• Track 3   The Start Reading Words Track

    The objective of the Start Reading Words track is to teach pupils to blend sounds. Pupils practise blending using cards with 3 letter words (consonant, vowel, consonant). The cards are ordered so that pupils develop the skills that during our research were shown to be useful steps to blending.

    As in any track, this is assessment through teaching, and therefore, during each session, the teacher is alert to changes in the pupil's response that indicate the need to move to a different stage.

    There are 4 stages each of which gives pupils increasing responsibility for independent decodng.

  • Track 4   The Start Spelling Track

    The Start Spelling Track gives pupils the spelling vocabulary that allows them to start Write Words - Example 2. We teach pupils to write a series of personalised sentences and we use techniques that:

    1   Prevent pupils from becoming overloaded by new information
    2   Ensure that information is retained in long-term memory

    As we do this, we model the identification of sound segments in words. Start Spelling can be carried out with pupils working individually in a group setting.

  • Example 2   The Core Tracks Session

    Core Tracks sessions are for pupils who can:

    1   Blend 3 sounds to form a word; they may need to be supplied with the sounds
    2   Read more than one or two of the easiest books independently
    3   Spell 20 words

    The Core Tracks session takes pupils to adult levels of literacy and comprises 5/6 tracks. These are outlined below.

  • Track 1 Do It Yourself Writing Plus

    Do It Yourself Writing Plus is an interactive dictation based on the weekly Do It Yourself Writing - see below. It increases writing amount and speed and allows pupils to pick up spelling punctuation and grammar effortlessly. It is primarily a perceptual learning activity.

    Do it Yourself Writing

    Do It Yourself Writing is a 10 minute piece of free writing that pupils carry out completely unaided. It usually takes place outside the Tracks session. It is:

    1   An opportunity to enjoy communicating through writing
    2   The focus of DIY Writing Plus
    3   A source of Write Words (see Track 4 below)
    4   An on-going motivational assessment procedure for both pupils and teachers

  • Track 2   Do It Yourself Reading

    DIY Reading allows one adult to monitor the reading of several pupils in a group - all of whom read at their own pace and level. Pupils read large amounts of material at high fluency levels, even at the earliest stages of reading. They take responsibility for asking for help when they don't understand something and they quickly realise it is in their interest to ask.

    The aim is to maintain an uninterrupted flow of reading, and DIY Reading provides the context in which effortless reading is valued more than being seen to read difficult material.

    The increasing ability to decode, developed through the Read Words Track, feeds into this track, sometimes at the level of systematic decoding, sometimes without conscious attention.

    Multi-track Reading

    Multi-track Reading deals with the organisation of books. When a pupil finishes a book they immediately identify another that is imperceptibly harder, allowing reading to continue at a high fluency level. Thus pupils have the processing capacity to deal easily with new material within the text, and to remember it. They move effortlessly through a continuum of increasingly harder reading material.

    If a book becomes too easy the pupil will move to harder material, often choosing to finish that book outside the session. If at any point the pupil feels the book they are reading is difficult they have easier alternatives to move to - without teacher involvement.

    Pupils are engaged in informed decision-making and monitor their own progress through the record booklets.

  • Track 3   The Read Words Track

    The Read Words Track is the way we extend the teaching of phonics.

    Our interactive techniques allow pupils to learn the 'sounds' of individual letters incidentally during the decoding process: we don't even need to assess the pupil's growing knowledge.

    The way we deal with more complex groups of letters varies according to their frequency of use and ease of learning. We teach the frequently-used and simpler sounds directly using a hierarchy of methods - depending on the ability of the pupil. We teach more complex groups and less frequently-used sounds with a system of references.

    The techniques

    Pupils read words on cards by decoding them with a systematic left to right blending technique. The words are organised into 10 stages reflecting our research on ease and frequency of use.

    There is no repetition; words are always randomly presented. If a pupil makes mistakes or is unsure, the teacher provides a minimal cue, or if necessary, a series of minimal cues that teach a strategy for decoding that particular group of words. At each point in the session the teacher is making decisions for individual pupils. The teacher decides:

    1   Whether to move the pupil back or further into the track

    2   Which cue is appropriate for the pupil at that particular point in the session

    3   Whether to allow the pupil to use the cue immediately or whether to build in a delay so that the pupil has to     remember and act on the cue independently.

    X Read Words

    X Read Words is an individual extension to the track that takes pupils to the point where they can decode any word in English. Pupils can use these techniques independently to develop knowledge of subject material outside the session. At these higher levels the development of comprehension increasingly becomes part of the process for many pupils.

  • Track 4   The Write Words Track

    The Write Words Track is one of 3 spelling tracks. It's used to teach pupils to spell words they use in their writing and has the power to take spelling to adult levels. The formal system is structured and cumulative. An accompanying informal system extends the knowledge that pupils acquire through the formal system.

    The Formal system

    The formal system has been designed to enable transfer to the writing task. Words are taken from pupils' free writing, or DIY Writing, and each pupil has a personal set of words. Words are chosen according to frequency of use in the pupil's writing, and how easy they are for the pupil to learn. The way in which words are changed is dependent on the error rate. We have sampling systems to ensure words continue to be spelt correctly.

    Pupils have the choice of which words they reject and, in certain circumstances, how many. They make informed choices, balancing the desire to maximise the number of words they learn with the risks of forgetting in the longer term. The recording systems and self-monitoring mean that over time pupils come to understand how a fairly complex system works them. As in other parts of Tracks, they are learning how to learn.

    The Informal system

    When a pupil can spell a word the teacher will start adding words that are related to the known word. The aim of this is to exploit existing knowledge to extend the pupil's spelling vocabulary. Through this system pupils will lay foundations for more complex spelling, which they will meet formally in other tracks.

  • Track 5   The Chunks and/or Rules Track


    Chunks deals initially with the identification of 2-sound segments but quickly moves into 3-sound-segment identification and then to spelling choices involving vowel digraphs. It is structured and cumulative.

    Pupils have interactive teaching booklets and spell words by identifying sound segments and using a reference system. Pupils are being taught strategies for spelling, and the words in the booklets are simply examples for practice. As pupils work, the teacher is making constant decisions about the next word for each individual pupil based on recording of previous sessions in the booklets and performance during the current session.


    Pupils learn to spell words with the consonant/vowel/consonant pattern and then move to words with initial and final blends and words with a modifying 'e', through to adding endings to words. Rules 2 then begins to incorporate the vowel digraphs that the pupil will probably already know from work in Chunks.

    At higher levels, lists of related words that individual pupils have acquired through the Write Words track may be added to both the Rules and Chunks booklets, thus creating an even more individualised programme.

    The multi-track interaction of the 3 spelling tracks means that it is difficult for the individual pupil to fail to learn to spell - providing they are given adequate opportunities to practise their skills in writing tasks.