I am a literacy consultant (specialising in the teaching of phonics and guided reading). I have been a class teacher for over 25 years and only left the classroom at the beginning of 2020. For several years I was also the phonics lecturer on the PGCE course at Brunel University. These varied roles have combined to give me a wonderful insight into what does and doesn’t work in developing children’s phonic knowledge and skills, as well as the support and resources practitioners, student teachers and parents are looking for.
I started teaching in West London in 1991 and became a literacy co-ordinator 3 years later. In 1998 I was seconded one day a week to work as a literacy consultant in the London Borough of Ealing (this was the first year of the NLS). A year later I became a full time consultant. It was during this time that I first started training teachers on the teaching of phonics and producing materials for use in the classroom.
In 2001 I moved out of London and became the deputy head of an infant school in Buckinghamshire. I provided some of the centrally based phonics training in this authority and also wrote a series of resource books to support teachers using Progression in Phonics (PiPs). These were revised and updated when the Playing with Sounds materials came out in 2004.
I gave up my deputy headship after a few years in order to split my week between part time teaching and consultancy work. I continued at the same school, firstly as a part time YR class teacher and for the last 10 years a part time Y1 class teacher. I spent the rest of my week as a part time freelance literacy consultant, specialising in the teaching of phonics. This role has included:
- Training teachers, TAs and students.
- Providing in school support in the form of demonstration lessons, joint planning with teachers, sharing of resources, monitoring with head teachers and literacy subject leaders etc.
- Running termly phonics support groups for teachers in YR, Y1 & Y2.
- Writing for the Primary National Strategy.
- Working alongside local authority literacy consultants.
- Lecturing on the PGCE course at Brunel University.
- Creating resources for use in schools.
- Working for 4 years as a part time CLLD (Communication, Language and Literacy Development) consultant in the London Borough of Ealing
It has been very exciting to see the rapid progress that is made by so many children when good synthetic phonics teaching is introduced. For further details, go to the training and support section of the site.
In 2011 I started providing phonics training under the DFE matched phonics funding scheme and continued with this for over a year. A number of the phonics products available on this website were also 'approved' for matched funding and appeared in the DFE matched phonics funding catalogue.
As a practising teacher (until the beginning of 2020) and consultant, I am still producing and trialling a range of teaching resources which I make available through the treasure chests on this site, as well as in the shop. The aim is to provide quality synthetic phonics resources, including (in time), a list of resources on other sites. This should save busy practitioners from having to waste time wading through all the synthetic phonics resources available online, only to find that a proportion of them are of poor quality and little use.
In 2021 I collated my planning and resources into a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme based on Letters and Sounds. This is called Lesley Clarke's Letters and Sounds and it was validated by the Department for Education in 2022. I also started creating fully decodable poems linked to Letters and Sounds and these have been matched to a number of Letters and Sounds based programmes. I have also written some non-fiction factsheets and riddles to address gaps in decodable text provision at Phase 5.