The Lovedale Foundation is a charity situated in a small village just outside Bangalore. They have been providing care and a home for children in need for the past ten years. Their new project was to open a free, English-medium school for hostel (cared for) children and the local quarry children. They aim to adopt a more western model of education. They asked me to train the teachers in Sounds-Write the week before the school opened in June, 2011.
There were three teachers and the principal on the course. The school is concentrating on Key Stage 1 to start with, so has just three classes for children aged three and a half to six and a half. The traditional method of teaching English in India is to teach letter names relating to capital letters. The notion of phonics was new to the teachers, so it took a while for them to adjust to this approach. By Day 2 of the course, however, they were beginning to understand the significance of phonics and how it could really help in the teaching of the English Code. Considering English is their second language, it was amazing how soon they picked up the new vocabulary and understood the principles underpinning the Sounds-Write programme. They thoroughly enjoyed practising the lessons on each other and I was very impressed with how competently they completed the final assignment.
On Monday 6th June the school opened its doors to 75 needy children. The quarry children were from migrant families who lived in straw covered tents with no running water or sanitation. They spent their days alone while their parents worked in the quarries. It took the first week for them to adjust to the unfamiliar environment of school. Many of them had little experience of being in a building, let alone being expected to conform to a classroom routine. By the second week, however, the teachers of the older two classes were able to start Unit 1 of the programme. Before I left, they were on Unit 2 and the children were taking to it really well.
I sat in on their lessons and could see that the teachers were really keen and will endeavour to do their best to deliver the programme. I will try to keep in touch by e-mail (which is difficult as internet connection is limited and there is often no power!), to give them support and advice.
Huts where the quarry children lived
Thanks to the generosity of Sounds-Write and Phonics Books who donated several packs of readers, the children have the books to support their learning. They loved the shiny newness of books and the bright colours of the pictures. They were thrilled that they could read the words after only a few days of doing the programme!
New hostel and school provided by a charity organisation
While I was there I was able to speak to other organisations and schools about the programme and they showed great interest. Maybe there will be an opportunity to run another course out there. I would be delighted to return!
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