Story: Michelle’s Story

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Michelle Lockwood is a secondary English teacher at St Bernard’s High Catholic High School in Rotherham. With Let Teachers SHINE funding, she has launched Spelling Beats, an exciting, online programme that makes learning spelling engaging and fun.

When I was at school I had some amazing teachers and my food tech teacher was one of my favourites because she used creative approaches. We used to do Masterchef competitions where other teachers came and sampled the food and she brought cooking to life. Her approach inspired me to become a teacher and to develop a creative and fun approach.

I have been fortunate enough to work in primary and secondary schools in more privileged areas and less privileged areas of the country.

I eventually made a commitment to helping children from low income homes because I know that every child is capable of doing amazing things, they just need someone to believe in them.

I’ve taught a student since year seven who came across as low ability because he couldn’t articulate himself in writing. I could see his intelligence so I gave him some extra help. In year 10, he received a Mensa award and he’s now mostly in the higher GCSE sets. That’s just one example of what children can achieve if you believe in them.

I came up with the idea for Spelling Beats after I realised just how many children have gaps in their spelling skills in primary school. They carry this through to secondary school and they don’t have the opportunity to catch up.

Spelling can be really dry, and it’s often taught and then never revisited. I felt that there should be something that gives children regular spelling practice but uses more creative mediums. I’ve seen how engaged students can be by games and music so I wanted to use both to inspire them. Spelling Beats is unique because it allows students to step into the role of a DJ to practice their spelling, and the kids have so much fun playing it in the classroom.

As well as helping to improve students’ spelling, it also saves teachers’ time because they don’t have to build spelling in to lessons and they don’t have to deliver that extra content.