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Geoff Ashton

Blogs by Geoff Ashton
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4 minutes reading time (795 words)

The most effective spelling, reading, phonics software available?


Literacy Resources

Like many teachers, I've used the various available resources over the years that aim to help children learn, practise and retain the information that will help them to become more fluent readers, more accurate spellers and more effective writers.

Many of them have helped to some degree, but few of them have been a 'go-to' resource for almost every ability level, and every learning style - that is, until I discovered Nessy.

Nessy learning programme

Nessy Learning Programme

There's little argument that in the majority of cases children who struggle to learn spellings, struggle to read fluently and struggle to write effectively all benefit from a structured approach to teaching these areas.

However, we all know and understand that English has an unfortunate habit of resisting hard and fast 'rules'. Just when you think you've found one, along comes a whole raft of exceptions.

So rather than call them rules, which of course they aren't, Nessy have strung together 'patterns' of words in a way that is engaging and thoroughly memorable for children to learn how to read and spell.

I've personally been using this software for the last few years, with children of all primary ages, from Reception right up to Year 6.

Common spelling patterns can be practised in a colourful, entertaining, engaging way, without the tedium of endless worksheets. This is one of the better and more noble uses of multi-media. All the learning styles are touched upon ensuring that all children, ranging from those with a dyslexia 'diagnosis' to those who simply need to brush up on their spellings are catered for.

 Nessy Learning Programme


What does it do?

Nessy Learning Programme will assess which phonic patterns and spelling patterns a child is unable to recall. It will then provide a series of games which will help them to practise these patterns and ultimately to internalise them.

It will also perform a similar function with reading; helping children to learn the meanings of words and place them into context - a hugely vital ability to have throughout their school life and beyond.

Who can use it?

Teachers, tutors and parents can use this software without any training needed - of course it helps enormously if you know exactly which areas the child in question is struggling with; but then Nessy helps you with that too. There are both reading and spelling assessments which can be taken repeatedly once the targets (as flagged up through the assessments) are achieved.

In my own case, as a private tutor, I use Nessy with every child I teach Literacy to. It fits in perfectly with children who need to learn or practise specific phonic patterns. Yet it also improves the spellings capability (and word power) of children at the other end of the scale, even those who are in Year 6 and aiming to get a good grade in the Level 6 SATS paper!

 (You might be interested in the best darn parents' guide to phonics on the web!)


Perhaps one of its major benefits, and where it stands head and shoulders above other similar resources is that Nessy clearly demonstrates ongoing achievement with a percentage along a 'line of progression'. Children and parents can see precisely where the child started prior to completing the games; then again after completing them. I can't underestimate what a boost that gives to parents, children and even teachers when progress can be seen so clearly!


Scratched the surface

I've just touched upon a few of the things that Nessy can do - there is a lot more to it than this. For instance, it will also give you worksheets for consolidation (I've found these are only required in the rarest of situations, the games are so effective); provides humorous little animations to help kids remember 'rules'; helps with the spelling of high frequency words...the list goes on!


Please note: I am keen to point out that this review of a product is very much written with my personal integrity intact. I am receiving no financial gain by the software company, it is absolutely my professional opinion based on several years of use with children of varying ages and abilities.

 Nessy Learning Programme



This resource, like all resources, is only as effective as the teacher who is directing its use. Don't make the mistake of purchasing it, signing your child on then leaving them to it. This will have little to no benefit for the child other than to keep them entertained for a while.

A child needs to be properly assessed, then taught whatever is the next step for them. Nessy will then be useful as a practice and consolidation resource along with other resources to provide the breadth needed to engage long-term memory.



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