Investing In David’s Idea

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With phonics taught in primary schools across the country, children learn from an early age how important reading is. But what of pupils who struggle to grasp the basics of reading, be it due to special needs, lack of confidence, or just little previous practice?

David Fallis encountered such issues when he was teaching at a special school for pupils with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties in key stages 1-4. It all began when David was trying to teach a sixteen year old boy with a very low reading age. Traditional interventions were just not working for him, and he mainly wanted to work out in the sports hall.

Running out of options for teaching him, David tried sticking up letters and sounds on the sports hall walls before getting the boy to throw a tennis ball at them. It was a eureka moment: for the first time in his school career, David’s pupil began identifying sounds and was willing to engage in literacy.

From his experience with working with this boy, David slowly evolved Active Phonics. Today it is a proven, engaging, multisensory fusion of phonics and physical education that addresses the needs of many reluctant students. The students in David’s own setting made an average of 1.4 sublevels of progress, which represents a 40% increase in their target amount. With little promotion the website has had 175 registrations from other teachers downloading resources. 10 mainstream primary schools and one secondary school have also delivered Active Phonics in their schools.

Originally David set a target of reaching 100 children in other schools, but Active Phonics has benefitted 550 children because of the high levels of interest. SHINE awarded David a Let Teachers SHINE grant in 2014, helping him put his resources online and pilot his programme in twelve local schools.

For full details on the competition visit this page.