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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.

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