Teaching platform Spelling Beats to be offered free to children during coronavirus outbreak

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Michelle Lockwood

SHINE funding means thousands of children across the North are set to benefit from free access to a new teaching programme which can help them develop confidence through spelling at home.

Since the coronavirus crisis hit, many parents have been left scratching their heads as to how they can best support their children’s education through this extended period of time out of school.

Michelle Lockwood is one of thousands of teachers across the North who has committed herself to going the extra mile in these extraordinary circumstances.

With support and funding from SHINE, Michelle has developed an innovative programme called Spelling Beats which can keep children engaged and learning.

“During the self-isolation, parents will be pulling their hair out and, while they’ll want to encourage home learning, they’ll also have to battle against other distractions,” said Michelle, who has taught at schools in Barnsley, Rotherham and York.

“Students will quickly tire of dry, worksheet-style home learning so we need to help them continue to make progress.

“Spelling Beats is a perfect solution, as it’s both engaging and educational, and children will be happy to use it. They’ll be having fun, whilst learning at the same time.

Students will quickly tire of dry, worksheet-style home learning so we need to help them continue to make progress. Spelling Beats is a perfect solution, as it’s both engaging and educational, and children will be happy to use it. They’ll be having fun, whilst learning at the same time.

Michelle Lockwood Creator, Spelling Beats

“It will be equally effective for those children of key workers who are still attending school.”

Thanks to additional support recently granted by SHINE, Spelling Beats can now be accessed free of charge by schools serving the most disadvantaged pupils in the North. Qualifying schools will receive a free subscription lasting until September, giving their pupils access to the full Spelling Beats programme throughout this time.

Spelling Beats uses gaming elements and catchy beats to engage children of all ages in learning how to spell.  It allows them to step into the role of a DJ to learn the rules of spelling in a fun and engaging way.

The game combines vibrant high-end graphics with original catchy music tracks in genres including grime, dance, reggae, hip hop, RnB and rock. It also utilises the latest developments in artificial intelligence to draw on a vast database of words covering the whole primary national curriculum for spelling, plus a wide range of secondary subject specific keywords. Unlike other spelling programs, which children can find simplistic and repetitive, Spelling Beats has been developed in conjunction with students and teachers to ensure children of all ages find it relevant and engaging.

The project has been a labour of love for Michelle. She explained: “Having worked in both primary and secondary schools, I found that spelling was often an area of weakness for children, which affected their wider confidence and attitudes, especially towards writing. Conventional methods of teaching spelling can sometimes be perceived as boring, so I wanted to develop an innovative project to turn that notion on its head.”

Up to 100 schools across the North East, North West and Yorkshire & Humber regions are entitled to apply for a free subscription to Spelling Beats. Schools will need to serve an above-average intake of pupil premium students to be eligible. See www.spellingbeats.com for details.