Don't get me wrong - I really am a stickler for correct spellings. Poor spelling and grammar (used by adults, at least) infuriates me. But I loathe spelling tests. I fail to see the benefits of spending around 1/2 an hour each week running a spelling test, knowing full well that many of the children will spell the same words wrong in a piece of work immediately after the test. Quality teaching of word rules and spelling patterns must be the best method.
I was impressed by this post from Tom Barrett regarding good spelling resources on the net.
In the news today is a primary school that has axed spelling homework because pupils find learning lists of words 'distressing'.
The Daily Mail reports that children at the Whitminster Church of England Primary, in Gloucestershire, will no longer be given a short list of words to learn each week because staff believe it leaves them feeling like failures.
Parents' groups called the move 'ridiculous' but headmistress Debbie Marklove, whose school has just over 100 pupils aged four to 11, has invited parents to a meeting to explain her reasons. In a newsletter, Mrs Marklove wrote: "You will notice that the children will not be given spelling lists to learn over the week. We have taken the decision to stop spelling as homework as it is felt that although children may learn them perfectly at home they are often unable to use them in their daily written work. Also many children find this activity unnecessarily distressing."
She added: "Spelling lists are sometimes just tests of memory. If children get five out of five when practising with mum and dad and then get one out of five at school it can give a sense of failure. I would like to emphasise that we are still teaching spellings at school as normal, as is demanded by the literacy curriculum.'
A spokesman for the school said no parents had complained about the policy.
But Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said the decision would come back to haunt her pupils as some spellings, particularly irregular words, needed to be learned. he said, "Youngsters will feel a sense of failure more strongly when they go into the world of work and can't produce a letter or a report for their employers," he said. "There are quite a lot of words which you essentially have to memorise. Lots of parents and grandparents will remember doing spelling tests either pleasantly or unpleasantly. But for all that, it is a necessary part of the learning process."
A report from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority this year showed that most primary school-leavers are unable to spell such basic words as 'height' and 'rigid'.
Gloucestershire County Council's head of improvement, Karen Charters, said: "It is entirely for the school to decide if it wishes to use spelling lists."