils moving from a focus on phonics and knowledge of GPCs
through to patterns and the look of a word at a pace appropriate to their age

- Generalisation approach – if you know how to spell cat and bat you can have a go at hat and

- Rote-visual memorisation e.g. look/say/cover/write/check.


In this way, pupils will develop key knowledge about words and the way in which the English language is made up.

Phonemic knowledge – the understanding of sounds and grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) to represent words

Orthographic knowledge – the letters or groups of letters that are used to represent words including the look of a word, letter shapes and the order

Morphological knowledge – the meaning of the word or the meaning of each component in a word. A morpheme being the smallest unit of meaning in a word

Etymological awareness – the origins of words and their meanings e.g. knowledge that chef is a word which is French in origin helps you to learn to spell it with ch rather than sh


The following principles guide the Pathways to Spell approach to teaching spelling:

  • We are determined that children become excited and fascinated by words through investigation of patterns and links between words
  • Spoken language underpins all the lessons – talk, exploration, play, hypothesising and experimenting is the foundation of the programme
  • Collaborative learning is valued and encouraged
  • As children learn to spell in different ways, the programme ensures that pupils have the opportunity to learn through a repertoire of multi-sensory approaches
  • Repetition of rules and patterns year on year is key to developing spelling knowledge in the long-term memory, with key elements reviewed each week
  • Lessons include support and challenge for the range of learners in every class
  • Developing a spelling environment in the classroom supports learners and raises the profile of spelling when pupils are writing
  • Application of knowledge beyond the spelling lesson is a vital component that needs to be
    embedded across school

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St Luke's Catholic Primary School

The Willows, Frodsham, Cheshire, WA6 7QP

Miss Eileen Murtagh

Tel: 01244 259999


St Luke's Catholic Primary School

The Willows, Frodsham, Cheshire, WA6 7QP

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