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Jolly Phonics was developed by Sue Lloyd and Sara Wernham, primary school teachers at Woods Loke Primary School in Lowestoft, England. Sue Lloyd has used phonic methods for many years, developing and improving them from research, advice and the practical experience she and her colleagues have gained. Children at Woods Lake, located in a low socio-ecomonic area, consistently score well above average on reading tests.

A message from Sue Lloyd:

When I started teaching at Woods Loke Primary in the late 1970's, the method of teaching reading was `Look and Say', where children were expected to look at whole words and memorize each one. In order to try and reduce the number of underachievers, our school introduced traditional, synthetic phonics. Immediately we noticed a huge improvement in all the children.

The next breakthrough came from a research project. The children were taught to hear and identify the sounds in words at the same time as they were being taught the letter sounds. By the end of the year, all the teachers involved felt that these children were, on average, a year ahead of where they would have been if we had not changed our method of teaching. This turned out to be an accurate assessment. On standardized reading tests our children, on average, were a year ahead, and best of all there were very few underachievers.

In the 1980's, most schools in the UK followed the `Real Book', approach where children use readers from the start and are expected to work out themselves how the letters make up words. At our school we did not go down this route. We spent our time developing and improving the phonic method of teaching that had brought us such good results. Results in other schools started dropping but our results stayed high.

Then in 1990 I met Christopher Jolly, the publisher. He was interested in our method of teaching and looked at the teaching for himself, as well as studying the published scientific research. After that he asked me to write, The Phonics Handbook, to bringing together all the knowledge and experience I had acquired while teaching phonics at the school. At the same time we wanted to create a program that was not only lots of fun for children, but also worked for children as young as 4 years old. This was a daunting task but fortunately for me, my colleague, Sara Wernham, was willing to join me. This was the start of Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar.

A Message from Sarah Warnham:

Phonics first made an impact on my life when I joined the reception class at Woods Loke Primary School.I had no experience at all of how to teach reading, as this was not taught at my teacher training college.

Fortunately for me the school had already begun to develop a reading program that later developed into The Phonics Handbook. I didn't have much confidence at the start, as I had never come across such a method. When I was at school, I was taught the Look and Say method of trying to memorize whole words. Consequently, I had a lot of difficulty with spelling when I was at school. As the term progressed, the reading and writing ability of the children I was teaching grew rapidly. I was amazed by how much could be achieved by teaching letter sounds that the children blended together to make words. It was a complete revelation to me. I felt like I was learning to read and write along with my first class.

Teaching in the reception (kindergarten) class meant I became involved with the Jolly Phonics program. I tried some of the materials, suggested things and watched the project develop. I was very enthusiastic, as not only could I see myself and my class learning, but I could appreciate the ease and fun involved in the process. If a complete novice like myself could use it and get results, it had to be good. As time went on I became more and more involved and I now I co-write much of the Jolly Phonics materials with Sue Lloyd. So in many ways, my involvement with Jolly Phonics has been a very personal one. All the more important for me now, as I have a son and a daughter of my own, is that I am able to help them in a way I would not have been able to before.

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