The UK Reading Reform Foundation was founded in 1989 by Mona Mcnee. A secondary teacher, Mona first became aware of the Reading Debate when, after he had failed to learn at school, she taught her Down Syndrome son to read using the simple phonics programme she devised herself and a then deeply unfashionable phonics based reading scheme.
While the group Mona founded campaigned for the use of explicit phonics based methods of teaching reading in the UK (largely, at that time, based on common sense application of the out of fashion phonics instruction of a previous generation) the international research community was producing study after study which cast doubts on the efficacy of ‘look and say’ /Whole Word methods of reading instruction by confirming that knowledge of letter/sound correspondences in used in conjunction with automatic sounding out and blending skills were the attributes of skilled readers while the strategies of guessing from initial letters, context and pictures (the then educationally ‘orthodox’ strategies) were practised by poor readers.
The UK RRF has always been a lobbying and campaigning body but its work was brought to the attention of a much wider audience when the RRF website was set up in 2001. The website has been a vehicle for passing on information on all aspects of the teaching of reading and, through its lively message forum, has been the means of bringing together a truly international community of teachers, parents, education professionals, and any interested parties, for discussion, debate and support.
The RRF committee oversees the work of the RRF. Its members all have an interest in the effective teaching of reading and most of them are directly involved in teaching or tutoring children.
RRF Committee Members..
Co-author of Jolly Phonics and a retired Infant teacher. She taught in a Primary School, in Lowestoft, where the method of teaching reading and writing was originally 'look and say'. When this method was changed to a synthetic phonics approach far higher results were achieved, with the boys doing as well as the girls and far fewer children in special needs. In 1990 Sue met the publisher, Christopher Jolly. This was the start of Jolly Phonics. Since then Sue has campaigned for synthetic phonics through the RRF and her Jolly Phonics training sessions.
An independent, remedial reading tutor. She uses the Sound Reading System, an evidence-based, linguistic phonics intervention programme. She runs her own website www.dyslexics.org.uk
, which is a comprehensive guide to ‘dyslexia’ and the teaching of reading, aimed at parents.
Has worked with all age groups as a classroom teacher for thirty years, before discovering Jolly Phonics and the inspiring progress children make with good synthetic phonics teaching. Now she teaches children with reading difficulties, trains teachers and gives advice about the teaching of reading in the UK and abroad. She is determined to do whatever she can to improve the teaching of reading for all children.
A Literacy Intervention tutor at a secondary school in the North East of England. Having been trained in ‘other methods’ she found that synthetic phonics produced the best and most consistent results with struggling readers aged 11+. She would, however, dearly like to see her job made obsolete by the universal implementation of good synthetic phonics teaching in Early Years and KS1.
Trained as an educational psychologist, has taught at secondary level for 35 years. Jim is manager of the Special Education Unit, De La Salle High school in Downpatrick, N. Ireland.
Dr. Marlynne Grant
Chartered educational psychologist and author of the high quality phonics programme, Sound Discovery.
Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida. She is the author of over 100 research papers and several books including: Why Children Can’t Read, Penguin 1997, Growing a Reader from Birth, W.W. Norton, 2004, Early Reading Instruction, MIT Press, 2004 and Language Development and Learning to Read, MIT Press, 2005.
Her major contribution to the field of reading instruction is the first comprehensive analysis of the English alphabet code from a ‘sound’ base (1991).This has made it possible to greatly simplify the teaching of reading. In her recent books, which review over 100 years of applied research, McGuinness set out to discover a ‘Prototype’- a set of principles which reflect the features of literacy instruction that work versus those that don’t. Applied, they will guarantee success in learning to read and spell. This has made it possible to greatly simplify the teaching of reading.
Diane McGuinness lives in Oxfordshire and is at present chairman of the "Our Right to Read Trust", founded by Fiona Nevola at the end of 2004.
has been a primary and middle school classroom teacher in both the public and independent sectors for over thirty years and Head of the English department in two schools over a 10 year period. Throughout her teaching career she has been aware of the confusion about how to teach reading and spelling and witnessed the struggles of many children. Despite her interest in this area she was unable to make a significant difference. It was only after reading Diane McGuinness’, Why Children Can’t Read in 1998 and being introduced to a new way of teaching ( Phono- Graphix ™: C and G McGuinness) that successfully taught children to read and spell, she decided to leave the classroom and devote all her energies to the teaching of reading. She trains teachers on independent trainings in Oxford, and for schools, special schools, academies, FE Colleges and YOIs, in the Sound Reading System, developed by Fiona and based on the findings of Diane McGuinness.
is deputy head of a primary school in East London. Lesley became an NLS Literacy consultant in the early days of the National Literacy Strategy but became disillusioned with the role, when she felt that the NLS was promoting flawed methods of teaching reading, and returned to teaching. The school she now works in promotes a rigorous, whole-school approach to the teaching of synthetic phonics and was judged to be Outstanding in its recent Ofsted inspection.
was formerly a children's book editor. On early retirement, she completed a year-long, part-time SpLD course after which she radically altered direction, retraining as a Synthetic Phonics tutor. She now runs Piper Books, publishers of a unique phonics-based reading scheme. She is a Trustee of "Our Right to Read".
Tami first became interested in Phonics when she saw how some pupils in her inner city class were failing to make progress in reading. After a number of years teaching EAL pupils, she trained in Specific Learning Difficulties and then in Phono-Graphix and in the Sounds-Write Reading and Spelling programme. She currently works at the Bloomfield Learning Centre in London where she tutors pupils with literacy difficulties. There she found that children needed not only a Systematic Phonics programme but decodable reading books to support the phonics teaching. As a result, with two colleagues, she created a publishing company Phonics Books Ltd. She is now involved in publishing decodable reading material for beginner and older, reluctant readers.
Advisors to the Committee