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A new spelling test for primary school children


BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants




Georgia Niolaki, Janet Vousden, Laura Taylor

Project team

Georgia Niolaki, Janet Vousden, Laura Taylor, Luisa Tarczynski-Bowles, Claire Pillinger & Lauren Debney

Project objectives

Research in spelling is sparse in comparison to reading; this is the case although children, adolescents and adults significantly underperform in spelling and spelling difficulties are not easily mitigated in comparison to reading. We are interested in the development of a new spelling battery for primary school children. This new test will include a large number of different psycholinguistic variables and will have the potential to be an effective tool for spelling intervention studies.

Impact statement

Despite changes in the curriculum, only 53 % of pupils in the UK currently reach the expected standard in reading and writing (DfE, 2016). Being a competent writer and reader is also dependant on being a good speller. The study will aim to i) advance the field of literacy development theoretically by investigating the factors that affect spelling development, such as letter-sound knowledge, memory, and speeded item naming using both a standardised spelling test and a new spelling test with regular, irregular and non-words, ii) develop a new spelling test which will identify the extent to which the child uses letter-sound knowledge and/or whole-word recognition of familiar items. Such a test that can identify the child’s spelling strategies does not exist in the UK. Current spelling tests assess the children’s spellings in a dichotomous way - correct or incorrect - and fail to capture the child's true spelling ability, knowledge, and the logic behind the children’s spelling errors. We will fill this gap and provide educators with practical spelling teaching strategies.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023