I was fortunate to start my teaching career in a small school in in the northern most reaches of Suffolk, where Sue Lloyd was in the process of developing what was to become Jolly Phonics. Having undertaken a middle school course and been taught to read using whole words and flashcards, arriving to be given a reception class using ‘ita’ (the initial teaching alphabet) was an absolute baptism of fire!
I always say I learnt to read independently and to spell with my first reception class. Having realised that words are made of sounds, and that those sounds are represented by letters the mysteries of reading unknown words and how to spell them began to become clear. Feeling stupid for not having realised this, and cross that I had struggled so, I am passionate that reading and writing are taught in the simplest and most effective way possible.
Being in the reception class meant I was working with and trialling materials for the developing Jolly Phonics. Sue and myself very quickly formed a strong and enduring partnership, though both bringing different things to the mix. We have collaborated on the Jolly Phonics programme (for a great many years now!) producing a scheme that stretches from nursery through to Year 6, as well as a range of decodable readers and other materials. We are amazed at how many countries Jolly Phonics has travelled to and been successful in.
As a class teacher, I taught across all year groups in the school, and spent the last 5 years as SenCo. Sue and myself and Jolly Learning have been involved with most of the major initiatives involving the teaching of reading and writing in the last 30 years. Most recently I was asked by the DfE to be on the panel devising the Childcare and Early Years T level.
As well as continuing to work with Jolly Phonics, I currently provide teacher training and support to schools and teachers, prior to covid in person but now via Zoom, quite literally all over the world – Australia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Spain to name but a few.