Developing word knowledge

This innovation evaluation seeks to determine what impact a direct instruction spelling intervention, delivered via a 36-week vocabulary programme, has on spelling accuracy, reading fluency and reading comprehension outcomes in primary school children in Years 3 and 5.


In both participating schools, the outcomes in the 2016 and 2017 SATs spelling and grammar papers highlighted weaknesses in accurate spelling recall. Pupils that struggle to attain expected standards in spelling and grammar often also have lower than expected outcomes in reading comprehension. Although accurate spelling recall is a common challenge for all pupils, standardised spelling test scores at Bottesford Junior School make evident that certain pupils continue to struggle to meet the required ‘on-track’ level, with close to 45% of the current Year 3 cohort below this benchmark.


A bespoke word knowledge intervention will be taught to pupils in Years 3 and 5. This intervention focuses on five aspects of word knowledge: breadth of vocabulary, depth of vocabulary, fluency, word memorisation and recall automaticity. Two word knowledge lessons will be taught each week, one introducing the weeks’ spellings and the other focusing on semantics and morphology. These lessons will be reinforced by short word level activities throughout the week and a spelling test at the end of the week.

Lead school

  • Bottesford Junior School, Scunthorpe

Schools involved

  • Bowmandale Primary School
  • Bottesford Junior School

Download the protocol document