The Iffley Academy uses a synthetic phonics scheme to help every child to read. The Sound Reading System (SRS) is an exciting, common sense approach to the teaching of reading and spelling. It is based on the spelling system of written English. The fact that there are 176 spellings for 44 sounds shows that the English spelling system is difficult to comprehend.

The SRS programme teaches all the information necessary for a reader to learn how to decode painlessly. It is built on four keys that unfold logically, building understanding. These have been described in the programme as ‘keys to the code’.

Sounds or phonemes are represented by single letters:
c-a-t ….. d-o-g ….. s-w-i-m

A sound /phoneme can be represented by two or more letters:
h-i-ll ….. sh-i-p ….. th-ere

The same sound/phoneme can be represented/spelled in more than one way: e.g the sound /ee/ spellings:
m-e t-r-ee ….. t-ea-m ….. s-u-nn-y k-ey

The same spelling may represent more than one sound:
t-ea-m ….. h-ea-d ….. g-r-ea-t

These ‘keys’ unlock the understanding of how the spelling system works, and form the underlying structure.

What makes it stand out from other programmes? SRS acknowledges there is a code and shows the teacher and the learner exactly how to manage it. It never introduces a mixed approach to the teaching of reading. It has a firm structure with which to train teachers to use it. The representations for each sound are mastered through systematic, controlled exposure and varied repetition using worksheets, dictionary activities, reading of pre-selected text, copying, dictation and creative writing. Though highly structured, the method is remarkable for its fluidity.

SRS is based on the work of Professor Diane McGuinness: Why Children Can’t Read, Penguin 1997, Growing a Reader from Birth, W.W. Norton, 2004, Early Reading Instruction, MIT Press, 2004 and Language Development and Learning to Read, MIT Press, 2005.