National Literacy Learning Progression

Please select one element to view the content
Please select one sub-element to view the content

Spelling description

This sub-element describes how a student becomes increasingly proficient in selecting and arranging letters to form accurately spelt words. Students develop increasing skill and proficiency in using spelling as a tool to understand and create meaning in texts. At higher levels of the progression, students monitor their own spelling and explain how spelling impacts upon meaning.

Particular links exist between this sub-element and Creating texts, Phonemic awareness and Phonic knowledge and word recognition.

Not all students will use handwriting to create texts; some will express themselves using augmentative and alternative communication strategies. This may include digital technologies, braille, real objects, photographs and pictographs.

Each sub-element level has been identified by upper-case initials and in some cases lower-case letters of the sub-element name followed by ascending numbers. The abbreviation for this sub-element is SpG. The listing of indicators within each level is non-hierarchical. Where appropriate, examples have been provided in brackets following an indicator.


  • writes letters to represent words
  • spells own name


  • explains that words can be represented with letters
  • experiments with writing letters and words


  • writes letters of the alphabet and says a common corresponding sound (phoneme)
  • writes letters to correspond to a given sound




  • writes letters to represent the dominant or first sounds (phonemes) in words, when attempting to spell words (apl for apple)
  • writes some appropriate letter combinations to represent words (bis for because)
  • writes correctly some common one-syllable words with regular phonic graphemic patterns (am)
  • writes correctly some common high-frequency words with irregular phonic graphemic patterns (boy)


  • represents all phonemes when attempting to spell one- and two-syllable words
  • writes correctly a range of words from the hundred high-frequency words correctly (class)
  • spells less familiar words using regular phonemic graphemic patterns (sum for some)
  • writes common plurals formed by adding ‘s’ correctly (cats)
  • writes words with common suffixes that indicate tense (play, played, playing)
  • uses visual knowledge (my), phonic knowledge (can) and morphemic knowledge (plays = play + s) to attempt to spell words


  • exchanges one letter in a word to make a new word (dip, tip)
  • writes two-letter consonant blends in words correctly (sl in slip)
  • writes common plurals formed with adding ‘es’ correctly (boxes)
  • uses onset and rime to spell words (p-at)
  • writes words with consonants doubled after a short vowel (shopping)


  • uses morphemic word families to spell words (small, smaller)
  • writes more difficult, unfamiliar words phonetically, with all phonemes represented (enjin for engine)
  • spells words with learnt digraphs (that)
  • spells words with learnt long vowel sounds (skirt)
  • writes one- and two-syllable words with consonant blends (clapping)
  • uses knowledge of morphemes to spell compound words with common base words (Sunday)
  • uses simple dictionaries and spellcheckers


  • writes most common and high-frequency words correctly
  • writes common words with silent letters correctly (white)
  • writes some common contractions correctly (won’t, don’t)
  • uses three-letter consonant blends in words correctly (three, string, splash)
  • uses knowledge of morphemes to spell compound words, where the base word remains unchanged (grandmother)
  • uses bank of spelling strategies and knowledge to attempt to spell words (phonic knowledge, visual knowledge, morphemic knowledge)
  • recognises spelling errors in own writing



  • writes words which do not include common phonic patterns or letter groupings correctly
  • spells less common homophones correctly (site, sight)
  • applies spelling generalisations when writing words
  • explains and uses a range of morphemic word families (friend, friendship, unfriendly)
  • uses knowledge of prefixes and suffixes to spell less common words (triangle, disagree)
  • explains that some different areas of the world have different accepted spelling rules and makes choices accordingly when producing text (colour, color)
  • spells a range of words with less common letter groupings correctly (mountain)
  • uses knowledge of base words to spell unfamiliar words (line, linesman)



  • uses less common prefixes and suffixes including those which require changes to the base word (separation, explanation)
  • spells multisyllabic words including some with more complex letter patterns (democracy)
  • uses knowledge of Latin and Greek word origins to explain spelling of technical words (physical, maritime, vacuum)


  • spells a range of challenging words with less common letter groupings (naive, cadence)
  • spells words with less common prefixes and suffixes (im-precise, employ-ee)
  • spells less common plurals (foci)
  • explains how spelling can be a support to both reading and writing
  • explains the limitations of spell check features in digital communication
  • uses spelling rules and generalisations, word origins and visual memory to spell unfamiliar words


  • monitors spelling in own texts and makes appropriate corrections
  • uses spelling knowledge and spelling resources to attempt complex, unfamiliar words (photosynthesis)
  • explains how spelling is used creatively in texts for particular effects (characterisation and humour and to represent accents and styles of speech)