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Read Write Inc. Spelling

The National Curriculum that children follow in English primary schools places great emphasis on correct spelling and at the end of Year 6 every child sits a spelling test.

Learning to spell well is extremely useful if we want our children to become confident writers. If they are constantly stopping to think about how words are spelled while they write, it can interrupt the flow of their thoughts, taking them away from what we want them to be thinking about: their choice of words and how they construct those words into sentences that communicate exactly what they want to say. If  they are confident spellers, they are also much more likely to make adventurous vocabulary choices, selecting the exact word to communicate their message, rather than playing it safe and using a word they already know how to spell.

The National Curriculum requires children to learn to spell different words in different year groups. The following information shows what your child will be learning at school and also some ways that you can help your child to develop their spelling.

Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2)

In Year 1 pupils should be taught to:

  • Spell words containing each of the 40+ phonemes already taught
  • Spell common exception words (such as the and was)
  • Spell the days of the week
  • Name the letters of the alphabet
  • Add some prefixes (such as un) and suffixes (such as ing and ed) to word
In Year 2, children's knowledge of spelling is assessed by a teacher assessment of children's writing. There is also an optional grammar, punctuation and spelling test that schools can choose to use to help them make an assessment about children's understanding in these areas. In Year 2 pupils should be taught to:

  • Use knowledge of phonics to spell words correctly
  • Learn new ways of spelling phonemes for which one or more spellings are already known, and learn some words with each spelling, including a few common homophones (such as there/they're/their )
  • Spell common exception words (such as because)
  • Spell more words with contracted forms (such as it's)
  • Learn the possessive apostrophe (singular)
  • Add suffixes to spell longer words (including ment, and ly) 
Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6)

In Years 3 and 4, children  continue to develop their spelling. They learn the following spelling rules in Year 3 and Year 4:

  • Use further prefixes and suffixes and understand how to add them (such as dis and sure)
  • Spell further homophones (such as except/accept)
  • Spell words that are often misspelt
  • Use the possessive apostrophe accurately (plurals)
  • Use the first two or three letters of a word to check its spelling in a dictionary 
In Years 5 and 6 children are taught to:

  • Use further prefixes and suffixes and understand the guidance for adding them (such as able and ible)
  • Spell some words with silent letters (such as knight)
  • Continue to distinguish between homophones and other words which are often confused
  • Use knowledge of morphology and etymology in spelling
  • Use dictionaries to check the spelling and meaning of words
  • Use a thesaurus
By the end of Year 6, children are expected to understand and be able to meet the challenging spelling demands outlined in the National Curriculum. Children's knowledge is assessed through a grammar, punctuation and spelling test that children sit in May as part of a week of national tests.

At Branfil we follow the Read Write Inc. Spelling Programme.  This begins in year 2 and continues until year 6. Each child will receive a daily spelling lesson.  Your child will bring home their spelling log book every week to consolidate and practice what they have been learning at school.  You may like to photograph the page in the log book so you can keep it for reference at home.

How can I support my child's spelling at home?

1. Encourage children to have a go at spelling a new word; only help if they ask you to.

2. Make sure children remember to use their phonics as they try to spell a word. Phonics is the main way that children are taught to spell at the start of primary school. Encouraging children to break the word they want to spell into its individual sounds and then try to match those sounds to the letters of the alphabet is really important. Reminding children to segment 'frog' into its four sounds, sounds like such a basic way of supporting spelling, but practising it is so important if it is to become second nature.

3. Help your child with their spelling homework.  Each week your child will be bringing home their log book with spellings to learn from that week.  If they are struggling to remember them, you might draw their attention to any patterns or groups of letters in the words, making links to the phonics they've been taught e.g. which letters are making the sound here? Yes, it's the ai, just like in gain and Spain. That's different to the at sound in play, isn't it? You can also focus children's attention on the tricky bits in a word by asking them to circle them e.g. show them that said has ai in the middle and ask them to write the word, and then circle this part to help them remember.

4. Ask children to write down the words that they need to remember how to spell. The physical act of writing the words by hand helps to anchor the spelling in children's memories and encourages them to think about the letters that represent the sounds in the word. You just don't get the same benefits if children type the words into a PC or tablet.

5. Hidden words is a game that you can prepare yourself. Write the words on your child's spelling list, hidden in a series of letters. Now that they are hidden, ask your child to find them. For example:

  • sfhplayknc -  play
  • qrubitpdh - bit
  • nvzbikejfa  - bike
Your child could circle the hidden words with coloured pens. To raise the challenge, you could set a time limit on the game. For example, how many words can you find in one minute?

6. Making silly sentences can be great fun. Challenge your child to write a silly sentence, including as many of the words on their spelling list as possible. For example, your child may have to learn room, took, hoop, foot, book. They could make up a silly sentence such as 'The boy took his book across the room but got his foot caught in a hoop'. Again they could draw illustrations to go with the sentences.

7. Remind children to read through their writing and check for spelling errors. They need to develop a feel for whether a word looks right. They could underline words they are not sure of and then you could both check with a dictionary.

8. Over-pronunciation is a great spelling strategy. So for Wednesday encourage children to say Wed-nes-day as they write. There are lots of words which feature sounds that aren't always pronounced clearly (such as words ending in -ed), so asking children to over-pronounce these when spelling can also be useful (for example, teaching children to say hopped or skipped instead of jumpt can be a huge help).

9. Playing spelling games

Playing games such as hangman can help children to learn about spelling in an enjoyable way. Online games such as Word Worm for KS1 ( can be motivating too.

Finally, remember that learning to spell is a gradual process and children need to go through this at their own pace. Children learn best at home when they enjoy what they are doing so try to keep spelling activities fun and lively.

At Branfil, we want children to have a head full of words and not a head full of worries.

Happy spelling!