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Sounds-Write practitioner training – face-to-face course

For details of when and where these courses run, and how to book, see the Face-to-face courses programme. There is also an online version of this course.

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:

  • a theoretical overview of the programme, which is soundly based on the principles underlying how children learn most effectively and explains why many of the approaches, current and past, to the teaching of reading, spelling and writing fail such a large number of our pupils
  • a discussion of assessment for the purpose of informing our teaching practices and enabling teaching practitioners to accurately gauge where to start pupils in the programme for intervention purposes
  • all the main lessons in our programme, with supervised practice on each one
  • an introduction to teaching through errors, with practical workshops, lesson planning and reading in text
  • videos of the programme being taught to a whole class, small groups and individually
  • a discussion of the most popular reading schemes and how the Sounds-Write teaching approach can be used to enable children to read them successfully
  • a guided assignment at the end of the course to help participants reflect on, organise and consolidate what has been covered in the course

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.

Why does the course take four days?

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.

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