Children in Botswana and Swaziland Latest to Benefit from THRASS Synthetic Phonics Programme

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The THRASS synthetic phonics programme is currently being used with remarkable success in thousands of schools across Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the USA to teach children of all ages to read and spell. Now children in Botswana and Swaziland are to be the latest to benefit from this amazing programme.

This will be a super tool to use, especially with Reception classes where there are children whose visual memory is weak.

The THRASS synthetic phonics programme is currently being used with remarkable success in thousands of schools across Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the USA to teach children of all ages to read and spell. Now children in Botswana and Swaziland are to be the latest to benefit from this amazing programme.

If children are to develop life-long learning skills, it is vital they acquire a good grounding in language skills at an early age, as this is the platform on which all other learning takes place. If they fail to grasp the fundamentals of language when they are young, they will always be at a huge disadvantage. The THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) synthetic phonics programme, pioneered by British educational psychologist, Alan Davies, has been welcomed as heralding the start of a new era in the teaching of English in Africa, where many are welcoming it as opening the door to major educational and other opportunities across the region. It is widely acknowledged as having the potential to more than double the normal rate of progress for reading and spelling in English and is therefore ideally placed to provide those essential language skills.

The new THRASS SING-A-LONG resources use 44 songs that parents and others can sing with children to explain the 44 sounds (phonemes) and 120 main spelling choices (graphemes) of English and are accompanied by MOVE-A-LONG WITH SING-A-LONG workshops to give parents and teachers the confidence to perform the songs with children. The SING-A-LONG songs are tremendous fun for both adults and children, as they all have wonderful imaginative titles such as "The moon fell out of the sky", "A great big gorilla" and "You don't get pandas in Africa", and really memorable tunes in different musical styles and dance rhythms such as such as African Round, Blues, Charleston, Hawaiian, Jazz, Ragtime and Reggae. SING-A-LONG is already making a major impact, as both children and adults just love singing the songs and performing the actions to them, and it makes reading and spelling really easy.

The first ever THRASS Accredited Certificate Course in Swaziland took place recently and had a big impact on delegates: "THRASS is an awesome programme. The interactive media and SING-A-LONG makes it the most interesting and fun programme I have ever come across." "THRASS is a wonderful system for any and every school to put into place." "This is a wonderful programme which will greatly assist our children right from the beginning in a multi-sensory way."

In Botswana, delegates attending the first ever MOVE-A-LONG WITH SING-A-LONG workshop there were equally impressed: "SING-A-LONG is a must for all classrooms." "This will be a super tool to use, especially with Reception classes where there are children whose visual memory is weak." "Fantastic workshop; the children will find it a lot easier learning through music and movement." "SING-A-LONG really brings fun to learning spellings."

Whilst in Swaziland, Alan Davies also gave a demonstration lesson to pupils and staff at Thembalisha Preparatory School. Senior teachers at the school were amazed just how quickly the children picked up the key words of the THRASS programme and became confident in using them. They thought THRASS was absolutely wonderful and all agreed that it definitely had a future at the school, in Swaziland and indeed anywhere. As one of them said, "It just makes so much sense to put all the sounds available in English on one chart and let children learn them from the beginning."

It is an indication of the significance of THRASS that in South Africa it is being sponsored by Absa Bank, a member of the Barclays Group, through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project. There, over 5,000 teachers and student teachers have earned the THRASS Accredited Certificate, with approximately 700 having been sponsored by the TalkTogether Project and Absa Bank intends to introduce THRASS to hundreds of government schools during 2008 using the SING-A-LONG resources. The THRASS Accredited Certificate is already a compulsory module for Foundation Phase student teachers at five South African universities, namely, Witwatersrand, Pretoria, Cape Peninsular University of Technology, Fort Hare and KwaZulu-Natal.

In Zimbabwe, World Links Zimbabwe is working with THRASS UK to introduce THRASS to pilot schools using the SING-A-LONG resources. The schools have received these and other THRASS resources through the THRASS Absa TalkTogether Project, and the children and staff will also be receiving training.

THRASS is also about to make a major impact in Namibia, where the Government is rolling out its programme to introduce THRASS in all schools, and THRASS UK is looking to work with teacher training colleges to provide an opportunity for Foundation Phase student teachers to gain valuable teaching experience as it does in South Africa.

In the Caribbean, where THRASS is already used for both mainstream children and children with special educational needs (including dyslexia), and has already received extremely favourable reviews, the Government of Barbados is seriously considering implementing THRASS for all children aged three to nine, following a programme of training for teachers and Government officials earlier in the year.

As teachers at Thembalisha Preparatory School agreed, there is a future for THRASS anywhere, and it is ideally placed to provide essential language skills.

For a videostream of children in Swaziland, South Africa, Barbados and the UK having fun with SING-A-LONG, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/saljune08.htm

The THRASS extensive picture-based training website for schools and parents with 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/teaching.htm

For information about the THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Project, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/sing-a-long.htm

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

Issued by: THRASS UK News Media Centre http://www.thrass.co.uk/nm.htm
Mike Meade, Media Director, +44 1829 741413 Mob: +44 7970 151 738
Chris Griffiths, International Development, +30 266 203 1207

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CHRIS GRIFFITHS
THRASS
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