Fabulous feedback and results from a large FP primary school

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Fabulous feedback and results from a large FP primary school

Post by debbie »

I just received some great news about results at a large primary school - Lord Scudamore - following good use of the Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters as the structured phonics programme.

As the message included a query which is a common concern in England, I thought it would be useful to ask Corinne if I could copy and paste her message and also share the results from the school.

Corinne's original message:

Dear Debbie

About two years ago you came to Hereford to do some phonics training for us at Lord Scudamore school. Since then we have followed Floppy's Phonics as our structured phonics scheme and had amazing results. Last year 93% of our 90 children passed the Phonics Screening check.

We are very keen to build on this and move forward. With the introduction of the New Curriculum in English we have noticed that Year 1 are required to teach suffixes. Previously this has been done in Year2 within Phase 6 phonics. Are you able to advise us as to the best way to put this into our phonics scheme. Will it mean that we have to make changes by just moving things around and when do you think it would be best to teach suffixes in Year 1?

Sorry, lots of questions but we would really appreciate your advice as Floppy's Phonics is producing excellent results and we don't want to spoil things!

I look forward to hearing from you

Best wishes

Corinne Benjamin
My response follows below:
Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by debbie »

Dear Corinne,

How fantastic to hear from you out of the blue - and what amazing results!
I am so thrilled for you and the children (and me and OUP of course) but
really for the children themselves.

In fact, would you be prepared to write some kind of simple report
describing your findings about the programme used in a structured way
-with your subsequent results?

Did the results go up year on year and, if so, what was the sequence of

Now, here is the thing:

When I go to visit schools on consultancy, I often find that they are
getting the kind of results you have described but they are still using
the FP (or Phonics International) programme in a quite partial way - and
not necessarily doing justice to the spelling side of things - and

I don't know whether, for example, you have been doing the 'folding up'
part of the Activity Sheets for the spelling routine - or whether you
routinely provide the Cumulative Texts for children to extend to after the
word level of their Activity Sheets?

Any information you have regarding your typical practice would be so much

Further, what phonics-for-spelling do Key Stage Two follow with?

I ask because the Activity Sheets will get children up and running with
their blending skill, without a shadow of a doubt - and thus they should
do really well with their phonics screening check (which is what I am
finding), but then actually in my view, phonics needs to be revisited for
building up spelling banks in Year Two and in Key Stage Two.

A lot of schools use Floppy's Phonics in Reception and Year One and then
continue with Phonics International as a spelling programme throughout
Year Two - is this something that might be of interest?

Anyway, I digress because you have asked me about suffixes and timing.

Well, my opinion is that Letters and Sounds is very flawed with regard to
its promotion of prefix and suffix work in 'phase six' as if this follows
AFTER learning a comprehensive alphabetic code.

Suffixes are basically about plural endings, verb endings, adverbs and so
on, and these are part of natural language - found in ordinary speech, in
literature and needed for any kind of writing.

Thus, we should really be introducing the notion of these things, as
required, right from Reception in a drip-drip fashion.

It isn't a case of them 'following' 'Phase Five'.

There is a case, however, to revisit the understanding of various suffixes
'again' in a more formal, planned way as appropriate as the children
mature in Key Stage One - and Two if necessary.

In reality, teachers need to be focusing on mentioning such aspects of
language not in a tick box way ('We've covered such and such now) but as a
CONSTANT - they are such an important part of language - spoken and

I hope that makes sense.

Also, it isn't a case of teaching these things 'once' children have
cracked the full alphabetic code - thus teaching some children before
others, the provision of this information should run in parallel with
teaching phonics - just as other aspects of language need to be taught
such as the word classes and aspects of language such as homophones,
punctuation, verbs and their tenses, some common spelling patterns like
doubling letters and dropping the 'e' and adding 'ing' on some words and
so on.

I do hope this helps and has answered your query.

Please do get back to me so that I can hear more about your practice.

It would be a terrible thing if I didn't hear back from schools and visit
schools - I would just be working in a vacuum which would be no good at

As I said, really great to hear from you and keep up the very good work.

All the best,

Then Corinne got back to me and said:
Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by debbie »

Dear Debbie

Thank you so much for getting back to me and so quickly.

Thank you for the advice on teaching suffixes, it makes so much sense when you think about it in practical terms and not just as a paper exercise in planning. I have spoken to our KS1 team and they have taken it on board. I will let you know how we get on.

As a school we have taken all aspects of your scheme on board. We use the activity sheets, cumulative text etc. All of our classes, including KS2 have your alphabetic code posters up in their rooms.

The parents are also on board and love the way the children are learning to read so quickly.

The first year of the phonics screening check we achieved 79% (we had a lot of children joining our school towards the end of year 1 with very little phonic knowledge) and last year we achieved 93%.

As a school we are very proud of this and would be happy for you to use it and name us.

I will work with year 1 to write a report for you and include as much detail as we can about how we use your scheme and the successes.

We had Ofsted last May and I was observed teaching Phonics with my Reception class of 30. I followed your scheme for the whole lesson and received 'Outstanding'.

The Inspector was very impressed and said the children were getting the best start possible.

I will get back to you shortly with a report of our practice.

Thank you for your continued support

Last edited by debbie on Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by debbie »

If I didn't hear from schools and didn't get into schools to visit or to provide a consultancy service, I would be working in a vacuum and that would be no good!

Everywhere I train and talk, I invite people to contact me if they have any queries.

This, after all, is my 'specialism' and I am not having to teach all the other subjects and fulfil the roles that class teachers have to fulfil daily. The chances are high that I shall always be able to offer a practical suggestion, or solution, if teachers or parents have any queries about teaching and learning in the basic literacy skills.

I really do encourage other teachers to contact me with their results.

If you have found an improvement in your teaching and learning in real terms, I urge you to share that information.

My goal is to inform and encourage other teachers, parents, tutors to use the kind of systematic and incidental phonics teaching and practice used in both the Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programme and in Phonics International.

Currently, there is no guarantee that teachers around the world are using the best resources and practices possible to teach children how to read and spell in the English language - and yet English has the most complex alphabetic code in the world.

Not only do these programmes work, they should be exceptionally effective for all the children if only teachers will follow the guidance as described.

I am very grateful to Corinne for sending me this information and for being willing to share it - and further to agree to write a report with her colleagues to share great practice with others.

Please do contact me at debbie@phonicsinternational.com if you would like to share your findings and consider writing a report which will showcase your school.

Many thanks!

:D :D
Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by debbie »

Here is an update from Corinne with the results of the end of Year One phonics screening check:

Dear Debbie,

Sorry for the delay, things a bit hectic at the end of term.

We have sent you some photos and examples of writing that show how well Floppy’s Phonics works as a scheme.

We will collect more evidence in the autumn term, perhaps a starting and finishing point. Hopefully this will include some video footage.

Our Phonics Screening results so far have been

2013/2014 87%

2012/2013 93%

2011/2012 79%

When the results have dipped slightly we have had a huge amount of mobility throughout the year and children coming from different schools and not using Floppy’s Phonics are way behind.

We hope this is useful for you and would love to continue working with you in the autumn term.
Corinne has indeed sent me some great photos. We are currently building a new website dedicated to professional development for the Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programme rather than trying to do everything through our Phonics International website. We shall notify people when the site is up and running.

Meanwhile, feedback from a number of schools commonly describes that generally the children who do not reach or exceed the benchmark for the Year One phonics screening check invariably joined their school long after Reception and they arrive at the school with much weaker phonics knowledge and skills compared to children who have received Floppy's Phonics (or Phonics International) from the beginning of Reception.
Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by debbie »

Fantastic news - we have an Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters site under construction and it is available to access now.

The site will provide ongoing information and free resources for Continuing Professional Development and it also includes an online shop for Oxford Reading Tree resources for those people who tell us they have had difficulty acquiring their Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters resources in their scenario (internationally for example).
Debbie Hepplewhite
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