Your new design will be uploaded in:
Please contact Delivery Team on
0113 3200 750 if you have any queries.

St Mary's Catholic Primary School

Common Exception Words

Year 1 and 2

Year 3 and 4

Year 5 and 6


As part of the’ New Curriculum’ recently introduced into all schools a list of ‘Common Exception Words’ has been produced. Common exception words are words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way. They are not words for which phonics 'doesn't work', but they may be exceptions to spelling rules, or words which use a particular combination of letters to represent sound patterns in a rare or unique way. Of course, not every child will be able to spell every single word: the expectation is that schools work to ensure that all children can confidently spell as many of these words as they can given their ‘age and stage’.

At St Mary’s we already test our children against these words. However, in order to help our children improve further and faster in their confidence in spelling these words, we would like our parents to help us by supporting an accelerated drive to learn these words…

 Your child should have brought home then ‘Common Exception Word ‘lists today. We have given your child a copy of each of the three lists available. Although your child should focus primarily on the list relevant to their age, parents may feel that work on the lower or higher lists is a good idea also.

 Children do not have to stick to the word lists that relate to their age group. For example, If a child is in year 4 and they clearly know all the year 3/4 words, they may as well begin on the year 5/6 lists. Alternatively, if a child is in year 4 and they find these words difficult, they could practise the year 2 words and some of the easier Year 3/4 words.

We want EVERY child to practise their words and to get better and better at spelling. We would ask that parents support us in this by helping their child to develop a regular routine at home.

How can parents get involved in helping their child to learn their ‘Common Exception Words’?

There are many ways you can do this and how you choose to get involved is entirely up to you! Here are some ideas:

Children choose ten words, look at them for ten seconds, cover them, try to spell them, check them (Look Cover Spell Check.)

  • Children are tested on ten words each time by an adult in a ‘Spelling Test’. Words that the child can spell can be ticked off their ‘Common Exception Word’ spelling list sheet so the child doesn’t waste time practising words they already know.
  • Find a website that has spelling games as its core goal. Children enjoy learning using various devices!
  • A word a day. Parents give their child a spelling in the morning and test them in the evening. A reward for getting it right could motivate the child to try to remember the word!
  • But, of course, whatever you do will be greatly appreciated and very helpful.
  • Teachers in Key stage 1 and 2 have agreed that they will test your child every week on these words. Teachers will have different ways of doing this but, in order for your child to do well, it would be great if they could learn these words regularly at home. By regularly, we mean at least three times a week for about ten minutes a time. It can, but doesn’t have to involve parents.