Warning: the Stages have fuzzy boundaries.
The Spelling Route can be an extremely useful tool.
However, a strong warning is called for: as with most human progress, the stages of development actually have no neat starting and finishing lines. Rather, the boundaries are fuzzy.
In fact, the Spelling Route should be thought of as a continuum. It's a continuous set of states blending into each other so seamlessly and gradually, it is hard to tell where one becomes the next.
Furthermore, as we watch learners at work from day to day, it's clear that these stages often overlap.
A learner may well display characteristics typical of two adjacent stages at one and the same time, or may well seem to be at one stage in one piece of work, and at another stage in another. For instance, a beginner-learner may be discovering the joys of listening to rhyme while at the same time collecting knowledge about some letter-sound matches. Another learner, concentrating on phonics in the Early stage, may very well also be exploring some facts about English words imported from other languages. And so on.