Sound Check

The Sound Check project began on April 1st  2013 and ran for two years, coming to an end on 31st March 2015.

The initial concept of the project was very ambitious: bringing together the skills and expertise of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), Dyslexia Action (DA), and Springboard for Children (SfC), it aimed to combine:

  • a targeted intervention programme delivered by DA trained specialist teachers;
  • input from trained volunteers;
  • whole school training for school staff;
  • workshops for parents and carers.


Sound Check set out to work with children in years 2 and 3 who, following the Year 1 Phonics Check, were identified as having difficulties with learning literacy. Throughout the project, the over-riding aim was to improve these children’s understanding of phonics, their literacy learning, and, thus, their life chances.

During April – June 2013, the project team selected an intervention programme based around the Active Literacy Kit (ALK) and a battery of tests to measure pupils’ progress from the start to the end of the intervention. 27 schools were recruited in Leeds, Manchester/Salford, and Swindon, and, in June 2013, following the Phonics Check, the first two cohorts of children, totalling 540, were recruited.

Results exceeded expectations. When the first two cohorts of children re-took the Phonics Check in June 2014, 95% of pupils had improved their scores with a mean increase of 12.8; 66% achieved the threshold level.

When results achieved by children in Cohort 2 were compared with a matched control group, the results were striking:

  • 72% of Cohort 2 achieved the threshold compared with 65% of the control group;
  • 73% of boys in Cohort 2 reached the required level compared with 59% of boys in the control group;
  • 71% of Cohort 2 children eligible for free school meals (FSM) achieved the threshold level compared with 61% in the control group;
  • 69% of white British pupils reached the required level compared with 63% in the control group;
  • 78% of all other ethnicities achieved the threshold level compared with 67% in the control group;
  • 59% of SEND pupils achieved the threshold level compared with 52% in the control group;
  • 71% of younger pupils (those with birth dates between March – August) reached the threshold level compared with 62% in the control group.

The implications of these results for particular subsets of pupils, including boys, FSM, SEND, and younger pupils, are powerful.

On these web-pages you can find further details about the Sound Check project and its achievements, including full reports and evaluations of the project, and links to videos. We hope that these will provide insights from the individuals who took part in the project.

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved, from the project teams at the three partner organisations, to specialist teachers, school staff, our Sound Check pupils and their families, and, of course, the many volunteers who gave up their time to contribute to improving the learning outcomes for so many children.

The Sound Check schools

Leeds: Greenhill Primary, Hollybush Primary, Hunslet Carr Primary, Kerr Mackie Primary, Meadowfield Primary, Parklands Primary, St Augustine’s RC Primary, St Matthew’s CofE Primary, Swarcliffe Primary.

Manchester: Baguley Hall Primary, Benchill Primary, Birchfields Primary, Cheetham CofE Community Primary, Holy Name RC Primary, Marlborough Road Academy, Newall Green Primary, Peel Hall Primary, St Mary’s CofE Primary.

Swindon: Abbey Meads Community Primary, Drove Primary, Eldene Primary, Holy Family RC Primary, King William Street Primary, Lethbridge Primary, Millbrook Primary, Nythe Primary, Red Oaks Primary, St Francis Primary.

The Sound Check specialist teachers

Leeds Manchester Swindon

Tricia Banister
Barbara Boam
Flair Buchanan
Gill de Boer
Barbara Eykel
Bozena Haluszczak
Helen Hawkes
Liz Hayton
Rachel Ingham
Shelagh Reid
Amanda Strachan
Jenny Taylor

Kate Bate
Susan Briggs
Helen Brocklehurst
Anne Hanson
Ceri Haslam
Annette Keegan
Fiona Patnode
Beth Royle
Hazel Warner

Marion Craven
Sandra Fleming
Claire Francis
Sue Kinsler
Jane Moore
Jane Muir Brooks
Jan Oostendorp
Liz Sim
Siobhan Smillie
Valerie Upchurch

And all our volunteers, too numerous to list.

Thank you to you all for making the project such a success.


Final project report - download here

Booklet for parents and carers to support their child at home - download here

Video: Introduction to the Primary Literacy Project (Sound Check) - view here

Video: Stakeholders' Day in Manchester - view here

Video: Specialist Teacher Intervention Session - view here

Contact us

If you have any queries regarding the Sound Check project or would like to find out about delivering the Sound Check intervention in your school, please contact

Liz Horobin, Project Director

0333 405 4583