[tab name=”Background”]


The Spellwise™ Synthetic Phonic Programme has been changed and refined over a period of 20 years.

But in 2002, I began to teach Henry and he is the reason why the Spellwise™ Synthetic Phonic Programme was written in its current format.

Henry had a statement of special educational needs based upon an educational and developmental delay linked closely to dyslexia and dyspraxia. He experienced difficulty with his working memory and failed to retain and recall information. His auditory and phonological processing was very weak as was his sequencing and visual discrimination. He had already had a substantial diet of phonic teaching but he was moving into KS2 (Yr 3) with knowledge of only 5 sounds, an enormous sense of frustration and failure and a very low self esteem. His parents were extremely worried and concerned.

His mother wrote: “It was a huge relief and the answer to all our worries and concerns when we finally discovered Hilary and the Spellwise™ Programme. To know that it was possible for Henry to learn by using the correct, carefully structured phonic programme. After just a couple of lessons he began learning, recalling and using the sounds – it was just overwhelming what he had achieved.”

Over the next few years, the Programme was successfully used with individual pupils experiencing severe and complex special needs.

Its success prompted initial low key trials of the Programme within a West Midlands Primary School in 2004. This then led to further trials the following year and a further mini-pilot study the following academic year, 2006-07, within 3 schools; 2 in Solihull and 1 in Warwickshire.

[/tab] [tab name=”Pilot 1 – 2006″]


St. Anne’s Roman Catholic School in Solihull was one of the pilot Schools.

The Head Teacher, Mrs. Marie Conway and her SENCO, Mrs. Helen Lovell, were very keen to be part of this study.

The School already had additional, targeted intervention strategies to support pupils within Foundation and KS1. However, the intervention strategies failed to develop the reading and word building skills of a small group of pupils with poor auditory and phonological processing difficulties. This resulted in some pupils still struggling to read, write and spell when moving into KS2.

After an assessment of Year 1 pupils on the Salford Sentence Reading Test (Revised) in June 2006, 3 pupils were selected for the pilot.

The Programme began in September 2006 and ran through to May 2007 after which the 3 pupils were assessed again on the Salford Sentence Reading Test (Revised).

The progress in reading was significant.

YR 2 Pupils Sept. 2006 Sept. 2006 June 2007
Group 1 C.A. R.A. R.A. Progress
1a 6:5 4:3 5:2 +0:11 yrs
1b 6:10 4:4 5:4 +1:0 yrs
1c 6:6 4:4 6:11 +2:7 yrs

These results prompted the School to continue with the Spellwise™ Programme, and the following chart shows the reading progress of groups of pupils taught between 2007–2009.

YR 2 Pupils Sept. 2007 Sept. 2007 Jan. 2008 June 2008
Group 2 C.A R.A. R.A. R.A. Progress
2a 6:4 4:5 5:11 7:3 +2:10 yrs
2b 6:4 4:6 5:7 6:4 +1:10 yrs
2c 6:5 -4:3 4:4 6:11 +2:8 yrs
2d 6:4 -4:3 4:3 5:00 +0:9 yrs
YR 2 Pupils Sept. 2008 Sept. 2008 Jan. 2009 June 2009
Group 3 C.A. R.A. R.A. R.A. Progress
3a 6:9 *4:9 4:10 6:1 +1:4 yrs
3b 6:3 4:6 5:0 6:11 +2:5 yrs
3c 6:9 *4:3 4:10 7:2 +2:11 yrs
3d 6:11 *4:3 4:3 7:2 +2:11 yrs

Over a period of 9 months, the reading ages improved by an average of 2 years.

Because of these remarkable results, the Programme is now firmly established as an ‘Intervention Strategy’ and continues to be part of the wider programmes of support used to deliver phonics teaching within the School.Spellwise™ Synthetic Phonic Programme has been an intervention strategy that has brought success to the wide range of Special Needs pupils in St. Anne’s R.C. Primary School.

[/tab] [tab name=”Pilot 2 – 2010-11″]


Click Here to see the Pilot 2 Reading Results Data

In 2010 -11, Hilary Wilson piloted the Spellwise Synthetic Phonic Programme again in 10 Infant and Primary Schools within Solihull and Warwickshire.

Pupils were initially assessed in September 2010, using the Salford Sentence Reading Test to provide a base line reading age.

An interim assessment was carried out and recorded in January 2011 on 45 pupils.

Final assessment results were carried out on 41 pupils in May, June or December of 2011.

4 pupils were not included in the final assessment results:

– 1 pupil had left the school.

– 3 other pupils were exited after the January interim assessment as their reading ages were considered age appropriate.

Interim Assessment – The average increase in reading ages over 12 weeks from late September 2010 to the week beginning January 2011 was 8.3 months

Final Assessment – The average increase in reading over approximately 10 – 12 months in May, June, December 2011 was 20 months

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Spellwise™ has proved itself to be:

  • A successful Wave 3 intervention strategy
  • A stand alone, multi-sensory teaching approach which has enabled even pupils with significant learning difficulties to make progress.

Spellwise™ has provided:

  • Secure foundations of CVC word building, reading, writing and spelling; the fundamental building blocks upon which all future learning is based.

Additional benefits have included:

  • Increased self confidence and self esteem
  • Significant increase in pupil motivation and eagerness to read
  • Increased achievement in maths
  • Greater independence in learning in the classroom across the curriculum
  • Improved relations and communication between home and school
  • Reading achievement above expectations
  • ‘value added’ improvements for SEN pupils at the end of KS2

Spellwise™ Synthetic Phonic Programme fills the educational gap in phonic teaching and in the words of Mrs Marie Conway, Head Teacher of St. Anne’s R C Primary School – “has given these pupils the wings to fly.”