Part 2 – Choosing a school

In this section parents are encouraged to find out how reading and writing are taught in the school they would like to send their child to.

Part 2: Choosing a school

The next thing is to choose a school that is suitable. Ideally, it should be one that has a good reputation and is known to be successful, especially at teaching the children to read and write. It is worth checking on the number of pupils who do not achieve the expected standard in reading and writing on national testing systems, if that is possible.

We know there are still schools around the world that use the out-dated whole-word memorising method of teaching or a mixture of whole words and phonics. The dangers of these types of teaching are explained in the section Causes of Reading and Writing Problems. It seems sensible to find out exactly what method of teaching is being used by the school, especially as there is strong evidence that synthetic phonics produces the highest results and fewest failures. Governments are now supporting this method of teaching. It is well worth finding out the details before deciding which school is best for your child.

What method of teaching?

Here are a few questions to think about asking, when deciding on a school for your child:

  • What method is used in the school to teach reading and writing?
  • Are the letter sounds taught first and in what order?
  • Is word blending taught from as early as possible? (That is when enough letter sounds are known to make words. On this website that occurs when the three letter sounds /s/, /a/ and /t/ have been taught, enabling the words sat and at to be blended.)
  • How is writing taught? Does it start with hearing the sounds in words and writing letters for those sounds?
  • Are the children expected to memorise words? If so, when does that start and what are the words taught in this way?
  • When are children expected to read books and are these books decodable? Remember: decodable books have words that use the letter sounds that have been taught and only use a few tricky words that have already been introduced. This enables the children to develop good decoding skills.
  • How are struggling children supported and when does it usually start? These children really do need decodable books and it is worth checking whether they are provided.




  • TCRW - English Alphabetic-Code Chart

    Alphabetic-Code Charts are extremely useful for developing an understanding of how our complex alphabetic code works.

  • Debbie Hepplewhite's English Alphabetic-Code Chart

    Alphabetic-Code Charts are extremely useful for developing an understanding of how our complex, alphabetic code works. Debbie Hepplewhite has made an excellent chart. There are several other charts available on her website - a link has been provided to her website