Spelling: teaching and learning spelling

Colin Harrison and Greg Brooks | View as single page| Feedback/Impact

Research base

The primary goal of the MESH Spelling site developers has been to bring together insights from the past 40 years of research into spelling, and to present these in ways that are bite-sized, clear and intelligible to a non-expert. We know that all teachers understand the importance of being able to spell, but we also know that as successive governments have made teacher preparation more and more school-based, teachers have had fewer and fewer opportunities to learn about the cognitive processes that underpin spelling before they enter the classroom.

The information on this site will help those who want to learn more about

  • cognitive processes in spelling
  • the spelling rules in English
  • how to analyse spelling errors
  • how to teach spelling
  • where to find resources to support that teaching
  • research studies that have been shown to improve spelling

The developers have drawn primarily upon research from the UK and USA, and the references list shows some of our main influences.

  • Earnhale Junior, Nottingham
  • Monkhouse Primary, North Shields
  • Pensby Primary, Wirral
  • St Columba's RC Primary, Tyne and Wear
  • Firbeck Academy, Nottingham

The development team brings together considerable expertise in reading research, research into ICT for learning, early reading development, assessment and supporting learners with special needs:

Colin Harrison is Emeritus Professor of Literacy Studies in Education at the University of Nottingham, Past President of the UK Reading Association and is the only UK citizen since 1984 to have been awarded the International Reading Association's International Citation of Merit. He was a founder editor of the Journal of Research in Reading, and has over 150 publications, mostly in the fields of reading and new technologies. His first major research grant for an online teacher development project was in 1998, and since that time he has led 22 research projects in the new technologies field, in schools and higher education. He currently leads on the Dyslexia component of the MA in Special Educational Needs at the University of Nottingham.

Greg Brooks is Emeritus Professor in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. He has been President of the UK Reading Association, editor of the Journal of Research in Reading, and is an international expert on both phonics (his doctoral area) and assessment. In 2002 Greg was a founder member of the National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy and was Research Director of its Sheffield arm until the consortium was dissolved in 2008. He directed 15 research projects for NRDC, which included reviewing various aspects of the field, especially previous research and the available assessment instruments, and investigating how much progress adult learners make and what enables them to make better progress, particularly in reading. He was a member of the Advisory Group to the Rose review of the teaching of reading, and in 2007 provided tables of phoneme-grapheme and grapheme-phoneme correspondences for Letters and Sounds.

Gill Johnson is Lecturer in Primary Education in the University of Nottingham. She has over fifteen years of experience as a teacher at Key Stages 1 and 2, and has been a SENCO, Literacy Coordinator and Advanced Skills Teacher. She is also an accredited trainer for the THRASS literacy development programme. Her PhD research focused on the role of the teaching assistant in literacy support contexts.