Debbie: A year ago I was kindly sent the testimonial below which I posted amongst several other testimonials from seniors leaders in various schools using one or more of our phonics bodies of work. I’m re-posting here to highlight it and to add any updates of findings since this original post:
“After taking on the leadership of phonics, I wanted to brush up on my subject knowledge so that I could support my team and ensure the children were receiving high quality phonics instructions. I came across Debbie’s Phonics Training Online and took the online course, which I highly recommend. I was engrossed in what I was learning and this led me to explore the Phonics International program.
Everything just made so much sense. The resources are easily accessible and easy to follow. When I first started trialling the program, the children found the sheets quite demanding. However they quickly got into the routine and their stamina for reading and writing grew. The children were used to reading banks of words everyday, so when it came to the phonics screening check in Year 1, they were no longer phased by reading the 40 words. The variety of words on the sheets also enables the class to have rich discussions about vocabulary and then apply this in their writing across the curriculum.
I’ve always been concerned about what happens to those children in KS2 that haven’t yet got a secure understanding of phonics, or explored the complex phoneme-grapheme correspondences. The beauty of the Phonics International resources is that they aren’t babyish. There’s no puppets or rhymes, just the serious business of teaching children the code they need to read and write. This means that the children in KS2 aren’t disengaged by the resources. They enjoy the familiarity of the session and continuing to build their knowledge of the alphabetic code.
From a leadership point of view, the biggest challenge was encouraging KS2 staff to continue with phonics. Once they were onboard and understood that it’s impossible to expect seven year olds to have mastered the English alphabetic code, they began to notice the impact on spelling. We ditched the weekly spelling test that had no impact beyond the test and continued looking at GPCs and teaching the children how to use the alphabetic code charts to select the correct grapheme for their spelling. This trickled down into KS1 and we stopped accepting phonetically plausible spelling; improving spelling across the entire school.
From a finance point of view, it’s impossible to put a price on ensuring our children are confident readers and writers. However, Phonics International is so cost effective. I’ve introduced it in two schools and the impact has been phenomenal with above national average phonics scores, but more importantly, confident readers and writers in EYFS, KS1 and beyond.
I highly recommend any of Debbie’s programs and frequently talk about them on Twitter and on my blog. Feel free to reach out @biscuit_crumbs and ask any questions.”
Biscuit Crumbs’ education blog: