British Government Confirms that THRASS Phonics Programme Really Does Score 10 out of 10

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Earlier this year THRASS UK was one of the first publishers to submit a self-assessment of its synthetic phonics programme for publication on the British Government's new dedicated phonics website. Now, an independent review carried out by the British Government has confirmed that the THRASS phonics programme, sponsored by leading organisations around the world, really does score top marks against its core criteria for a high quality phonics programme, and THRASS UK is delighted with this assessment.

Earlier this year THRASS UK was one of the first publishers to submit a self-assessment of its synthetic phonics programme for publication on the British Government's new dedicated phonics website. Now, an independent review carried out by the British Government has confirmed that the THRASS phonics programme, sponsored by leading organisations around the world, really does score top marks against its core criteria for a high quality phonics programme, and THRASS UK is delighted with this assessment.

The THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) phonics programme, has been pioneered by British phonics expert and educational psychologist, Alan Davies, who has twice been invited by OFSTED to present papers on phonics at its invitation seminars. It is therefore not surprising that THRASS has scored so highly or that it is currently enjoying sponsorship from so many leading organisations around the world. The THRASS programme actually offers much more than is required by the British Government's published criteria. It provides an extensive picture-based training website for schools and parents with extensive evidence of the widespread success of THRASS and easy access to a wide range of resources and support materials. These include the THRASS Phoneme Machine, a groundbreaking interactive computer programme that uses moving human lips and the International Phonetic Alphabet to teach children, and indeed learners of all ages and abilities, to read and spell.

One of the most significant successes for THRASS UK in 2007 has been the corporate sponsorship of the THRASS phonics programme by Absa Bank, a member of the Barclays Group, in South Africa through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Literacy Project launched in July. This unique educational partnership is aiming to revolutionise the teaching and learning of language in South Africa through partnerships between primary schools, universities and other organisations. All TalkTogether Schools are linked to a university and will benefit from accredited THRASS training for staff and from the provision of THRASS classroom resources and a SMART interactive whiteboard for the Foundation Phase classes. THRASS-trained Foundation Phase student teachers from the associated university will also help to teach THRASS and the home languages in the school. The TalkTogether project has already been launched with several schools and universities, and many more will join the project in 2008.

THRASS has also received sponsorship in Namibia, where the first THRASS Accredited Certificate course was held in September, part-funded by USAID. Now, again with the help of USAID, THRASS could soon be implemented in every school in Namibia, as the 40 advisers who attended the course intend to implement THRASS in all regions. THRASS UK is looking to work with teacher training colleges in Namibia to provide an opportunity for Foundation Phase student teachers to gain experience, just as it is doing in South Africa.

THRASS has also enjoyed considerable success at independent schools in South Africa. THRASS is being implemented in all schools in the Crawford Schools Group, the largest single private school organisation in South Africa, and Crawford Sandton has reported that after just one year the average improvement for spelling is three years.

The implementation of THRASS has also considerably increased the rate of improvement in spelling and reading at St Peter's School in Johannesburg, where it has been combined with paired reading, with older boys teaching boys three years their junior. This has resulted in a 60 per cent improvement in their spelling grades and a considerable increase in their reading ages. Mark Hayter, the Deputy Headmaster, is convinced that there is no other phonics programme worldwide that can maintain ratio gains of more than two, year on year.

At the start of the year, Oxley Park Primary School in Milton Keynes, which is a THRASS 'Centre of Excellence', was rated as outstanding by OFSTED in its 2007 inspection, which found that progress made by the pupils was exceptional.

And this level of success is set to continue into 2008. Absa and Pritt have committed to becoming the founding principal sponsors of the new THRASS SING-A-LONG project in South Africa, which they will use as a testing ground for replication in other countries and major construction company Murray & Roberts is considering becoming an associate sponsor of SING-A-LONG in early childhood development centres in Soweto and elsewhere. The TalkTogether team will also be continuing discussions with Intel to evaluate the potential of incorporating the SING-A-LONG Interactive Book and the Phoneme Machine software, which Intel have assessed as excellent, into their Classmate PCs and http://www.skoool.com global programme for schools.

In addition, Absa is funding a one-day workshop at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on 31 January and 1 February for 100 delegates from TalkTogether Universities and Schools, South African Government officials, and delegates from Botswana and Namibia.

And THRASS is set to spread even further afield. At the beginning of April the Government of Barbados, which is currently investigating THRASS as THE phonics programme in line with the philosophy and thinking in its National Reading Policy, has requested THRASS training for 120 primary and secondary school reading specialists, lecturers and government officials. In August the first THRASS course will be held in Kuwait.

The THRASS phonics programme really is scoring 10 out of 10 in so many countries around the world.

The THRASS picture-based training website with easy access to a wide range of resources and support materials and extensive evidence of the widespread success of THRASS is at http://www.thrass.co.uk

For more information about the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project, visit http://www.talktogether.co.za and http://www.thrass.co.uk/talktogether.htm

For more information about the THRASS Phoneme Machine Version 5 and to register for a free download of the software, visit http://www.phonememachine.com.

For details of THRASS Professional Development Courses that are held regularly in the UK, Europe, West and Southern Africa and elsewhere, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/courses.htm

Issued by: THRASS UK News Media Centre http://www.thrass.co.uk/nm.htm
Mike Meade, Media Director, +44 1829 741413 Mob: 07970 151 738
Chris Griffiths, International Development, +30 266 203 1207

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CHRIS GRIFFITHS
THRASS
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