The Importance of Training in Achieving Phonics Excellence

By Tanya Haigh

One essential element to consider when choosing the phonics programme for any school is how training and ongoing professional development for staff can be managed and supported. Indeed, any new programme taken on by a school needs to be understood in order for it to be operational in an effective way. However, quality training and school-wide training is much broader than an initial launch around the ‘how to’s’. Phonics development is likely to be part of a school’s development plan and in order for this to be driven, quality training needs to be available across all levels of school teams. Indeed, it is as important for the key leaders involved in school improvement – Headteachers, SLT, Phase leaders as well as the obvious Phonics or Reading Leads, and yes, even Governors, to have a clear understanding around your phonics programme. Not only is this imperative for being able to drive and embed a new strategy in school, but it also allows those people to talk the ‘why’ – how is your phonics programme contributing to the bigger picture? How are you encouraging children to leave your schools with the skill and love of reading that will take them through the next education phase and beyond?

One of the key drivers behind improving reading skills in children is ensuring that schools have an emphasis on phonics as the strategy for decoding new words. It is essential, therefore, that schools have a phonics programme in place which will allow them to deliver high quality, daily phonics lessons which impact on the reading skills of all children. It is expected that, unless schools are achieving 95% of Year 1 children passing the phonics screening check, phonics development should be built into their CDP. For many schools, this will be a significant change in expectations. Often as Senior Leaders, we believe that meeting national outcomes means we are doing a good job. However, in doing this, we still have 18%* of children not meeting age group expectations in Year 1 – the ‘lowest 20%’ – and with it being recognised that reading is a key life skill which opens the door to learning, in schools we need to ensure that we have a phonics programme in place which will ensure all children achieve.

The success of any phonics programme lies in the ongoing, rigorous monitoring that school leaders need to develop after the initial launch. In this way, your staff can be supported and aided not only in implementing a new programme but in ensuring it is of the highest quality. Therefore Leaders need a clear understanding of what they are looking for, the strengths which can be celebrated and the areas for development which can be addressed swiftly and most impactfully. Rigorous, supportive monitoring not only of Quality First Teaching but also assessments, tracking and interventions can only be achieved if there has been initial, high quality and potentially, ongoing training and support through your chosen phonics programme. A key message around achieving success in phonics lies in consistency across all classes and a clear understanding of the progression of phonics as an early reading skill. Not only will high-quality training ensure this is the case, but choosing a whole school phonics programme and accompanying resources will also support leaders to develop this whole-school approach.

Obviously we cannot discuss the importance of training without considering that this should be available for all staff. This is not only a requirement for those teachers who will be delivering it, but, indeed, any member of the school team. It is essential that KS2 teachers have that knowledge and understanding of how early reading skills develop, as much as those based within KS1. Support staff should also be developed in their expertise. Often they will be aiding the delivery of phonics in some way: maybe supporting the teacher in the whole class sessions, taking a group themselves or supporting with intervention. Without the necessary training and support, staff are not enabled to achieve the best for their children. Indeed, if phonics is an SDP target, it is likely to be linked to individual’s development targets. It is therefore key for leaders that they provide the resources and relevant CPD opportunities, from inside and outside the school team, to address these.

A final key element to consider in training is around parents. We know that the partnership with parents is essential in supporting our children. The emphasis on phonics and how this should be very securely linked to reading, both in and out of school, has changed significantly in recent time. Parents often want information about the phonics screen and this is one element which should be addressed. However, quality ‘training’ for parents, whether that be information about how phonics is taught and their support role in this, an understanding of reading progression or just how they can develop a love of reading in their children, needs to be planned and embedded over time. This is a huge area for schools to develop in order to establish their reading culture – any quality phonics programme in school can support parents in their understanding.

How does Monster Phonics support the key success criteria linked to high quality training?

Are all staff trained in the SSP (Systematic, Synthetic Phonics programme) that our schools uses?With Monster Phonics, initial training is provided and further support and INSET can ensure all staff are confident to deliver high-quality teaching and learning. Ongoing support for leaders can also be provided in order to embed the programme and support school self-assessment. For example, supporting school improvement: initial monitoring, working with leaders or teaching/support staff, developing whole-school policy and approaches eg. reading and phonics policies, parent information.
Will training ensure there is consistency across our school?Monster Phonics provides a huge range of resources to support the teaching of the programme. Most of these, such as access to the comprehensive website, lesson plans, powerpoints are included when your school signs up. Additional resources to support, such as reading books and magnetic letters can also be purchased.
Will the phonics programme used support staff to deliver Quality First Teaching?Monster phonics is matched to expectations for each year group, is multi-sensory and fun in delivery whilst ensuring the pace is appropriate for all children to reach expected outcomes at key benchmarks. Through using this, staff are well supported in order to deliver high quality lessons which are well resourced, interactive and multi-sensory.
Do leaders clearly understand phonics teaching and learning in their school?Monster Phonics allows leaders to clearly monitor and track teaching and learning, intervention and develop a whole school approach which is matched to the National Curriculum.

Read more about the Monster Phonics training options below.

£99 Online INSET Training & Parent Information Package

To help you successfully implement Monster Phonics from day 1, we are offering a new 1-hour online Staff INSET and a Parent Information Session for only £99 + VAT. These two sessions will ensure Monster Phonics has an immediate impact on improving results, it will save you time, enable your school to demonstrate to parents the quality of phonics teaching, and importantly, will help parents help their children at home. They can be booked on different dates to allow you to have a staff INSET now and a parent session in September.

The two sessions cover:

Session 1: Online 1-Hour Monster Phonics Training

This INSET session is for your school only.  This covers the basics of how to teach Phonics using Monster Phonics, exploring all the fantastic ideas and resources included within full membership.  All staff will then be able to quickly and easily implement MP in the classroom.

Session 2: Parent Information Session

Parents of your school will be given a link to attend this live session. This session will cover what phonics is, how phonics is taught, how Monster Phonics works and ideas to help support learning at home. We recommend all schools deliver an annual parent information session as we see high parental engagement with the programme.    

Book this session

In-Depth INSET Training & Parent Information Session

1. A 2-hour session for the whole-school

  • Bringing phonics to life
  • The Monster Phonics approach
  • Multisensory first teaching
  • The phonics screen and improving results
  • Closing the gap in whole-class phonics lessons
  • Engaging the disengaged
  • A systematic approach to phonics – linguistics
  • A seamless curriculum – the KS1 Spelling Curriculum and  Letters & Sounds
  • Memory techniques

2. Parent Information Session

Parents of your school will be given a link to attend this live session. This session will cover what phonics is, how phonics is taught, how Monster Phonics works and ideas to help support learning at home. We recommend all schools deliver an annual parent information session as we see high parental engagement with the programme.  

Book this session

Monster Phonics also delivers regular free training webinars. To book a session this term, visit Monster Phonics on Eventbrite.