KS1 Spelling Curriculum

Years 1 and 2

The KS1 Spelling Curriculum replaced Letters and Sounds, phonics phases 5 and 6. It also includes a set of phase 3 graphemes.

The KS1 Curriculum consists of a Year 1 and a Year 2 element. As with the Letters and Sounds programme, children who are ready, may start the KS1 Spelling Curriculum in Reception. It is important to note that a number of Phase 3 graphemes are now taught in Year 1 of the KS1 Spelling Curriculum.

Requirements for entry

1. Will know all letters of the alphabet and the sounds which they most commonly represent.

2. Will know consonant digraphs which have been taught and the sounds which they represent.

3. Will know vowel digraphs which have been taught and the sounds which they represent.

4. Will be able to segment spoken words into sounds before choosing graphemes to represent the sounds.

5. Will be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants.

KS1 Spelling Curriculum Programme of Study

The newer KS1 Spelling Curriculum is more effective programme than Letters and Sounds Phase 5 for the following reasons

1. It explicitly teaches the connection between pronunciation and spelling. For example, the three different ways of pronouncing the past tense suffix ‘ed’  are specifically referred to.

2. It includes a focus on common exception words which young learners can find difficult to read, spell and pronounce.

3. It has much more relevant word lists which accelerate learning. The Letters and Sounds document could be criticised for including some less familiar words, such as ‘woe’, ‘doe’ and ‘foe’ for less common graphemes.

4. Word lists include past tense words, essential for story reading and writing, a key aspect of literacy.

5. The grammatical element, Phase 6 of Letters and Sounds is replaced by the continuous teaching of grammar throughout KS1. This is more relevant to the words, graphemes and patterns that are being taught. Teach these spelling rules earlier also improves accuracy.

Common Exception and High-Frequency Words

The KS1 Curriculum defines ‘exception words’ as words that containing graphemes which have not yet been taught as widely applicable, pointing out that this may be because they are applicable in very few age-appropriate words rather than because they are rare in English words in general. These words are easier to learn using Monster Phonics colour-coding to highlight features and to support memory. Monster Phonics Year 1 and Year 2 common exception word flashcards and PowerPoints are free to download. When first teaching patterns, it is useful to present words in groups containing the same grapheme. Once patterns are recognised, a randomised presentation will support consolidation. Separate PowerPoints are provided for this reason/

The KS1 Spelling Curriculum does not specify a list of high-frequency words to be learnt, stating the words chosen will depend on the scheme being followed. Monster Phonics uses the first 300 high-frequency word list. Sixty-five percent of all printed words consist of these words.

Monster Phonics

Lesson plans and resources to teach the KS1 Curriculum are set out in the Year 1 and Year 2 sections of the Monster Phonics resources area. Every element of the curriculum is covered. Assessment materials provide formative and end of year assessments for phonics, spelling rules, common exception and high-frequency words. Assessments are aligned to the Year 1 phonics screen and end of KS1 teacher assessment frameworks.

The Monster Phonics programme has supplemented the KS1 Spelling Curriculum word lists by researching the 3000 most common words used by children in their reading and in their own writing. These word lists form the basis for each activity, song, game or story so that the connection between the grapheme and the words that contain that grapheme is made (such as, the ai grapheme is linked to rain, sail, train and the a-e grapheme is connected with made, take, came). As these word lists contain the words that children use, they are most effective for learning.

Lesson plans and resources also show teachers which are the most common and rare graphemes which is important when a spelling is unknown and good phonic ‘guesses’ must be made. For example, words ending with the ‘ul’ sound are more likely to use the  ‘le’ grapheme than the ‘el’, ‘il’ or ‘al’ as ‘le’ is by far the most common. Learning the most frequently used words for the graphemes ‘el’, ‘il’ and ‘al’ improves the accuracy of such a guess, as these can be ruled in or out.  Monster Phonics lesson plans also highlight important links to spelling rules (previously phase 6 of Letters and Sounds) and provide additional useful linguistic background for each grapheme.

Read about Letters and Sounds

Browse the Letters & Sounds phased phonics teaching structure for schools. 

Tricky and high-frequency words are taught alongside phonics at each phase of Letters and Sounds, as well as in the KS1 Spelling Curriculum. Read more about tricky and high-frequency words.