The Sounds-Write training course offers four days of intensive training in phonics teaching to teachers, teaching assistants, educational psychologists, parents and speech therapists. Each course offers:
Day 1 of the course introduces trainees to how exactly the sounds of the language relate to the spelling system in English. In other words, we teach alphabet code knowledge cumulatively and we teach learners how to understand it as a conceptual schema. Learners also learn about what science tells us about how learners learn most effectively and what this tells us about how to teach phonics.
Trainees are also shown how best to teach the Initial Code. The Initial Code incorporates all the one-to-one sound-spelling correspondences at CVC (mop), CVCC (lamp), CCVC (flag), CCVCC (swift) and CCCVCC (scrimp) level. We also introduce two letter spellings: <ff>, <ll>, <ss>, <zz> before moving on to teach <sh>, <ch>, <th>, <wh>, <ck> and others.
Day 2 takes up where Day 1 leaves off and takes trainees through all the lessons early years pupils need to learn and practise to become highly proficient in decoding and encoding (reading and spelling) at this level. We teach explicitly all the main sound-spelling correspondences, the three skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation – all of which are shown in the research to be essential to learning to read and spell efficiently, as well as an explicit conceptual understanding of how the alphabet code in English works.
It is also at this point that we familiarise our learners with our diagnostic tests and how to administer them.
Day 3 builds on trainees’ understanding of the code and how to teach it by demonstrating how to teach the greater complexities of the code: one sound, different spellings and one spelling, different sounds. ‘One sound, different spellings’ refers to the fact that all the sounds of English can be spelt in different ways. The flipside of this is ‘one spelling, different sounds’ and this acknowledges that many spellings can represent different sounds. On this day we also demonstrate a small group catch-up lesson and show how to teach errors correction.
Day 4 completes the course by taking trainees through lessons on how to teach polysyllabic (multisyllabic) words from the perspective of both reading and spelling. There is also a special session of spelling and on reading in text.
Some of this factual knowledge, concepts and skills sound as if they are difficult to teach. They aren’t if the teachers understand exactly how the code works and how to teach it in small, cumulative steps.
While practising all of the lessons in the Sounds-Write programme, trainees are assessed on their practice and, at the end of the course, are given the opportunity to take a guided assignment, which is designed to help them to reflect back on the course and what they’ve learnt.
On successful completion of the course, all trainees receive a Sounds-Write certificate.
that a few Sounds-Write courses are offered over five days rather than four. The extra day makes it possible for the guided assignment to be completed during the course rather than being completed at home, but the same material is covered in both courses.
We very strongly believe that all teachers involved in teaching literacy, whether at the level of teaching beginning reading or teaching older pupils as a catch-up/intervention programme require a robust, cumulative and rigorous approach. Sounds-Write provides just such a programme, and our experience has convinced us that a four-day course is what it takes to give our trainees a good understanding of what is involved at both theoretical and experiential levels.
Even when teaching practitioners who have been using approaches such as Letters and Sounds, they are often unclear about how the writing system works in relation to reading. They are also unaware of the significance and importance of the skills needed to teach reading and spelling and the extent of the practice needed by, especially, young children if they are to learn to read and write successfully.
Sounds-Write is uncomplicated by ‘phases’. After completing a Sounds-Write course, practitioners ought to be able to assess exactly what learners need and how to take them forward. It is also ideal for identifying where pupils have fallen behind and how to fill the gaps in their knowledge, understanding and skills. A well-trained teacher ought never to need summative testing procedures because they are able to assess pupils formatively.
Whether teaching whole class, in small groups, or one-to-one, Sounds-Write enables course attendees to return to teaching ready to ‘hit the ground running’.
Our courses cost £430 per person, or thereabouts – there is a little variation in cost from one venue to another, to allow our trainers to factor in differing overheads, such as room hire and travel. This variation is rarely more than plus or minus £30. In a few cases VAT is added; this can of course be reclaimed by schools. The fee covers everything needed to teach the Sounds-Write method: four days of training, a copy of our 300+ page manual, various printed and digital resources, lifetime access to current versions of the latter including new files and updates, and certification.
You will find a list of all the courses we currently have scheduled on the Face-to-face courses programme and Online courses programme pages of this site - new courses are added quite often so it’s worth checking back from time to time if you don’t see one in your area right now. We try to arrange courses to meet demand, thus if there are a number of people at your school who would like to train, but no courses nearby, please get in touch so we can discuss whether a course can be arranged.
When you book a place on one of our courses through this website, you will receive an automatically-generated email from us to confirm that your application has been received. Within seven days you will receive an email from the Sounds-Write trainer who is running the course. Provided places were available when you booked, they will confirm that you have the place or places you requested, and will send joining instructions. Our courses typically run from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm, but this may vary very slightly from one course to another and will be specified in the joining instructions.
You will find material on this website that introduces and explains our basic approach. We do not, however, offer a shorter alternative to our four-day course. We are committed to the principle of rigorous training for all teaching staff, and don’t believe this can be achieved in anything less than the four-day training we offer. For this reason, we do not offer our manual for sale separately. Sounds-Write is a training-based programme, not a materials-based one and therefore we only supply copies of our manual to trainees on our courses; a great deal of interaction is needed for the trainee to really absorb and consolidate our approach, and the manual is therefore an integral part of the course.
At St George’s we have used Sounds-Write for over five years and I cannot recommend it highly enough. We are a National Support School and have visitors from all over the UK and abroad visit the school each year. To a person, they are always astounded by the phonics and spelling they see.
Sarah Collymore, Headteacher, St. George’s CE Primary School
I recommend Sounds-Write to every teacher and school leader I meet. At Floreat we teach Sounds-Write in structured lessons in Nursery and Reception as well as Year 1. We achieve consistently outstanding results and our parents are amazed at how well their children can read and spell.
Janet Hilary, National Leader of Education and Chief Executive Officer, Floreat Education
Sounds-Write has had a significant impact at Princecroft School and is transforming the life chances of our children. From very low starting points the children now make rapid progress in their phonics and by the end of Years 1 and 2 are decoding and reading at standards above their peers nationally.
Michael Park, Headteacher, Princecroft School
Sounds-Write is more than just a scheme for phonics. For Selby Community Primary School it has improved pupils’ self-esteem around reading and writing. Sounds-Write has developed stronger spellers and pupils who transfer their phonics knowledge straight into their written work.
Ian Clennan, Headteacher, Selby Community Primary School
Teachers’ subject knowledge and therefore their confidence with teaching phonics has vastly improved since the implementation of Sounds-Write. The skills taught through the programme are transferable throughout the curriculum with improved reading, writing and spelling from our children.
Lindsay Vollans, Headteacher, St. Michael’s C of E Primary School