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Meet the team

John Walker, founder and CEO

John is the founder and CEO of Sounds-Write and one of the co-authors of the programme.

John has been a qualified teacher, university lecturer and teacher trainer for over thirty years, teaching English language and literature in many different countries and settings. 

He trains practitioners in Sounds-Write and promotes the Sounds-Write programme in schools and other educational institutions across the world.

John is an enthusiastic edu-blogger, who posts regularly on all aspects of literacy teaching at his site theliteracyblog.com.

Naomi Hinton, Head of Training

Since qualifying as a teacher in 2010, Naomi taught and led across the primary age range in two National Support Schools. She was an Assistant Headteacher in London before moving to Yorkshire where she taught phonics in KS1 and KS2, both in the classroom and as an intervention. Naomi provides regular support for KS2 teachers using the Sounds-Write approach in their teaching of reading and spelling.

Naomi has a First Class Honours degree in English Language from Newcastle University, where she chose to study child language acquisition and history of the English language alongside core linguistics modules in phonology, morphology and syntactic structure. She lives in York with her husband and two young daughters. 

Tita Beaven, Director of e-learning and Innovation

Tita has a background in e-learning and is the designer and author of many teaching resources, including some of the Sounds-Write books and the Sounds-Write online courses. 

She holds a doctorate in Educational Technology, and for over 25 years was an academic at The Open University - UK, where she designed online and distance courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

Anna Comas-Quinn, Head of Research and Development

Anna has a doctorate in education and spent nearly three decades working in academia, most recently as a senior lecturer at The Open University, UK. She researches and publishes on education and language learning and has co-edited three collections of case studies by education practitioners. She is the editor of Systematic synthetic phonics: case studies from Sounds‐Write practitioners (2022).

Kelly Cross, Head of Business

Kelly is Head of Business at Sounds-Write and is responsible for the operational and business management aspects of the company. Kelly started her career after graduating from university with a Degree in Sociology with Law. Her first job was at Orange working as a Bid Manager, responding to tenders and negotiating contracts for their largest corporate customers. She continued her career in Bid Management for over 20 years and at the point of leaving BT in November 2021, she was a team manager managing a team of 15.

Kelly is passionate about Sounds-Write having seen the benefits first hand with her son who has Moderate Learning Difficulties and who learnt to read and write using the Sounds-Write program.

Hazel Church, Course Manager

Hazel is the Course Manager at Sounds-Write, and looks after the production and updating of our online courses.

Hazel has worked in distance education for over 14 years and has a Masters in Online Distance Education from The Open University, UK.

She was awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy when working at The Open University and was also a member of the team who were winners of the 'Innovative/Original Approach to Teaching' scholarship award in 2020.

She is passionate about online learning and the opportunities it can provide for learners to extend and develop their skills

Jill Nunez, Business Manager (USA/Canada)

As Business Manager for the US and Canada, Jill is responsible for business development and supports existing schools and practitioners who are implementing Sounds-Write in those countries. 

Jill has over 18 years of educational experience in elementary and middle schools. She most recently served as an instructional design strategist and coach at a STEAM magnet school.

Jill's passion is empowering educators with the knowledge to bridge the gap between the science of reading and culturally responsive classroom practice to improve equitable literacy outcomes for students. 

Jill holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Masters' Degrees in Educational Psychology and Educational Administration from the University of Iowa. 

 

Caroline Hardisty, in-house trainer, UK

Caroline is an in-house trainer at Sounds-Write, where she supports newly-trained practitioners. She taught across the primary age range for 18 years and spent 7 years as English Lead with particular responsibility for the development of early reading and writing.

After completing her Sounds-Write training she was responsible for overseeing the successful implementation of the programme throughout her school. She firmly believes that Sounds-Write is the best approach to ensure that all of our children can learn to read and write. 

Donna Smith, in-house trainer

Donna qualified as a primary teacher in 2006 and worked in a North Yorkshire school teaching Key Stage 1 before being seconded to work for the Local Authority as an e-learning consultant.  She then moved to Durham and was a Deputy Head Teacher for twelve years.  During this time, she taught in Nursery, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 as well as wearing lots of other hats.  She was the Phonics Champion, is passionate about early reading and thinks that Sounds-Write is the very best phonics training available.  Donna rolled out Sounds-Write in Nursery, KS1 and KS2 at her school. 

She has a degree in Anthropology, a Masters in Education and is currently completing an MBA.

Emma Darwin, in-house trainer, UK

Emma is one of the in-house trainers at Sounds-Write, where she provides support to schools and runs some of our specialist courses.

Emma trained with John Walker in 2015 and, before joining Sounds-Write, as an experienced early years and lower primary teacher, she saw the amazing results that the Sounds-Write programme gave to the pupils   Emma was the phonics leader in her previous school and supported the delivery of the programme throughout EYFS/KS1 and the intervention groups into KS2.  Emma is passionate about ensuring no child is left behind on their reading and writing journey, and believes Sounds-Write is the perfect programme to achieve this.

Emily McColgan, in-house assistant trainer

Emily's originally from North Belfast and spent 10 years living and working in London. In 2021, she relocated back to the Emerald Isle to the sunny coastal town of Bangor. She studied English Literature at Kingston University and a PGCE at Roehampton University. Emily spent 5 years in London working at St George's CofE primary school, one of the Sounds-Write Training Schools in the UK, where she was a literacy teacher in Year 6.

Emily is an in-house assistant trainer at Sounds-Write, where she supports newly-trained practitioners and those teaching phonics in Y3-6. When she's not working you will either find her reading a good book, baking or taking a stroll on the beach. 

Alison Perry, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Alison is a speech pathologist and Sounds-Write Trainer with over 10 years of experience working with preschool and school-aged children with communication, literacy and learning difficulties. She is the owner of Soundality, a private speech pathology practice in Brisbane, Queensland.

Since training with John Walker in 2013, Alison has seen the success of the Sounds-Write program in a range of setting, including her own individual and small group therapy sessions. She is a popular and passionate Sounds-Write presenter and has trained hundreds of teachers, parents, tutors and speech pathologists across Australia in this highly effective approach to teaching reading and spelling. Alison has an engaging manner and a knack for explaining complex ideas in simple ways.

 

Ashraf Samsudin: Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Ashraf is the Specialist Education Consultant at SPELD Victoria, where he provides, coordinates and develops the organisation’s Educational Services. Based in Melbourne, Ashraf presents a wide variety of workshops, in which his presentation style has been described as clear, engaging and fun. He enjoys facilitating sessions where knowledge, experiences and good practice can be shared amongst those that he trains.

When Ashraf isn’t presenting, he is listening to classical music, enjoying chocolate and chai lattes, and exploring his new home in Melbourne with his family.

Charlotte MacKechnie, Sounds-Write Trainer (UK)

Charlotte has a BA (Hons) in Primary Teaching from Kingston University, a Master of Arts in Educational Practice from the University of Roehampton, and she's currently reading for a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, University of London. 

Charlotte has been a teacher for the STEP Academy Trust since 2014 and has used Sounds-Write in Reception, Year 1 and upper Key Stage 2. She now works for the STEP Ahead Teaching School Hub as Senior Lead for Teacher Development, and she is a specialist leader of education for phonics, English and leadership of CPD.



 

Derrie Clark, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

Derrie is an experienced chartered child and educational psychologist, specialising in literacy and behaviour. She completed her professional doctorate in early literacy instruction, assessment and intervention. Her interest in literacy arose as a result of countless referrals for children struggling to develop literacy skills.

She came across Sounds-Write at its inception in 2003 while searching for an evidence-based approach, and saw its success both from teacher reports and a small scale Year 1 study, in the schools she had recommended it to. Derrie became a Sounds-Write trainer in 2005 to meet the increasing and continuing demand from schools for the training.

Helen Hampton, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Her interest in literacy and linguistic phonics stemmed from working with her severely dyslexic daughter fifteen years ago.  In 2011, realising the lack of local specialist literacy support for families in similar circumstances, she set up a tutoring service to support primary and secondary students struggling to acquire literacy skills. 

Since completing her training with John Walker in Perth 2013, she has been using Sounds Write in her practice to successfully tutor individual students on a weekly basis. 

Based in Margaret River, Helen delivers Sounds Write courses across the South West region of Western Australia and other remote regional areas.  She also provides post training coaching to schools and other education professionals.

In addition to her literacy experience, Helen has an extensive background in adult vocational education, industry training and management.

James Lyra, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

James Lyra is a Sounds-Write trainer and a registered early childhood teacher and paediatric occupational therapist. He has held roles as a classroom teacher, an occupational therapist and as literacy specialist and curriculum coordinator at one of the largest high schools in Western Australia (Enrolment of 2300+ students). James currently resides in Canberra, ACT, where he teaches part-time and runs his private practice - FIRST Occupational Therapy. 

The complementary nature of his qualifications, broad professional experience and current use of Sounds-Write (both in his teaching role and clinical work) enables James to bring a comprehensive perspective to his Sounds-Write training courses. James has a strong ability to communicate effectively and provide engaging professional learning that is well-timed and paced. He can facilitate discussions while incorporating participant perspectives, which promote the rigorous exchange of ideas.

Jo Ball, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

 Jo is a Sounds-Write Trainer and Co-coordinator of the DSF Park Literacy Clinic. As a specialist Literacy teacher and advocate of evidence-informed practice, Jo has a long career leading and coaching curriculum teams in schools in the UK and in different Australian States. She has extensive experience and training in a number of writing programs, including The Writing Revolution and Talk for Writing, and has used the Sounds-Write program in both classroom and therapeutic settings to develop students' reading and spelling skills. 

Kerry Williams, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Kerry Williams is a Sounds-Write trainer and is Director of Education and Professional Learning at SPELD SA in South Australia. 

Kim Bloor, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Kim is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist with extensive experience delivering professional learning to schools throughout Western Australia.

She has worked at DSF since 2010 and is a popular Sounds-Write trainer. As a senior psychologist at DSF, Kim supervises clinical staff, and regularly consults with families and teachers. Since completing her Sounds-Write training, Kim has been using the program with students and regularly works with school staff on the implementation of Sounds-Write at a classroom and school level. 

Kylie Power, Sounds-Write trainer, (Australia)

Kylie Power is an experienced primary school teacher with a passion for teaching reading. She has worked extensively with students at Speld QLD, engaging small groups and individual students in the Sounds-Write program. Kylie has also had the role of Education Advisor for the past four years at Speld QLD, sharing her knowledge of evidence-based programs and teaching practices with parents, teachers and allied professionals. Kylie joined the dedicated team of Sounds-Write trainers in 2021.

Lala Worrall, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

Lala has 35 years’ experience teaching in Primary, Special and Secondary education, working as a class teacher, specialist SEN teacher and SENCo. Her current position is as an advisory teacher for Inclusion, working for the Targeted Educational Support Service in Wigan. For the past 14 years she has supported teachers, TAs, pupils and parents in this role.

She also manages the Specialist Teaching Team and has ensured that all teachers and Teaching assistants use this programme as their primary method in teaching children to read and write. In addition, she runs and co-ordinates Sounds-Write courses within Wigan Authority. Lala feels privileged to have the opportunity to deliver Sounds-Write training in Wigan schools, and also to support staff in establishing good working practice in the Sounds-Write method following their initial training.

Lisa Watts, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Lisa has a Masters in Educational and Developmental Psychology, as well as a Dip. Ed.

Before joining DSF Lisa worked for the Western Australia Department of Education and managed a team of Psychologists, Teachers and Education Assistants who supported and planned for students with complex educational needs. This included mentoring teachers and providing consultations for whole school and classroom planning.

Lisa has been utilising synthetic phonic programs remedially for over seven years, and uses Sounds-Write with the students she tutors. She has seen the positive impact of the programme on struggling students. 

Liza Hutton, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Liza is a Speech Pathologist and a Sounds-Write Trainer at DSF Literacy and Clinical Services in Perth, Western Australia. She enjoys working with teachers, speech pathologists and other professionals keen to make a difference in the areas of language, literacy, and learning. Liza is an experienced primary school teacher and has extensive experience across all three tiers of literacy instruction and intervention, from whole class teaching through to small group clinical intervention. In addition to running courses in Sounds-Write, Liza conducts assessments, delivers individual therapy sessions, and works in schools supporting teachers in the areas of language and literacy development.

Louise McMullan, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

A native of Leeds, Louise McMullan currently lives and works in Northern Ireland.  She is married and has three teenage girls.  She has been a qualified teacher for twenty years and a Sounds-Write trainer for the past seven years.  She is the only Sounds-Write trainer in Ireland and organises Sounds-Write courses both north and south of the border.   As well as organising  and leading Sounds-Write courses and school based trainings, Louise teaches two days each week in a large primary school and two days each week for the education authority, working with dyslexic children, 1:1.  After school, Louise uses the Sounds-Write programme to teach children struggling with literacy to read and write in private tutorials (with an interested parent present), at her home. 

Maureen McDaniell, Sounds-Write trainer (Australia)

Maureen’s experience as a teacher has been varied since she graduated in 1973. As a high school teacher she witnessed the decline in literacy standards over the decades and when she decided in 2011 to specialise in teaching literacy she sought a programme that would provide primary school students with their best prospects for success – Sounds Write.  Following her studies at Curtin University Maureen was introduced to the Sounds Write programme.

As a graduate from the first Sounds-Write training in Western Australia in 2013 Maureen rapidly found she was in demand in the South-West region of Western Australia.

Now, as an experienced practitioner and trainer, Maureen brings to her Sounds Write training a practical, in-depth understanding of the challenges facing teachers and parents in delivering effective literacy programmes in schools and at home.

Maureen has also been a determined advocate for the promotion and effective implementation of Sounds-Write in the South West region of Western Australia and works closely with teachers and parents to support the post training implementation of the programme.

Pam Heath, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

A Sounds-Write trainer for about 12 years, Pam has had considerable experience both as a teacher and as a Local Authority Advisor. During her teaching career she taught in both the primary and secondary phases and held a range of leadership roles, including that of SENDCo.  

Pam’s roles within Local Authorities included assessing individual pupils and providing guidance to schools on meeting the needs of those with literacy difficulties. She has also delivered and marked the National SENCO Award. Most recently Pam worked in a School Improvement Team as a School Improvement Advisor, Phonics, SEND and Vulnerable Pupils Lead. She was responsible for supplying support and challenge to schools, including special schools, around standards, OFSTED inspection and the development of practice. Improving phonics outcomes at all levels was one aspect of Pam’s work.

 

Sarah Horner, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

Sarah Horner is an experienced teacher and literacy trainer. She has taught in a variety of situations, across the primary and secondary ranges, both in England and overseas. This experience includes class, group and individual teaching. Over the past eight years she has combined teaching children with reading difficulties with the training of teachers and support staff in a linguistic phonics approach to reading. She supplies Sounds-Write training in a range of settings across London.

Sarah Walker, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

Sarah is passionate about books and teaching children to read, and works in a small village school in Leicestershire. She is a Specialist Leader in Education and an Evidence Leader in Education for Learn Academies Trust, working with schools to develop and maintain high quality, research informed practice in their settings. Sarah is an experienced Sounds-Write practitioner and has led phonics and English in large and small schools. She has recent experience of supporting schools who are implementing Sounds-Write as a new scheme.

 

Sheila Mulvenney, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

Sheila started her career as a nurse and health visitor before completing a degree and teaching, initially in further education, where she was shocked at the number of students who had spent 10 years in education yet couldn’t read. She later worked in specialist schools teaching individuals and small groups using Sounds-Write and has continued to work with individual students on a private basis.

Sheila has also taught English to numerous speakers of other languages incorporating Sounds-Write where appropriate, especially with ESOL learners, many of whom are not literate in their first language, and she has seen how effective the Sounds-Write programme is with a range of different learners.  She now spends most of her time training teachers, school staff and other professionals in phonics and other areas related to vulnerable children.

Sue Russell, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

Sue graduated from Northampton University (UCN) with a First Class BAQTS specialising in English and taught in several Northampton schools before delivering the Parent Support Advisor and Extended Services Agendas for Northants Council. In 2011 she discovered Sounds-Write and became a trainer which she combined with working for Bournemouth Council as a SENDIASS Officer.  Now working solely as a Sounds-Write Trainer, Sue has trained over 2,000 trainees. 

'Thanks for such an engaging course and we're genuinely excited to go into school and share our learning with our classes!   You're so full of knowledge and your passion is inspiring.'  Milldown Academy

Theresa Plummer, Sounds-Write trainer (UK)

 

Theresa was a Specialist Senior teacher who implemented Sounds-Write at St George’s CE Primary School in London.  She had responsibility for early reading, writing and phonics for over 20 years. At St George’s she developed her practice as a Sounds-Write teacher, responsible for ensuring that all children achieved age-appropriate reading, writing and spelling by the age of 7.

Theresa is an experienced Sounds-Write Trainer and is also a Phonics Auditor for the English Hubs. She runs training courses in London and around the country.

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