At Wattle Park Primary School, we understand the importance of Literacy in lifelong learning. Being able to read, write and spell encompasses a diverse set of skills that empower individuals to comprehend, interpret, and communicate effectively across different contexts. It also provides the ability to successfully engage with and contribute to society. There is a direct link between efficiency in literacy and further lifelong outcomes.

It is for this reason that we have been spending a great deal of time reflecting on current practice and ensuring we are keeping up with the latest scientific understandings on how children learn to spell, read and write. Our goal is to ensure we are creating the optimum environment for students to experience growth/success and to be the best they can be. On top of the basics, we also want to cultivate the ability to think critically and analytically, to question and potentially challenge what we are exposed to. To be able to use our literacy skills to engage with a broad range of media whilst continuing to think for ourselves.



To find ourselves at the above end result, we need to start at the very basics of language development, in particular, our phonetic awareness. Wattle Park Primary School is very proud to have invested in evidence-based spelling curriculum throughout the school.


Foundation- Year Two- Sounds-Write

The Sounds-Write Program is an internationally renowned linguistic phonics program. It is a very highly structured, multi-sensory, incremental and code-oriented, instructional approach to teaching children to read and spell.

Sounds-Write teaches students how the alphabetic code works. It teaches students the key skills required to be effective readers and spellers. What we need to understand about learning to read is that it is not one skill; it is a complex of skills, conceptual knowledge and code knowledge. Children are biologically primed to learn the language that they speak but are not primed to learn the writing system of that language. We need to teach children the writing system explicitly and systematically.

Sounds-Write starts with the sounds of the English language. From there, it takes them in carefully sequenced, incremental steps and teaches them how each of the 44 or so sounds in the English language can be spelt.


The four key concepts are:

  1.     Letters are symbols that represent sounds
  2.     Sounds can be spelled using 1, 2, 3 or 4 letters
  3.     The same sound can be spelled in different ways 
  4.     The same spelling can represent different sounds


Sounds-Write then teaches that letters or combinations of letters are the ways in which we represent those sounds when we write.


The 3 skills Sounds-Write teaches are:

  1.       Segmenting
  2.       Blending
  3.       Phoneme Manipulation


These skills need to be perfected and practised to become a fluent reader.



Segmenting individual sounds in speech is vital for both reading and spelling. To read, the reader must segment the sound-spelling correspondences in a word before blending them to make a recognisable word. When writing, a student also needs to split the word into its component sounds. E.g. /c/…./a/…/t/… and to represent each sound as a letter.



The skill of blending involves pushing sounds together to form meaningful words. For example /b/ /oa/ /t/ = ‘boat.’


Phoneme Manipulation

The skill of manipulating individual sounds within words enables one sound to be replaced by another. For instance, take the word ‘bat,’ and replace the sound /a/ with the sound /i/ so it becomes ‘bit.’ This skill is essential when the reader is problem solving when decoding. For instance, the letter <o> represents 4 completely different sounds in the words ‘go,’ ‘pot,’ ‘mother,’ and ‘to,’ When reading unfamiliar words, a child needs to decode by trying different letters or spellings and they must be prepared to test out alternatives. Therefore, the reader needs to be able to manipulate sounds instantly. This is a skill proficient readers are able to carry out automatically, and it occurs without having to think about it.

The following resources provide additional information about the Sounds-Write program:


Year Three- Year Six- Spelling Mastery

Spelling Mastery is an evidence-based program that builds dependable spelling skills for students in our school from Years 3-6 through a highly structured direct instruction method that blends the following approaches:

Phonemic approach - helps beginning spellers learn the relationships between spoken sounds and written letters and then apply them to spelling

Morphemic approach - exposes advanced spellers to prefixes, bases, and suffixes

Whole-word approach - gives spellers at all levels the meaning and root of a word and shows how the word's spelling is influenced.

Spelling Mastery interweaves these three approaches according to student's skill development and provides straightforward lessons to help efficiently and effectively teach the spelling skills students need to become proficient readers and writers.

Explicit instruction, careful selection of spelling words, and repeated and cumulative practice help students master each concept and reinforce and retain key information.


Research Base

  • Research on Teaching Children to SpellThis article shows the extensive research base of Spelling Mastery. Spelling Mastery is distinct from many other approaches to teaching spelling. It has demonstrated substantial effects on the spelling development of children.

Other Scientific Research/Articles



As with effective instruction in spelling, a systematic approach to the teaching of reading is required, along with a clear understanding of how children actually learn to read. An easy to understand visual to represent how students learn to read is the above image of Scarborough's Rope. For a more in depth and interesting explanation, you can click on the image below to learn a little more about how children's brains learn to read, presented by Prof. Stanislas Dehaene. 



Foundation - Year Two: Starting with the Word Recognition of the rope and then moving towards the language comprehension


If we want to teach children how to read we need to provide them with books they can actually read. Decodable Readers enable children to use their knowledge of sound-letter relationships that they have been explicitly taught and practise their reading fluency through a story. Decodable readers enable children to practise what they have been explicitly taught in their lessons. This includes books for beginning readers and books from the extended code.


Sounds-Write teaches children spellings (graphemes) and the sounds they represent. Decodable books offer reading practice, allowing children to blend sounds into words and to segment words into sounds when they spell. Decodable books offer children an opportunity to practise what they have been taught with success. We incorporate decodable readers so children are given plenty of opportunity to practise their reading fluency. 


As students gain a stronger understanding of the initial and extended codes, they then begin to move on to levelled readers and eventually more substantial chapter books. Students are introduced to the idea that ‘reading is thinking’. When we are reading, we are constantly thinking, making predictions, connections, asking questions, noticing character traits and how these impact the decisions or characters. In our junior school, we utilise explicit instruction in reading, whilst also encouraging our students to find a love of reading and explore the many wonderful worlds and places reading can take us.


Year Three - Year Six: Continuing to reinforce the word recognition component, whilst having more focus on the language comprehension strands.


As students move into the middle school, the focus moves on from word recognition to language comprehension. By Year 3, students should be proficient decoders and reading age-appropriate text with accuracy and fluency. This shows that they have mastered the alphabetic code and have commenced building a bank of mental orthographic patterns that assist with reading efficiency. The teaching of reading at this level focuses on a student's comprehension of a text rather than their word reading skills. 


Reading comprehension is influenced by what a reader knows about a text and the reading strategies they apply to build on this knowledge. These strategies include:

  • Deciding the likely topic of a text.
  • Reading and comprehending sentences.
  • Working out the meaning of unfamiliar words in a text.
  • Working out the meaning of a text by inferring, questioning and summarising.
  • Linking meaning across sentences and paragraphs.
  • Reviewing, consolidating and responding to texts.

By focussing on the language comprehension strands of Scarborough's Reading Rope, we successfully assist students to become increasingly aware and strategic in their reading.



​Learning to write is a​​ complex process encompassing cognitive, physical, social and cultural dimension​​s (Daffern, Mackenzie & Hemmings, 2017).


Writing is an integral part of learning in all disciplines requiring students to write or compose a diverse range of texts that meet the literacy demands specific to the various curriculum or discipline areas.

Texts produced, and interpreted, might be print based or multimodal. In the composition of modally complex texts, ‘writing is one of several modes of representation’ (Kress & Bezemer, 2009, p. 167). As such, students need to be taught a range of skills and meaning-making codes to compose texts.


To be an effective writer requires an understanding of:

  • encoding meaning and the processes of writing and/or composition
  • the processes of writing and /or composition
  • the purposes of texts and their intended audiences
  • the language and visual choices that shape the meaning of texts.

The Victorian Curriculum: English F-10 provides the following account of writing:

  • writing involves students in the active process of conceiving, planning, composing, editing and publishing a range of texts
  • writing involves using appropriate language for particular purposes or occasions, both formal and informal, to express and represent ideas and experiences, and to reflect on these aspects
  • writing involves the development of knowledge about strategies for writing and the conventions of Standard Australian English. Students develop a metalanguage to discuss language conventions and use. (VCAA).

At Wattle Park Primary School, we involve students in writing for authentic audiences and purposes, such as publishing items for their Writer’s Gift books, preparing a speech for assembly or crafting a piece for the newsletter. To do this, students across all year levels are involved in focussed and scaffolded writing lessons.  During these lessons students are supported to develop their writing skills through modelled, shared and independent writing where varying levels of support can be provided at different points of need. We incorporate explicit instruction about the processes of writing and the structural and grammatical features of different genres.