Primary education
Primary schools

Ensure your Year 5 and 6 pupils are ready for secondary school and close the vocabulary gap. The Sound Training literacy intervention programme delivers instant impact on your pupils’ reading skills and confidence.

Secondary & 6th form
Secondary & 6th Form

Lift attainment levels for your KS3, 4 and 5 students and make sure they're exam-ready. The secondary literacy programme delivers instant impact on vocabulary and literacy skills and results right across the curriculum.

English as an additional language

Bridge the gap for EAL students so that they can move quickly into mainstream classes. The Stepping Stone module delivers instant impact on English language skills, vocabulary and confidence.

What schools are saying about Sound Training

Pupils have really enjoyed the programme and we have since undertaken additional training and booked more for the future. All of the Sound Training for Reading staff have been very friendly and personable, in addition to offering a very professional service. I would not hesitate to recommend Sound Training to other schools.

Sarah Tomlin, Literacy Coordinator

We have had some great success stories and in a relatively short space of time and as soon as I see the improvements becoming consistent, I retest the students and they can see their successes immediately. This gives them more confidence to move on to the next step. I have now worked with enough students to realise that this is an extremely effective programme. The results can be achieved over a matter of weeks, a perfect intervention to fit in with the demands of school life. I actually can't praise the program enough, it just works!

Juliette Hyne , Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School

The module has been very effective for students who are new to the country and to those who have not yet gained sufficient levels of language. Students have quickly been able to fluently decode the written word allowing them to then analyse them for meaning. My students enjoy the chanting of the sounds and the speed we build up over time; is essential to maintain a fast pace of delivery. I record the students sometimes to let them hear their own voices and they find this helps. The progress the students make in such a short period of time sets Sound Training's Stepping Stone apart from other EAL provisions.

Liz Malone, Lead TA for EAL, Mount St Mary's Catholic High School, Leeds

Apart from the huge impact on reading ability, Sound Training has enriched the pupils’ understanding of spoken vocabulary.

L. Dickson, Specialist Dyslexia Support Teacher, Park End School, Middlesbrough

Aside from the improvement in reading, the programme has delivered noticeably increased self-esteem, confidence, and improved classroom engagement. Sound Training has enabled the pupils at Acklam Whin to “unstick” their reading and re-engage with their learning with greater confidence and understanding.

John Lees, Headteacher, Acklam Whin School

We've been blown away by Sound Training! The scores the pupils have been achieving is amazing and there is a buzz around the school. Other members of staff are starting to take notice and it is being recognised in other lessons. We absolutely love the programme and will definitely be renewing our licence.

Jennie Hick, Vice Principal, Mounts Bay Academy, Penzance

One of OFSTED's key findings in our November 2015 inspection was that 'Teachers pay meticulous attention to improving pupils' literacy skills' and that 'development of pupils' key literacy skills, including reading, is impressive. Students rapidly gain the skills needed to be successful in their learning.' Undoubtedly, Sound Training plays an important part in this.

Ian Jones, School Licenced Trainer, Orchard School Bristol

The school’s use of the year 7 catch-up funding supports pupils well, for example in improving reading. The initiative called 'Sound Training for Reading' is ensuring that students make good progress in their literacy.

Ofsted Report, 2013, Archway School, Stroud

Our Yr 5 optional SATs indicated that the excellent progress which had been made by pupils during Sound Training was maintained, with individuals all meeting expected targets or exceeding them.

John Truman, Headteacher, Silvertree Primary School, Co. Durham

Sam completed Sound Training in the Summer Term 2013 and made two years gain in reading. However, it was the total transformation in his confidence and skill that surprised everyone. He commented, “I can spell now” and his parents said it was like a light bulb being switched on. He has smashed his English target, going from a Level 4 to a Level 6 and is now in the Top set for Year 9. He writes confidently and creatively and is simply a joy to teach. It has been a pleasure to see just how much Sound Training has, literally, changed his life.

Heather Swinnerton, Assistant Principal for Literacy, Hugh Christie Technology College, Tonbridge

Samantha Satyanadhan, Assistant Principal

Samantha Satyanadhan, Assistant Principal

"If someone had told me a few years ago that there was a programme that could boost reading ages by over two years in ...

Samantha Satyanadhan, Assistant Principal

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Improve the literacy levels of your students

Boosts reading ages by an average of 27 months in just six weeks
Develops spelling, punctuation and grammar
Delivers improved results for all abilities
Ensures deeper understanding of the curriculum
Encourages students to become active learners
Improves student engagement and self-esteem
Enhances vocabulary knowledge
Accelerates achievement
It’s fast, focused & fun!

Word of the week


desperately wanting to achieve a goal, working hard to achieve it

Why does AMBITIOUS mean what it means? It has an unexpected explanation!

AMBI / AMPHI - both

I/IT - going

OUS - full of, by nature

So, rather strangely, it literally means 'going both of two ways', or 'going to and fro'.

AMBITIOUS comes from the Latin word AMBITIO, and it described the activities of Ancient Roman political candidates who desperate to win votes. In the run-up to their elections, they would dash about, to and fro, chatting to people, currying favour and flattering, trying their hardest to win people's support. It was the Ancient Roman equivalent of getting on the campaign bus, leafleting, and knocking on doors wearing large rosettes!

The prefix AMBI is seen in AMBIDEXTROUS - when you can use both hands equally well: it literally translates from Latin as 'both hands are right hands'! AMBI has the sense of 'around' in the word 'AMBIENCE' - the surrounding atmosphere (literally 'to-ing-and-fro-ing-ness'!).

AMBI is also linked to the Ancient Greek prefix AMPHI in AMPHIBIOUS (able to live (-BIO-) in both, i.e. in water and on land - think frogs and newts) and AMPHITHEATRE: to the Greeks and Romans a THEATRE was always semicircular, so the circular or oval shape of an AMPHITHEATRE was therefore 'two theatres', 'a theatre at both ends', or 'a theatre all around'.

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a policy of avoiding political or military involvement with other countries

What do a policy of keeping yourself to yourself, and thick wadding in your loft have in common? The Latin word INSULA, that's what!

ISOL - island (from Old French ISOLE and Latin INSULA, both meaning 'island')

ATE - to make into, become

TION - act, process, result

ISM - belief, system, practice

ISOLATIONISM is usually used in a political sense, when a country withdraws from much interaction with the international community, believing this to be the best way of defending its borders, interests and beliefs. The country is metaphorically trying to make itself into an island, separate from its neighbours.

The word ISOLATE, meaning 'to keep something or someone on their own', is often used in a medical sense, when trying to contain a disease, or in a psychological sense, when someone feels alone, with no one to turn to.

ISOLE also gives us our word ISLE and ISLET, although strangely enough, not ISLAND! ISLAND comes from Old English IEGLAND, but probably changed its spelling over the years because of ISLE.

The original root word INSULA has more practical or physical uses in English, often with the idea of creating a barrier to protect something, just as the sea is a barrier between an island and the mainland.

INSULATION - the thick wadding used to keep a building warm (you are using the wadding to create a barrier between the warm interior and the cold exterior: TION - act, process, result)

INSULATOR - a material which blocks electricity from flowing through it (OR - a person or thing performing an action)

PENINSULA - a narrow stretch of land jutting into the sea and surrounded by the sea almost all the way round: it is ALMOST an ISLAND, and the PEN bit comes from Latin PAENE - 'almost'

INSULIN also comes from INSULA - the glucose-controlling hormone is made in an area of the pancreas called the ISLETS of Langerhans.

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a fraud, a person who pretends to be someone else, especially to gain money or power by deceit

IMPOSTOR is sometimes also spelled IMPOSTER, but both the endings mean the same thing:

IM - in, into, on

POST - place, put (from Latin PONO - to place, put)

OR - a person who...

An IMPOSTOR is literally a person who puts upon you, or deceives you.

A past tense form of the verb PONO is POSITUM, so we see several forms in English words: PONE, POSE and POSIT.

DEPOSIT - to put something down (DE - down, away, opposite)

EXPOSE - to put something out, i.e. into the public eye (EX - out, out of)

POSITION - the act or result of placing something somewhere (TION - act, process, result of an action)

POSTPONE - we say 'to put off', but literally it translates as 'to put afterwards, to put later' (POST - after)

PROPOSAL - an idea to put forward (PRO - forward)

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success brought about by skill, courage and effort

Although the origins of this word are in Latin (as usual!), it comes to us through an Old French phrase.

A/AD - to, towards, into

CHIEVE - head (from French CHEF - head)

MENT - result of an action

In French, the verb ACHEVER comes from the old phrase A CHEF VENIR, which meant 'to come to a close, finish'. The modern sense of 'to complete, finish successfully' developed from there. The French use the word CHEF to mean 'head', as in the body part with eyes, ears, hair, etc., and also as in the head of a company, school, project, etc. When we use the word CHEF in English we are actually referring to the head of the kitchen in a restaurant, who is always the chief cook.

Other words linked to the French word CHEF are:

CHIEF - the head person

MISCHIEF - bad behaviour, naughtiness; literally 'to come to a head badly' (MIS = wrong, bad)

KERCHIEF - a square cloth covering for the head, from French COUVRIR - to cover, and COUVRECHEF - a head covering

HANDKERCHIEF - a KERCHIEF held in the hand and used to wipe faces, noses, etc.!

Interestingly, the English phrase 'to come to a head' is a direct translation of the French phrase. We now use it in the sense of 'to come to a critical point, to come to the climax'. Since the critical point of something is usually the big reveal in a mystery or the big showdown in an ongoing argument, etc., we can still see its original meaning.

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a promise of support, usually charitable or professional

SPONSORSHIP is a PROMISE to give support:

SPONS - promise (from Latin SPONDEO - to promise, pledge, bail)

OR - a person who

SHIP - position, status, quality, practice

SPONSORSHIP can be charitable or might provide professional support: you might SPONSOR someone to run a marathon for charity by promising them an amount of money for their fundraising, for instance, or a company might SPONSOR an event by providing funding, materials or services.

The Latin verb SPONDEO is the link between RESPOND, RESPONSIBLE and DESPONDENT.

Although we usually use RESPOND to mean 'reply, answer', it originally meant that you were actually answering 'yes' to a request for something, so you were promising something in return (RE- again, back).

Taking RESPONSIBILITY for something means you are answerable or accountable for it.

When you are feeling DESPONDENT you are giving up, going back on your pledge (DE- down, away, remove).

Finally, SPOUSE is an old-fashioned word for a husband or wife, coming from SPONSA and SPONSUS, the Latin words for a bride and bridegroom: two people betrothed or PROMISED to each other in marriage. The modern Spanish words ESPOSA and ESPOSO, and Italian SPOSA and SPOSO, also meaning bride and bridegroom, are also traced back to this Latin verb.

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large-scale destruction, massacre

The word HOLOCAUST has its origins in ancient religious practices: it only took on its current general meaning in the 1600s, and it became the proper name for the genocide of Jewish people by the Nazis during the Second World War as late as 1957.

From Ancient Greek:

HOLOS - whole, complete

KAUSTOS - burnt

Originally HOLOCAUST was a biblical word (much of the New Testament was written in Greek) referring to the burning of sacrificed animals as part of the offering to God: a burnt offering.

We see HOLO in HOLISTIC (an approach to improving life, especially health, which considers everything in someone's life, not just the symptoms of the problem) and CAUSTIC is often used on its own, meaning BURNING - both literally, in CAUSTIC SODA (used to clear drains, strip paint, etc.) and metaphorically as a synonym for sarcastic, cutting.

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dull, dark; feeling sad or serious

SOMBRE is a mash of two Latin words:

SUB - under

UMBRA - a shade, shadow

If the mood is SOMBRE, you are feeling 'under a shadow' - or, as the English metaphor has it, 'under a cloud'.

SUB often changes when fixed to the beginning of other words, e.g. SUB + PRESS = SUPPRESS (to press down).

Other UMBRA words are:

SOMBRERO - the wide-brimmed, Mexican straw or felt hat giving shade to the wearer

OMBRE - in hair styles and home decor, the blending of different shades of one colour along an area of hair, fabric, wall, etc., going from dark to light or vice versa

UMBRELLA - 'a little shade': although we in Britain think of this as protection from the rain, originally an umbrella was the same as a parasol, providing shade from the sun

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the quality of being a bit strange, unconventional, not central

ECCENTRICITY has both literal and metaphorical uses:

EC/EX - out, out of (sometimes with the implication of 'out of and over, above')

CENTR - centre, middle

IC - to do with

ITY - state, quality, condition

Most people will be more familiar with its metaphorical usage, as a synonym for strange behaviour, oddness, quirky characteristics, or being an oddball. This sense arose in the early 19th Century, and implies someone or something not following the crowd - metaphorically not sticking to central ground.

When ECCENTRIC is used in more technical and scientific contexts, however, it has a much more literal sense: off-centre. It might refer to a planet whose orbit is not circular, a circle which does not share a centre with another (if they do share a central point, they are CONCENTRIC - 'centred together'), or of machinery with an axis or other part not placed centrally.

Other EC/EX words are ECSTASY (the condition of being out of, or above, a normal emotional state), ECZEMA (literally 'bubbling out, boiling out' - it was the name ancient physicians gave to any skin infection or condition); and EXCLAMATION (the act (TION) of shouting out (EX); from Latin CLAMO 'to shout')

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the belief that the self is all that can be known, or all that exists

SOLIPSISM breaks down into two Latin words with an English suffix:

SOLUS - alone, only

IPSE - self

ISM - belief, system, practice

This is a philosophical idea, that the only thing you can truly know is real or exists is your own self: everything else could simply be a figment of your imagination. Some child development experts believe that babies and young children are SOLIPSISTS, until they are able to understand that other people have experiences similar to their own, and can develop empathy with others.

Other words linked to SOLIPSISM are:

SOLILOQUY: a speech for a single character in a play (LOQU = words)
SOLITUDE: the condition of being alone (TUDE = condition)
IPSILATERAL: to do with or belonging to the same side of the body (LATERAL = side)
IPSO FACTO: by that very fact, due to that fact itself (a Latin phrase used in English)

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untidy, dishevelled, unbrushed or unwashed

UNKEMPT comes from a verb which died out with Middle English (spoken from around 1100-1500 - think Chaucer!):

UN - not

KEMP - from KEMBEN: to comb (M. English)

T - an old past tense of some verbs

We see the old past tense T-ending in words such as SLEPT, KEPT, WEPT and DREAMT.

Although the verb KEMBEN died out, it left behind our word COMB, and also the job title KEMPSTER: this was a woman who cleaned and COMBED the wool after sheep-shearing, before it was passed on to the SPINSTER, the woman who spun the fluffy wool into yarn, ready for weaving by the WEBSTER.

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Sounding out



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an everyday item, but you probably won't know where the name comes from!

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You gotta laugh! We take a look at the origins of humour-related vocab.

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