Another Resounding Success for the THRASS Synthetic Phonics Programme

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The THRASS synthetic phonics programme is being used with resounding 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. Wherever it is used, it surpasses all expectations, and Western Primary School in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, where THRASS is now being introduced to the whole school, is the latest example of this success.

You don't get pandas in Africa

The THRASS synthetic phonics programme is being used with resounding 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. Wherever it is used, it surpasses all expectations, and Western Primary School in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, where THRASS is now being introduced to the whole school, is the latest example of this success.

Western Primary School first introduced THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading And Spelling Skills) as a programme to help children with special education needs (SEN) but its success has been so remarkable and the children have enjoyed it so much, that the head teacher, Cheryl Smith, has now decided to extend the THRASS programme to the whole school, including the very youngest children, with the roll-out starting from the new school year in September 2008.

This success story started when Zara Chantler, a teacher at the school and SEN Co-ordinator, attended a THRASS training day in November 2007 and was so impressed that she subsequently persuaded other teaching staff to do so too. Everyone was very excited about THRASS and the THRASS SING-A-LONG songs, and they became even more excited when the SING-A-LONG interactive software arrived, with children in nearly every classroom singing along nearly every day. The school subsequently started to incorporate the SING-A-LONG songs into literacy and singing, and the children started to make remarkable progress. As Zara Chantler explained, "The children have already made a huge amount of progress even with small amount of THRASS they have had so far. Their spelling has improved, and their general literacy vocabulary has improved immensely."

It is widely accepted that music, and in particular singing, can have a wide range of benefits for children, the most important of which in the context of teaching literacy is that it can accelerate learning and improve the memory. The children at Western Primary School have enjoyed the THRASS SING-A-LONG songs so much, that they will often load the software on to the SMART Board themselves and sing along on their own if they have any free time. They are singing the songs at home and some of them are even going to bed singing them. This level of enjoyment and the confidence that the children have gained was evident from their faces at the concert that the school put on for children in Key Stage 1 to show parents the results of their hard work at the end of the Summer term.

Parents have also been hugely impressed and the feedback received from them confirms that THRASS is definitely working. "My son was really struggling to learn to read and THRASS is the only way he's been able to learn the alphabet and to read. In three months he's been transformed, so that we now have hope for his education as he goes up into juniors." "It's fantastic and a marvelous way to teach children the alphabet." "The SING-A-LONG songs are catchy, easy to learn and the children really love them." These were just some of the remarks made by parents attending the concert.

The THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Project is an exciting new project that uses 44 songs that parents and others can sing with children to explain the 44 sounds (phonemes) and 120 main spelling choices (graphemes) of English in order to help them to read and spell. It has already enjoyed huge success since it was launched at the beginning of the year.

The THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Resources have been produced by British educational psychologist, Alan Davies, an expert in synthetic phonics who has pioneered the THRASS synthetic phonics programme, and Janine Plunkett, a South African music teacher. The songs are real 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.

The original resources were an interactive book, an audio CD, a 96-page hard-back book and a colouring book, and these have recently been complemented by two new resources, a sheet music book and a Move-A-Long With Sing-A-Long DVD. The sheet music book contains easy musical arrangements for the 44 SING-A-LONG songs and the SING-A-LONG theme song, so that children can now play the songs at home and at school, on the piano and also on other instruments, such as the guitar. The DVD includes the World Premiere school concert performances of all the songs, with the words displayed on screen. The resources will all enable children, and also older learners, to develop their literacy skills while at the same time having lots of fun.

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 and that Absa Bank intends to introduce THRASS to hundreds of Government schools in 2008 using the SING-A-LONG resources. In South Africa, Pritt (as in the widely-known Pritt Stick, made famous by the German company Henkel) is also a sponsor of THRASS -- with the main focus being on the SING-A-LONG resources.

At Western Primary School the THRASS synthetic phonics programme is once again enjoying resounding success.

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 and details of THRASS Professional Development Courses is at http://www.thrass.co.uk/teaching.htm

To see video footage of interviews with staff and parents at Western Primary School and excerpts from the July 2008 Key Stage 1 THRASS SING-A-LONG Concert, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/wps08.htm

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

For full details of the THRASS SING-A-LONG Family Reading Resources, visit http://www.thrass.co.uk/list2008.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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THRASS
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