National Curriculum KS1 Y1: Spelling

Statutory requirements

Pupils should be taught to:

  • spell:
    • words containing each of the 40+ phonemes already taught
    • common exception words
    • the days of the week
  • name the letters of the alphabet:
    • naming the letters of the alphabet in order
    • using letter names to distinguish between alternative spellings of the same sound
  • add prefixes and suffixes:
    • using the spelling rule for adding –s or –es as the plural marker for nouns and the third person singular marker for verbs
    • using the prefix un–
    • using –ing, –ed, –er and –est where no change is needed in the spelling of root words [for example, helping, helped, helper, eating, quicker, quickest]
  • apply simple spelling rules and guidance, as listed below
  • write from memory simple sentences dictated by the teacher that include words using the GPCs and common exception words taught so far.

The boundary between revision of work covered in Reception and the introduction of new work may vary according to the programme used, but basic revision should include

  • all letters of the alphabet and the sounds which they most commonly represent
  • consonant digraphs which have been taught and the sounds which they represent
  • vowel digraphs which have been taught and the sounds which they represent
  • the process of segmenting spoken words into sounds before choosing graphemes that represent the sounds
  • words with adjacent consonants
  • guidance and rules which have been taught
Statutory requirements Rules and guidance (non-statutory) Example words (non-statutory)
The sounds /f/, /l/, /s/, /z/ and /k/ spelt ff, ll, ss, zz and ck The /f/, /l/, /s/, /z/ sounds are usually spelt as ff, ll, ss, zz and ck if they come straight after a single vowel letter in short words. Exceptions: if, pal, us, bus, yes. off, well, miss, buzz, back
The /ŋ/ sound spelt n before k   bank, think, honk, sunk
Division of words into syllables Each syllable is like a 'beat' in the spoken word. Words of more than one syllable often have an unstressed syllable in which the vowel sound is unclear. pocket, rabbit, carrot, thunder, sunset
-tch The /tʃ/ sound is usually spelt as tch if it comes straight after a single vowel letter. Exceptions: rich, which, much, such. catch, fetch, kitchen, notch, hutch
The /v/ sound at the end of words English words hardly ever end with the letter v, so if a word ends with a /v/ sound, the letter e usually needs to be added after the ‘v’. have, live, give
Adding s and es to words (plural of nouns and the third person singular of verbs) If the ending sounds like /s/ or /z/, it is spelt as –s. If the ending sounds like /ɪz/ and forms an extra syllable or ‘beat’ in the word, it is spelt as –es. cats, dogs, spends, rocks, thanks, catches
Adding the endings –ing, –ed and –er to verbs where no change is needed to the root word –ing and –er always add an extra syllable to the word and –ed sometimes does. The past tense of some verbs may sound as if it ends in /ɪd/ (extra syllable), /d/ or /t/ (no extra syllable), but all these endings are spelt –ed. If the verb ends in two consonant letters (the same or different), the ending is simply added on. hunting, hunted, hunter, buzzing, buzzed, buzzer, jumping, jumped, jumper
Adding –er and –est to adjectives where no change is needed to the root word As with verbs (see above), if the adjective ends in two consonant letters (the same or different), the ending is simply added on. grander, grandest, fresher, freshest, quicker, quickest

Vowel digraphs and trigraphs

Some may already be known, depending on the programmes used in Reception, but some will be new.

Vowel digraphs and trigraphs Rules and guidance (non-statutory) Example words (non-statutory)
ai, oi The digraphs ai and oi are virtually never used at the end of English words. rain, wait, train, paid, afraid, oil, join, coin, point, soil
ay, oy ay and oy are used for those sounds at the end of words and at the end of syllables. day, play, say, way, stay boy, toy, enjoy, annoy
a–e made, came, same, take, safe
e–e   these, theme, complete
i–e   five, ride, like, time, side
o–e   home, those, woke, hope, hole
u–e Both the /u:/ and /ju:/ (‘oo’ and ‘yoo’) sounds can be spelt as u–e. June, rule, rude, use, tube, tune
ar   car, start, park, arm, garden
ee   see, tree, green, meet, week
ea (/i:/)   sea, dream, meat, each, read (present tense)
ea (/ɛ/)   head, bread, meant, instead, read (past tense)
er (/ɜ:/)   (stressed sound): her, term, verb, person
er (/ə/)   (unstressed schwa sound): better, under, summer, winter, sister
ir   girl, bird, shirt, first, third
ur   turn, hurt, church, burst, Thursday
oo (/u:/) Very few words end with the letters oo, although the few that do are often words that primary children in year 1 will encounter, for example, zoo food, pool, moon, zoo, soon
oo (/ʊ/)   book, took, foot, wood, good
oa The digraph oa is very rare at the end of an English word. boat, coat, road, coach, goal
oe   toe, goes
ou The only common English word ending in ou is you. out, about, mouth, around, sound
ow (/aʊ/)
ow (/əʊ/)
ue ew
Both the /u:/ and /ju:/ (‘oo’ and ‘yoo’) sounds can be spelt as u–e, ue and ew. If words end in the /oo/ sound, ue and ew are more common spellings than oo. now, how, brown, down, town own, blow, snow, grow, show, blue, clue, true, rescue, Tuesday, new, few, grew, flew, drew, threw
ie (/aɪ/)   lie, tie, pie, cried, tried, dried
ie (/i:/)   chief, field, thief
igh   high, night, light, bright, right
or   for, short, born, horse, morning
ore   more, score, before, wore, shore
aw   saw, draw, yawn, crawl
au   author, August, dinosaur, astronaut
air   air, fair, pair, hair, chair
ear   dear, hear, beard, near, year
ear (/ɛə/)   bear, pear, wear
are (/ɛə/)   bare, dare, care, share, scared
Words ending –y   very, happy, funny, party, family
New consonant spellings ph and wh The /f/ sound is not usually spelt as ph in short everyday words (e.g. fat, fill, fun). dolphin, alphabet, phonics, elephant, when, where, which, wheel, while
Using k for the /k/ sound The /k/ sound is spelt as k rather than as c before e, i and y. Kent, sketch, kit, skin, frisky
Adding the prefix un- The prefix un- is added to the beginning of a word without any change to the spelling of the root word. unhappy, undo, unload, unfair, unlock
Compound words Compound words are two words joined together. Each part of the longer word is spelt as it would be if it were on its own. football, playground, farmyard, bedroom, blackberry
Common exception words Pupils’ attention should be drawn to the grapheme-phoneme correspondences that do and do not fit in with what has been taught so far. the, a, do, to, today, of, said, says, are, were, was, is, his, has, I, you, your, they, be, he, me, she, we, no, go, so, by, my, here, there, where, love, come, some, one, once, ask, friend, school, put, push, pull, full, house, our – and/or others, according to the programme used

Notes and guidance (non-statutory)

Reading should be taught alongside spelling, so that pupils understand that they can read back words they have spelt.

Pupils should be shown how to segment spoken words into individual phonemes and then how to represent the phonemes by the appropriate grapheme(s). It is important to recognise that phoneme-grapheme correspondences (which underpin spelling) are more variable than grapheme-phoneme correspondences (which underpin reading). For this reason, pupils need to do much more word-specific rehearsal for spelling than for reading.

At this stage pupils will be spelling some words in a phonically plausible way, even if sometimes incorrectly. Misspellings of words that pupils have been taught to spell should be corrected; other misspelt words should be used to teach pupils about alternative ways of representing those sounds.

Writing simple dictated sentences that include words taught so far gives pupils opportunities to apply and practise their spelling.


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