The Sounds-Write Podcast

Episode 3: Phonics With Fidelity with Naomi Hinton

October 15, 2022
Episode 3: Phonics With Fidelity with Naomi Hinton
The Sounds-Write Podcast
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The Sounds-Write Podcast
Episode 3: Phonics With Fidelity with Naomi Hinton
Oct 15, 2022

In the third episode of The Sounds-Write Podcast, Head of Training Naomi Hinton explains why teaching phonics with fidelity is important and how practitioners can ensure that they put this into practice. Naomi talks about differentiation, scripts, monitoring, interleaving and much more. Thanks for listening!

Some helpful links:
The DfE Reading Framework
Our free courses for parents and carers
John's blog post on teaching phonics whole class
Follow Naomi on Twitter

Show Notes Transcript

In the third episode of The Sounds-Write Podcast, Head of Training Naomi Hinton explains why teaching phonics with fidelity is important and how practitioners can ensure that they put this into practice. Naomi talks about differentiation, scripts, monitoring, interleaving and much more. Thanks for listening!

Some helpful links:
The DfE Reading Framework
Our free courses for parents and carers
John's blog post on teaching phonics whole class
Follow Naomi on Twitter

Laura:  00:02
Hello and welcome to Episode 3 of the Sounds-Write Podcast. I'm the host, Laura, and today I'm joined by Naomi Hinton, who's Head of Training at Sounds-Write. Naomi shares her wealth of expertise in the field of phonics and discusses the importance of teaching phonics with fidelity. She gives advice on how this can be done and covers strategies from differentiation to interleaving and many more. I hope you enjoy the episode. Hello, Naomi, great to have you with us today.

Naomi:  00:34
Great, thank you, Laura. It's great to be here.

Laura:  00:36
Just a quick note for listeners. I've got a bit of a cold at the moment, so I do apologise if you can hear that in my voice. So today we're going to be talking about the steps that practitioners need to take in order to teach Sounds-Write with fidelity. We know anyway that teaching phonics programmes with fidelity is important. For those of you in the UK, though, the DFE highlighted the importance of maintaining fidelity in your phonics programme in the reading framework, which was published earlier this year. So, Naomi, in this episode you're going to be talking to us about how exactly teachers can teach Sounds-Write with fidelity. First off, though, could you tell us a bit about how you first got interested in phonics and what your role is at Sounds-Write.

Naomi:  01:23
So, I guess my interest in language and literacy started when I was studying for my A-levels actually. I took a module on child language acquisition and ended up carrying out a project which involved buying a dictaphone and collecting data from a toddler that I knew. And I remember spending a lot of time asking him to say various words and analysing his speech sounds and I was really fascinated by the sounds he could say and couldn't say and which sounds replaced other sounds. Anyway, from there I went on to uni and studied English language and again chose lots of modules to do with language acquisition, both first and second language acquisition. And from there I toyed with the idea of going into speech therapy, but decided to go into primary school teaching because I was interested in child language and I wanted to be involved in the teaching of early literacy. And now I'm privileged to be working with a multidisciplinary team of Sounds-Write trainers, which includes teachers and speech therapists amongst other professionals. And I'm really fascinated by the role of all these different professions when it comes to literacy teaching and intervention. So anyway, yeah, I trained to be a teacher and I taught and led across the primary age range and during that time I trained to be a Sounds-Write trainer and now here I am. And I'm really fortunate to be working with this incredible team of trainers and training schools in achieving our mission at Sounds-Write, which is to improve the life chances of children by ensuring that they become proficient readers and writers. And we really believe that teachers knowledge is key to achieving our mission. And so we provide evidence informed training for educators to really teach reading and spelling effectively, whether they're in the classroom or an intervention setting.

Laura:  03:18
Yeah, absolutely. I love our team, I love how diverse backgrounds there are and so many different areas of expertise that people bring to the table. It's fantastic.

Naomi:  03:29
Yeah, it really is.

Laura:  03:31
So let's dive into the topic of today's podcast, then. So, could you start us off by explaining what it means to teach a phonics programme with fidelity and why that's important?

Naomi:  03:42
Yeah, well, as you said in the intro, the reading framework that we have over here states that it's important not to confuse children by mixing material from different programmes or across different classrooms. And actually, that's not new advice. The Rose review back in 2006 recommended the same thing, stating that even high-quality programmes founder if they're not applied consistently and regularly. And that report actually said it's unwise to pick and mix from several different programmes because, I mean, these programmes have been written with really carefully planned out sequences of work and planned progression, and if we're not delivering those in the way that they were intended, then they're not going to be as effective as they were designed to be. And with a programme like Sounds-Write, in order for it to be most effective and to have maximum impact on student progress, it must be followed with fidelity. What we are looking for is a consistent approach across the school. If you think about a child entering school in Foundation and then progressing through Year 1, Year 2 and beyond, we're aiming for a smooth transition using a consistent approach so that students can focus on developing the next steps. Whether that is in their code knowledge or their skills development or their understanding of the conceptual framework, we want them to be concentrating on that and not having to learn new methods or understand different language that they're hearing from different teachers.

Laura:  05:17
That makes a lot of sense. Consistency throughout their education, I guess.

Naomi:  05:24

Laura:  05:25
So, Sounds-Write is quite unique amongst other phonic programmes in that we provide lesson scripts for teachers to follow. I guess one of the key and most obvious ways that Sounds-Write practitioners can teach with fidelity is by sticking to the script, right? I mean, in the course I think people will hear over and over and over again, stick to the script!

Naomi:  05:48
They will, yeah. And a big part of the course is practising those scripts.

Laura:  05:52
Yeah. Could you tell us, we've talked actually on the podcast before about the scripts. Could you tell us a bit about the rationale behind it being scripted and how this helps with maintaining fidelity to the programme?

Naomi:  06:06
Yeah, of course. Well, so the scripts have been written and refined over the years based on what is known about how students learn. The scripts include multiple steps for every lesson, and the scripts enable the teacher to ensure that each of those steps is included. For example, in every Sounds-Write lesson, students are both reading and writing. The scripts include not only what the teacher should be saying and how the teacher should be gesturing, but it also states what the students should be doing at each point in the lesson. And the scripts actually enable lots of interaction with the students. They include questions to ask and the anticipated student responses. I always say that the children should be working just as hard as you, if not harder. It's really important to remember these aren't scripts to be performed to an audience. They're scripts to facilitate the interaction. And the scripts have actually also been written with cognitive load theory in mind.

Laura:  07:13
Cognitive load theory. That term again, people who've listened before will know that that's a fan favourite at Sounds-Write.

Naomi:  07:23

Laura:  07:24
Tell us more.

Naomi:  07:27
Okay. So, the scripts progress really slowly and carefully through the learning process. Each step builds on the one before. We're always wanting to make sure that the students are able to focus purely on what it is they're learning and not being distracted by anything else. So the scripts allow for really clear, concise, child-friendly language and actually, really economical language. There is not a single wasted word in those scripts. The children very quickly learn the format of each lesson. So, they know the language, they know the routines, they know how the lesson will go. And that means that they can focus on what it is that they are actually learning and they're not having to second guess how this new activity or new game is going to pan out. Once they know the format of the lesson, and, for example, they know how the Word Building lesson goes. It doesn't matter whether they're in teacher A's classroom or teacher B's class, they're getting the same deal. And when they move from Year 1 to Year 2, for example, that the format of the lesson is the same. And even if their lesson ends up getting covered by, say, the head or the phonics leader that day because their teacher is out somewhere, then people can use the scripts and the lesson can - it's business as usual - the language is the same. I would also argue that it reduces the teacher's cognitive load in the lesson, because it's amazing how very quickly you internalise the steps in the language. So, the biggest bit of advice we give to our trainees on the courses is just learn the script, don't overcomplicate things by trying to add or change anything.

Laura:  09:19
Yeah, I love watching Sounds-Write lessons because you can see that, especially classes who've been doing Sounds-Write for a while, they know exactly what's coming next in the lesson. All they're thinking about is applying the new knowledge, the new sounds that they're being taught in that lesson. Applying that to the few lesson types or activities that Sounds-Write has. It's really cool to watch, I think.

Naomi:  09:48
It is.

Laura:  09:48
Yeah. So, the key there is sticking to the script, right? So, how can teachers make sure that they're doing that?

Naomi:  09:57
Well, like anything, practice. Practice makes permanent. We encourage people to practise together, practise in pairs. I mean, when trainees come on our training courses, whether they come to a face to face course or whether they train online, a big part of the course is practising those scripts and that doesn't stop once you have finished the course. So once you're back in school, you just want to get in there and start teaching. Don't be frightened to start teaching it because you haven't quite mastered the script yet. Get out there and start doing it. But then practise outside of lesson time as well, until you're really confident with the language. A really nice thing to do is to practise in pairs. Buddy up with somebody. One of you can teach the lesson and one of you can kind of be a script monitor and provide a bit of a prompt when you get stuck or deviate. But I would say be kind to yourselves. Do that after school, rather than lesson time. That could be part of a staff meeting or just two of you get together in the classroom after school with a fellow teacher or your teaching assistant so you can support one another in that learning. Another thing you can do is to record yourself. Now, I know that sounds daunting, but it is very effective. Again, be kind to yourself. That doesn't have to be in a lesson. You've got an awful lot going on in a real lesson to think about. So, you could just practise the script after school. You can film yourself if you like, or just use the voice memos on your phone, record yourself and then listen back whilst following the script and you'll soon spot if you've deviated from it at all. Another big one is don't be afraid to hold the script. Teach using the script until you've got the language under your belt. It's far better to teach with the script in your hand than it is to risk kind of deviating away from the script by teaching with your manual closed. All of our trainers model this on the courses, they teach the lessons with the script in hand.

Laura:  12:16
Yeah. And I think something that I can imagine would appeal very much to teachers is, as you said, kind of reducing that cognitive load while you're in the lesson, you can focus on how children are responding because you know exactly what's coming up next. But, what about when things don't go to plan? So what about when students make an error?

Naomi:  12:40
Well, errors are part of the learning process. I mean, if they're not making any mistakes, you really should have moved on by now. Okay, at Sounds-Write, teaching through errors is such a big part of our programme. We know that the interaction between a teacher and a student over an error is where the learning takes place. And for that reason we also have scripted responses to student errors, allowing teachers to provide that little puzzle piece that they might need for them to correct an error for themselves. And actually, as part of the training course, not only do we go through all of the lesson scripts and have trainees practise, but we also go through the kinds of errors that students might make for each lesson as part of the comprehensive training and our trainees have the opportunity to practise how they would teach through those errors.

Laura:  13:36
Yeah, we've got as well, on the help your child to read and write course, which is our free online course for parents and carers, John goes through and demonstrates all of the error corrections, which, those videos are just fantastic. It lays it out so clearly how you would go through and in real time in the classroom correct those errors.

Naomi:  14:00
Yeah, and that is such a fantastic course. If you are hearing about that course for the first time today, please do go and look it up.

Laura:  14:08
Yeah, we'll put it in the show notes below, so everyone can see it. So, it's really important to stick to the lesson scripts, that we know. But how can teachers plan and carry out wider phonics sessions effectively with fidelity in mind?

Naomi:  14:28
Okay, well, so we provide the lesson scripts and the systematic scope and sequence, but it's the teachers who design and deliver their phonics sessions in the classroom each day. And actually they need to think about allowing the seamless transitions between those lessons and managing the energy levels in the room to ensure that students are engaged at all points of the lesson. I'll just clarify, actually, at this point that we had as part of the Sounds-Write programme in the manual, there are 15 lesson scripts, but your phonic session, for example, might be half an hour, and within that you would be teaching a selection of those scripted Sounds-Write lessons. So around three of those scripted lessons you would be doing as part of your half hour phonics session. And that's where, as a teacher, you can be creative and select the lessons that you want to do each day. So it's not like every single lesson is the same every day. So, teachers need to think about which lessons that they're going to choose to go into those sessions. They might start with something high energy and highly interactive, such as a sound swap game, which would involve reviewing previously taught code and practising those all important skills of segmenting, blending and phoneme manipulation. They might then choose to go on to a word building unit, which would be within their current teaching unit. And both of those lessons are quite high energy. Students are involved, saying the sounds and reading the word both chorally and individually, students are coming out to the board. So then towards the end of the session, the teacher might then choose to drop the energy levels a little bit, finishing with something calm, like a dictation where the students are working individually on writing a sentence. And now, it's quite a lot going on there within a half hour session, which means that teachers need to be extremely well prepared ahead of the session in order to move seamlessly between those lessons with no gaps. And when choosing the lessons and the order in which to do them, they need to think about which lessons are teaching new content, which lessons are reviewing previously taught content, and that'll dictate the pace in which the teaching will progress. And that requires the teachers to kind of be thinking not just about each individual lesson, but over the course of the week, over the course of the half term, planning in opportunities for interleaving, coming back to practise things, and all the while collecting their formative assessment data, really, really being knowledgeable about their learners. What can they do? What can't they do? What do they know, what don't they know? And then responding accordingly.

Laura:  17:40
Just before we move on, could you talk about what interleaving is? I've come across the term a couple of times, but I'm not entirely sure what it is.

Naomi:  17:50
Yeah, so interleaving is where you cover more than one objective in a session, so that's harder than covering one thing in depth, but it does aid learning and it has the advantage of being able to come back to objectives at spaced intervals as well.

Laura:  18:10
Right. Okay, so maybe would that, for example, be, you might start off with some revision of sounds that you covered a couple of weeks ago and that would be one of your objectives of the lesson and then you'd go on and cover something else?

Naomi:  18:25
Yeah. Within each half hour phonics session, you would want to be mixing some new content but also reviewing previously taught content. And you might be reviewing something that you taught a lesson ago, or a week ago, or a month ago. And it's really important that you just provide enough opportunity to practise. Now, that could be retrieval practice where students are being asked to retrieve from long-term memory through a quiz or a dictation activity. Or it could be some guided practice where students are practising as a class within the scripted lesson, under the careful watch of the teacher, who is constantly collecting that all important formative assessment data and who is ready to respond.

Laura:  19:12
Yeah, so we've been talking so far about whole class. Well, I guess this could be applied to intervention as well, but generally at Sounds-Write we advocate for a whole-class approach to teaching phonics. And we love the phrase 'keep up, not catch up'. That struggling readers should be provided with the support they need to keep up with their classmates from the very beginning rather than then later on in their primary education, having to play catch-up with their peers. So how can teachers do that whilst maintaining a whole-class approach?

Naomi:  19:54
Okay, well, the key thing for teachers to be considering at all points of their phonic session is differentiation, okay. Sounds-Write is designed to be delivered as a whole-class programme. It can be used for interventions and it's used very successfully as interventions, but it is also designed to be a whole-class programme. And when we talk about differentiation here, we should be thinking about what scaffolding is required to ensure that all children can access what is being taught. We're not talking about putting children into ability groups and then planning separately for those groups. The trouble with ability groups is that they're based on previous performance and not on potential. Therefore, by putting some children together and labelling them a lower ability group, we're putting a ceiling on their learning potential. Equally, putting some children together in a group and labelling them more able, puts quite a lot of pressure on them to maintain the level that they started school at. And all of this is based on their previous performance and neither is fair. If you split the class as well, then the gaps between learners get bigger, that lower ability group falls behind and the 'more-able' group that you've, I'm kind of doing air quotes, not that you can see that on a podcast, but you end up widening the gap between learners and that's really not fair on, well, it's not fair on the learners and it doesn't make life any easier for the teachers. I know I've experienced being the teacher of a less-able group. You haven't necessarily got the ideas flowing around and the peers to inspire one another and really it doesn't do anybody any favours. And therefore we really actively encourage the whole-class teaching of Sounds-Write and not putting children into ability groups.

Laura:  22:07
Yeah. And on the flip side of that, I remember when I was at school, I was in the higher abilities group for science. I remember I was kind of on the lower end of that as well. And I always remember thinking like, we actually go a little bit too quickly for me. I've made it just into this higher ability group, but they're kind of classifying us all as one exact level, which just wasn't accurate. And anyway, we also then used to cover certain topics more in depth than other groups. And again, I thought that was also quite unfair. We were getting all of this extra rich background into the topics that other people weren't getting purely because they'd been judged as lower ability or higher ability. I always thought that was really unfair, actually.

Naomi:  22:57
Yeah, it's not fair and it does even unconsciously affect the kind of expectations that teachers have of the group and, yeah, like you say, it's not fair on anybody, whichever group they end up in.

Laura:  23:09
Yeah, exactly. I guess, though for teachers it might seem quite daunting teaching a class with extremely mixed abilities. So what would be kind of your advice for teachers going into that situation?

Naomi:  23:26
Yeah, so we spend quite a lot of time on the Sounds-Write training looking at this because we recognise that when people come on our courses, they might be coming from a background that has previously taught phonics in quite small ability groups. So actually being told that they're now going to teach whole-class phonics, that can come as a bit of a shock. So we do spend a lot of time looking at how teachers can scaffold within the whole-class teaching to ensure that all children can access the learning. And those children who need a bit more of a challenge get it. One of the ways that you can scaffold within your whole-class teaching then, is to look at the word structure. So, what I mean by that is the number of sounds within a word, okay. And you can use a simpler or more complex word structure, say, than the current unit that the class are working on. So, say, most of the class are working on four-sound words with a CVCC structure. But some children still need to practise three-sound words, so you can put in a three-sound word into your lesson. Equally, if you've got a child who's ready for a bit of a stretch, you could put in a five-sound word with a CVCCC structure. So they could, say, come out and build 'jumps' rather than 'jump', or even pop the adjacent consonant at the beginning and build a word like 'swim', because actually that's harder still. The key with things like that is that the children aren't going to notice that the word structure is different. They'll just see that everybody is involved in a word building lesson or a word reading lesson and they're all able to participate.

Laura:  25:18
And that's so lovely, isn't it? Seeing kids who are maybe struggling a little bit more, being able to succeed at word building in front of their whole class and getting that round of applause and that recognition still, maybe with just a slightly simpler word than other students are capable of.

Naomi:  25:35
Absolutely. And the lesson itself, the language that the teacher is saying, the routines within the lesson are the same. You've just scaffolded with a slightly simpler or more complex word structure. Another thing you can do that is think about the type of sounds that you're using. For example, taking a word with the same structure, CCVC, it's much easier to read the word 'swim' than 'crab', and that's because 'swim' has got those continuant sounds, 'ssswwwiiimmm'. As a teacher, you can really hang on to those sounds to assist with blending, whereas with 'crab' the /k/, once you've said it, it's gone. You can't hang onto it to assist with blending. So actually, using continuants, we call them the teacher's best friend. They really are a great way to scaffold blending, again. Word of warning, though, this is very, very subtle scaffolding and takes a very trained eye or ear, and you might need to be prepared to explain that kind of invisible scaffolding to anybody who you need to explain it to.

Laura:  26:46

Naomi:  26:49
Another more obvious one, then, I suppose, would be the use of lines or gestures. So, if you're familiar with the Sounds-Write programme, you'll know that gesturing is really key and it's indicated in the lesson scripts. And some children will need lots of gesturing, others won't. And ultimately, it would be great if you can stand at the board with your arms folded, but you can always put the gestures in when they're needed. Same with lines underneath the sounds. Some children will need them, some children won't. Some children might get to a point where they don't need the lines with a four-sound word, but when you go to build a five-sound word that you can pop them in. And as a teacher, it's all about being flexible and responsive to the needs of your class, based on that ongoing formative assessment. Another thing that you can do. I mean, you said earlier about how lovely it is to see children coming out to the board and feeling successful. Another thing you can do is really carefully select the order that you choose children to either build a word or read a word. Some children will need to see and hear several good models before they have a go themselves. And you can set them up to be successful by selecting a few children who are going to be successful, allowing that child who might have needed a bit more support to hear it a few times, so that when it's their turn, they're able to give it a really good go and feel successful.

Laura:  28:30
Makes a lot of sense.

Naomi:  28:32
It does, and it's really great for motivation. Success like that breeds motivation. It's great.

Laura:  28:39

Naomi:  28:39
When it comes to writing, I mean, we say that students should be writing as part of every Sounds-Write lesson. You've got options here as well. When students are writing the word, are you going to leave the word up for students to copy? Are you going to rub it out? Are you going to perhaps leave that new piece of code knowledge up or not? Are you going to have it written on a mini whiteboard that you can just show it to certain children who might need it? Again, these are all really easy bits of scaffolding that teachers can decide in the moment based on their ongoing formative assessment about what support they are going to provide for certain children. When it comes to writing, think really carefully about how you provide for any students who might have additional needs. It's tempting to kind of say, I'm often asked, 'Oh, if you've got children who struggle with writing, do they need to do the writing bit of the lesson?' And actually, the children who struggle with writing need to be practising that writing just as much, if not more. But there are things that you can do, whether that is overwriting. For example, you could write it on their whiteboard in a pale colour and have them trace over it, handholding, deploying - if you're lucky enough to have a TA in your class to handhold as they write. Nonverbal children can still participate here, perhaps having an adult sat with them who will say the sounds as the child does the writing themselves. So, there's lots of different ways that you can scaffold to keep your class together and it might require a new mindset and a new way of thinking. John's actually written a really great blog post about this about whole-class phonics teaching. I'm sure we can probably pop a link to that in the show notes as well.

Laura:  30:37
Yeah, absolutely. On the note of additional needs, we work with a school in Ghana called Multikids Academy who have a lot of students in their cohort who have additional needs. It's so exciting to see teachers who are really well versed on teaching these students and who also combine that with Sounds-Write, using all these extra methods to help individual children along in a group lesson, they're able to differentiate in that way. Spend time, go around the classroom and support those children. Yeah, for example, like handholding whilst writing or writing it really big in the air with the child, things like that. It's really cool to see actually that intersection of those two skills.

Naomi:  31:33
Yeah, it is. And like I say, if you are fortunate enough to have a teaching assistant in your phonics lesson, you can really use their skills to support. If you've got a child or a group of children who might need that little bit of extra support, have them sat somewhere where they've got an additional adult who can be supporting them, it's really important that they are in the main-class teaching.

Laura:  31:57
Yeah, I guess there's always though, going to be children who need extra help. So whether that be, for example, a Year 2 class who've never done Sounds-Write before and they're coming in and there's a couple of kids who are really behind their peers or have these big gaps in their knowledge. So, what can teachers do with students like that who need that extra help?

Naomi:  32:25
Oh, absolutely, yeah. We know that not all children march in step together and some students will require more practice than others and we know that interventions will be necessary. But what I would urge you to think about is be creative with your adults and your timetabling to facilitate those one-to-one or small-group interventions taking place outside of the main phonics lesson. Don't take those children out of the phonics lesson with their peers because they're never going to catch up with their peers if their peers continue to move on without them. So it's really important that these students must be present in the main-class lessons so they are immersed in the learning of their peers and hearing all those great examples, otherwise, how will they ever catch up? So, yeah, absolutely. We know that some children will require interventions, but please do them outside of the phonics lesson.

Laura:  33:27
That's that 'keep up, not catch up' again.

Naomi:  33:31
Well, yeah, I mean, regardless whether it's a keep-up or a catch-up intervention. So, I'll just clarify the difference there. So, a keep-up intervention would be like an early intervention. You've identified somebody or a group of children who may fall behind their peers, you're recognising that they're going to need a little bit more practise, so you run keep-up interventions before they fall behind. Whereas a catch-up intervention would be, say you've got a student who's got gaps in their knowledge, they've already fallen behind their peers, and whether it's a keep-up or a catch-up intervention, it's still important that those interventions take place outside of the main phonics lesson. And whoever is doing those interventions must be a Sounds-Write trained practitioner. I always say that these children who are in those catch-up interventions really need and really deserve the most skilled practitioners. So please make sure that whoever's doing your interventions is a Sounds-Write trained practitioner. And whether the content of the lesson is for keep-up or catch-up.

Laura:  34:45
Right. One of our recent case studies that we did, actually, I can't remember if I talked about this in the last podcast, but they were doing extra sessions for students who needed some extra help before and after school. And they kind of put it as, like a really exciting, you're invited, you've got a special invitation to Phonics Club. And these students were so excited to be able to come to Phonics Club as well as obviously taking part in their whole-class sessions.

Naomi:  35:17
Oh, that's wonderful. Yeah. And like you said, if they're doing a little bit of phonics intervention before school, perhaps that's pre-teaching, something that's going to be taught to the whole class later that day. It really then sets those children up to feel successful when the whole class are doing that same learning later that day.

Laura:  35:35
Yeah, exactly. I'll put the link to that below, actually, because it's such a sweet read, really.

Naomi:  35:41
Oh, great. Okay, yes. So, on that note, with interventions. What you cover in those interventions, it could be recapping the same lesson that happened earlier in the day. And actually, one of the great things about the Sounds-Write lesson scripts is that whilst you have the main class script on the front, on the reverse of those plans, there's some follow-up lessons which mean that you can teach the same lesson but with a slightly varied presentation. And I would often go to those follow-up lessons for my interventions so that the children are not feeling like they're doing exactly the same thing. Whilst you might be pre-teaching or recapping something that's happened in the main class teaching, you can be presenting it slightly differently. Equally, your interventions, you could be working on something entirely different. For example, you might have a Year 2 child who is learning, working their way through the Extended Code as part of their whole-class teaching, but actually you have identified, possibly through doing a diagnostic assessment, that they need to really be practising those key skills. And so you would be doing an intervention, a one-to-one intervention, probably at a different time of the day, where they're actually working in the Initial Code, to really practise what they need to be practising. So actually they're having whole-class phonics teaching of the Extended Code with their peers and then later in the day they're doing some Initial Code intervention. So the interventions are tailored to what the child needs. But I think the key message from everything I've said here is that regardless of whether it's a keep-up or a catch-up, these interventions need to be taking place outside of the whole-class teaching so that the children can always be present in the whole-class lesson.

Laura:  37:49
Fantastic. So, we've talked about some of the steps that practitioners can take to teach Sounds-Write with fidelity. I know you wanted to talk a bit about how you can monitor this and how you can make sure that it is, in fact, being taught with fidelity. So take it away on that if you want to talk about that for a little bit.

Naomi:  38:10
Yeah, of course. I mean, it's really important to ensure consistency in the use of your Sounds-Write lessons across the school. Therefore, some form of monitoring is essential. We need to aim for a consistency of the approach of the language being used and of the lessons. But it's really important that this is done positively and collaboratively. It's a 'done with' and not a 'done to'. So, when I'm talking about monitoring, I'm not talking about formal observations with the headteacher or the phonics leader sitting there with a notepad. I'm talking about creating a culture where staff feel really safe to practise and to learn and improve without judgement. And actually, it's really great if leaders can be involved in that process as participants rather than as traditional observers. I mean, I'm really fortunate to work with some great Sounds-Write training schools and actually headteachers who are really willing to take part in monitoring activities like this, like taking part in lesson studies as a participant, or, say as a school they've decided that they're going to film one another teaching a lesson. Actually, if they put themselves forward to do that too, it really helps to create that culture where everyone feels safe to learn without judgement.

Laura:  39:42
Yeah, I guess that's a huge part of the monitoring process, right. Is teachers being given the space and time to practise the lessons, to practise those scripts, to develop their skills, to work with other teachers, get feedback. So how can schools kind of do this, implement this?

Naomi:  40:03
Yeah, I mean, it's so important that it's a really positive process. One thing you can do is any kind of observations, make them peer observations, buddy up and watch a lesson and discuss it afterwards and do that peer-to-peer in a really, kind of, friendly way, rather than you feeling like you're being observed by somebody who's then going to give you some kind of formal feedback. But just what I would say is beware of the cognitive load of doing that in a real lesson. I mean, when you're teaching, you're responding to real children in real life and so-and-so needs a tissue or their pens run out. I mean, like, stuff happens, that means that you can't necessarily just be concentrating on the script. So, what you can do is to do these kind of peer observations outside of lesson time. I think I mentioned this earlier, actually, when we were talking about the script was like, buddy up with one another, teach a lesson, but without a room full of children and have somebody else following the script and prompting where necessary. A really nice thing that you can do in school, though, is nominate somebody to be a phonics champion. I know traditionally in schools you might have had an English subject leader, but actually we're finding more and more so that schools are dedicating one person to focus on phonics and we're calling them phonics champions. And those are those people who can observe, give feedback, maybe coach some staff, provide some planning support, be that go to person if you need to ask a question about word choices or how a word is coded or broken into syllables, it's great to have one person in school championing phonics who you can go to.

Laura:  42:02
Fantastic. Is there anything else that you think is important in terms of ensuring Sounds-Write is taught with fidelity? Anything we've not covered yet?

Naomi:  42:14
I mean, I would guess just, it's really important that you've got a whole school buy in. If you want phonics to be taught with fidelity across the school, it's really important that everyone's on board. We actually offer a free place on our training courses for head teachers when they're training staff in their school, because we know that the programme will be more successfully implemented if the head fully understands the ins and outs of the programme.

Laura:  42:41
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I guess in terms of continuity throughout the school, it's really important that students continue to receive Sounds-Write lessons. The job is not necessarily done and dusted at the end of Year 2, right?

Naomi:  42:58
No, absolutely. I mean, as well as having that kind of buy in from the whole school in the head, sometimes it can be the teachers in older year groups who might require a little bit of convincing when it comes to teaching phonics beyond Year 1 or Key Stage 1. Perhaps they have an idea that phonics is a bit babyish. But having taught Sounds-Write in Year 6 for many years, and having taught on our Year 3-to-6 course, I can assure you that's not the case. Fortunately, these days I think the case for teaching phonics throughout the school is much more widely accepted. And actually that is less of a problem.

Laura:  43:33
Yeah, because Sounds-Write, I think, is a little bit different to some of the other phonics programmes that use, for example, lots of flashcards or rhymes or little songs and things like that, which could potentially put slightly older learners off. But we don't have that kind of thing. So I think it does make it quite suitable for learners of any age, doesn't it?

Naomi:  43:56
Oh, absolutely, yeah. Sounds-Write is an approach to the teaching of reading and spelling, and doesn't matter whether your learner is 4 or 14 or 44, the code they need to learn and the skills they require and the conceptual understanding they need to grasp is the same. But perhaps that's a topic for another podcast. We've been here a while now.

Laura:  44:16
We have indeed. Well, this has been really good. Thank you so much, Naomi. So let's just do a little recap for listeners. You know, we don't want them to have got overloaded and forgotten some of the stuff in this podcast. So, some of the most important ways that you've talked about today of ensuring Sounds-Write is taught with fidelity are sticking to the lesson script, making sure you've got that script down and practised, designing lessons really carefully, being able to combine different lesson scripts all in one session, considering and practising differentiation throughout lessons, monitoring the fidelity of the programme and finally, what you just talked about, which was ensuring whole-school buy in. And I think one of the golden threads of what you've talked about is knowing the programme really well, knowing those scripts, knowing that content like the back of your hand, practising error corrections and reflecting on your teaching. Knowing it well enough that you can critique your practice and go back and know where to improve.

Naomi:  45:32
Yeah, absolutely.

Laura:  45:34
Fantastic. Thank you so much, Naomi. It's just great to hear from you and gain insights from your wealth of knowledge that you have on this subject.

Naomi:  45:46
Great. Thank you for inviting me. It's been a pleasure.

Laura:  45:48
I hope we can do it again very soon. Bye.

Naomi:  45:52