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Emma Hartnell-Baker

Innovate UK Winner! MySpeekie is Innovate UK Funded

Here is a fabulous 5-year-old autistic child I had the pleasure of meeting while supporting a Gold Coast school many years ago, in Australia. He was able to develop phonemic awareness (Phase 1) and learn to read before the end of the year. He became obsessed with my Spelling Cloud Keyring. All spelling choices for each 'monster sound' are shown.
We are pattern seekers!

I have a track record of supporting whole school literacy improvement in Australia. Phonemic Awareness Mastery (Phase 1 of the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach) is taken very seriously there.

Phonemic awareness is the leading cause of reading difficulties, and we identify the 'at risk' children in Phase 1. They receive extra help early.

As synthetic phonics is used in the UK, I am (at present) only releasing PAM for school-aged children. This will enable most to then learn with synthetic phonics.

My main focus is the screening of 3-year-olds, with plans to roll this out nationally.

Known as 'Miss Emma' throughout her career, highlights have included breakthrough Code Mapping Tools, grapheme markers, and Spelling Clouds to collect and display all spelling choices for each English speech sound. 

Emma Hartnell-Baker launched a linguistic phonics approach to developing orthographic knowledge called the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach, which extended to whole school spelling, and achieved outstanding results across Australia. Children who learn differently were fully included: they thrived!

Now back in the UK she is in her fourth year of doctoral studies at the University of Reading, exploring 'Orthographic Interference'
and asking some tough questions about the teaching of 'the alphabetic code'! 

Emma Hartnell-Baker's approach soon spread across Australia. Great school leaders were listening to teachers, who recognised that although phonics was essential, HOW children are exposed to the connections between spoken and written English makes a huge difference. The Speech Sound Pics Approach includes phonics, but it is 'linguistic' and 'visual', and only part of an approach that centres around exploring words for meaning and pleasure. This playful and purposeful approach is loved by teachers and children alike.  

My neurodivergent brain seeks out patterns. For example, why do almost 8 out of 10 teachers of phonics 'sound out' so many words incorrectly? Is it due to Orthographic Interference, which is not addressed within the phonics training they receive? Is there a correlation between teachers facing word mapping challenges and the number of children who find learning to read difficult, such as those diagnosed with dyslexia? 

Help me demonstrate a HUGE gap in the phonics teacher training industry...ask ANYONE you know who teaches phonics to ‘sound out’ the word ‘village’. If they give an ‘a’ sound (as in /æ/), someone has failed to adequately train and support them so that they can meet the learning needs of dyslexic students especially. It’s likely they are following a commercial programme with limited training.

More is needed if there are neurodivergent children in the classroom. Connect with me - a fourth year doctoral research student obsessed with orthographic interference- as I’ll be releasing info later in the year that will blow your mind! It will show why Dr. Grace (British Dyslexia Association Practice Manager, currently on maternity leave) and I will be offering KS1 teachers and SpLD teachers MORE than they are currently getting, under our new not-for-profit (Early Dyslexia Screening CIC), so that the training teachers get through synthetic phonics programmes does not get in the way of ALL children becoming avid readers.

It’s going to take a village! We invite you to be a part of that village! Start by connecting with me. And let me know how many teachers of phonics you ask to ‘sound it out’ give that /æ/ sound!! (Oops! )

#InnovateUKFunded #Dyslexia #MySpeekie #PhonemicAwareness #OrthographicInterference

EarlyDyslexiaScreening.Org: A Not-for-Profit Project Designed by Neurodivergent Dyslexia Specialists to Identify Learners of Concern 

Early Dyslexia Screening CIC - Be Different
Village in the Cloud

University of Reading

​Doctorate  (2021 to Present)

Phoneme to Grapheme Awareness Among Phonics Teachers: Investigating the Role of Orthographic Interference


University of Nottingham

Masters Degree in Special Educational Needs- Personal, Social and Emotional Development- Behaviour Analysis- Counselling- Dyslexia

University of Worcester

Bachelor of Education with Honours (2:1) Primary Education with a Specialism in the Early Years 3 - 7 

A Message from Rory's Mum.

When our eldest son was in Grade 3 he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Unfortunately by then the damage was done, his reading age was assessed as being below the age of six (he was 8.5 at the time). The most heart-breaking part of his journey was the devastating effect it had on his self-esteem.


The psychologist at the time introduced me to the Speech Sound Pics SSP approach, which turned out to be life-changing! Under Miss Emma's guidance, we cleared the slate and started his journey again at home after school. He warmed very quickly to the approach and in just five weeks he had increased six reading levels. I am extremely proud to announce that he is now in Grade 6 and reading at grade level!! In fact, he is doing so well that in his LP meeting recently I was questioned whether he even had a learning disability.

This brings us to Rory, our youngest. From a young age, he showed signs of possessing the same strengths and weaknesses as his older brother. Not willing to sit back and watch him suffer the same fate we jumped at the chance to be part of the ICRWY 'Monster Mapping' pilot, he was two months shy of his fifth birthday at the time.

Now at six, he is doing so well, this video is proof of that. This is Rory reading his home reader to me. So proud and so very grateful for Miss Emma and her innovative ideas and approach.

2024 to Present: Early Dyslexia Screening 
Director and Project Lead
Leading a new initiative focused on early detection and screening for dyslexia among young children, guiding the organisation's strategy and operations.

2023 to Present: Innovate UK Grant Winner - NextGen 'One Screen' AAC
Project Lead
Spearheading the development of the 'One Screen' AAC technology under an Innovate UK grant, focusing on creating accessible communication solutions.


2020 to Present: The Reading Hut Ltd

  • Project Lead for the re-publishing of "The Village with Three Corners" by Sheila McCullagh.

  • Teacher Training, SEND Focus, including workshops and training for PATOSS.

  • Developer of Speech Sound Mapping Therapy - NeuroInclusive Solutions for Developing Orthographic Knowledge and Vocabulary Knowledge in ways that engage and excite children about the links between spoken and written English.


2009 - 2018: Read Australia
Project Lead
Led the development of the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach for Prep and Year 1, focusing on reading and spelling, incorporating visual and linguistic phonics for whole school literacy improvement.


2008 - 2009: Emigrated to Queensland

  • Joined the Behaviour Advisory Team (short term post).

  • Started running phonics workshops for teachers, sharing findings from the Rose Report, the Australian Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, and the National Reading Panel.


2006 - 2008: OFSTED Inspector, EYFS
Role Summary: As an OFSTED Inspector for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), conducted rigorous inspections of early years education providers to ensure compliance with national standards. Responsibilities included evaluating the quality of education and care, observing teaching practices, reviewing learning outcomes, and providing detailed feedback and recommendations to enhance educational practices and outcomes.


2004 - 2006: Sure Start Centres - Advisory Role (Behaviour)

Behaviour Management - Teens in Care (Supporting a Charity)

2002 - 2004: Behaviour Support - Inner City School

1994 - 2002: Day Nursery Manager (2 Centres)
Managed long day care facilities catering to babies aged 6 weeks to preschool-aged children, including Before and After School Clubs. Achieved an 'Outstanding' rating by OFSTED for both centres.

1992 - 1994: Classroom Teacher (Infants)

Emma Hartnell-Baker designs neuro-inclusive tools and activities to help children learn as independently (self-directed) as possible. This gives them a sense of freedom, they can MOVE a lot, and the teacher is freed up to give children more personalised help as and when needed.  Having an Ortho-Graphix mindset means exploring words daily for FUN! Reading for pleasure becomes a way of life. 

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