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Reading for Pleasure - The DIFFERENT Reading Framework
The Reading Hut - A Focus on the Child

Literacy is the cornerstone of lifelong learning and education. Individuals who lack reading or writing abilities face challenges with basic daily activities, such as reading medicine labels, completing job applications, or interpreting traffic signs. According to DfE data, 1 in 4 children start school without phonemic awareness—the primary cause of reading difficulties—and 1 in 4 leave primary school unable to read. By teaching someone literacy skills, we enable them to seize better life opportunities and help break the cycle of poverty. Our mission, therefore, is to ensure all children start school with strong phonemic awareness.

They need to be able to identify the phonemes in words, in the right order, and blend them into the whole word so that they can learn phonics (applying phonemic awareness with letters) without difficulties. Simple.

Dr. Susan Brady and a growing number of reading scientists make the case that a mastery of lower levels of phonological awareness (i.e., “phonological sensitivity”) doesn’t transfer to phonemic awareness. Since the awareness of and manipulation of phonemes are the pre-reading skills most tied to reading success, teaching larger units of phonological awareness (e.g., onset-rime or syllable segmentation) to students—especially students in kindergarten and above—is unnecessary. The 'Phase 1' activities within the old DfE Letters and Sounds programme, pre-phonics (e.g., environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body percussion, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds), were not necessary (only 7 was directly related to the skills needed to read). This more recent reading research indicates that the phonological awareness developmental timeline that early childhood educators are familiar with does not equate to an instructional timeline (onset and rime, syllables, alliteration before phonemic awareness). None of this is included in our Phonemic Awareness Mastery Program, designed to ensure that children develop the phonemic awareness needed to learn phonics, as quickly as possible. Phonemic awareness is widely recognised as the primary deficit faced by dyslexic learners, significantly impairing their ability to decode and manipulate the sounds within words, which are essential skills for effective reading and spelling.

At The Reading Hut, we advocate for early phonemic awareness 'Discovery Screening' sessions with 3-year-olds, followed by a check-up when they are 4. We assess phonemic awareness and teach some phonemic awareness activities (without letters and suitable for pre-verbal children, those who do not speak English, and those who are autistic or have ADHD). Consequently, we are screening not only their phonemic awareness but also their engagement, ability to learn, and working memory. As practitioners with a strong track record of improving school wide literacy levels we have designed a way to predicting their risk for difficulties learning to read when they start school, and each child will be assigned a 'risk factor score' that is then compared with data when they are 4. We also offer a highly successful 'Phonemic Awareness Mastery' (PAM) program that can be used by parents and teachers and offer ongoing support.  PAM support can be recommended as part of an EHC plan, and training available for early years practitioners and speech and language therapists. This is being used across Australia in week 1 of reception at schools using the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach (visual and linguistic phonics) Scroll down the page for clips of children using PAM in a classroom setting.

Our phonemic awareness 'Discovery Screening' sessions are unique as they use 'Phonemies'—fun characters that represent English speech sounds—designed by Emma Hartnell-Baker, a highly experienced and effective practitioner who can teach any dyslexic learner to read, who specialises in sending children to school as avid readers, and who is a Level 7 SEN specialist.


By wanting to learn the speech sound monsters, our discovery sessions are as time and cost effective as possible. Parents and teachers observe how interested the child is in the characters and how quickly they begin to isolate, segment, and blend 'the monster sounds' (children call them Speech Sound Monsters as 'monsters' is easier to say than 'phonemies'). This early screening will help us raise awareness of phonemic awareness as an easier and more direct route to mastery, making the transition to mapping sounds to graphemes (phonics) easier for adults to become involved with. Speech Sound Mapping can become a part of daily life in the lead-up to starting school. This also aids with phoneme articulation, and since they are not limited to specific grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) as they will be when learning phonics at school, they can apply 'Speech Sound Mapping' to the words they are interested in. Our Innovate UK-funded tech enables them to see the written word simply by playing Phonemies in the right order on the screen!


Phonemies: Child-Centric Phonetic Symbols for Clear Phoneme Articulation and Enhanced Phonemic Awareness 


Phonemic Awareness Mastery: Mastering Phonemic Awareness Before Introducing Letter Names and Sounds to Avoid Difficulties Cracking the Reading Code

Screen and Intervene (SAI) from The Reading Hut Ltd is different: our phoneme (speech sound) articulation and phonemic awareness mastery program (Speech Sound Mapping) with Phonemies can be used with 2- to 4-year-olds before they are introduced to letters. This ensures that when they start learning phonics, they have the phonemic awareness needed to crack the reading code without difficulties.

Light Wood
Speech Sound Monster Mapping - Phonemies!

Screen and Intervene (SAI) from The Reading Hut Ltd is different: our phoneme (speech sound) articulation and phonemic awareness mastery program is introduced to toddlers without using letters. Each 'speech sound mapping' journey is designed to embrace learning differences and build on what each child already knows. Our screening identifies the child's starting point. This is part of the wider DIFFERENT Reading Framework that centres around personalised learning, guided by leading SEN assessors and reading difficulty experts.

Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) is an innovative solution that toddlers LOVE—no need to know letter names or letter sounds! Instead we use Phonemies : child-centric phonetic symbols for clear phoneme articulation and enhanced phonemic awareness.

The next steps for the Innovate UK-funded tech are to create Community ‘Screen and Intervene’ (SAI) Spaces in local areas where we screen 3-year-olds for phoneme (speech sound) articulation and phonemic awareness.

Phonemic awareness is the most common source of reading difficulties in school-aged children. We are on a mission to send ALL children to school with great phonemic awareness!

We screen, then design a unique Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) program around each child. Now that we know their starting point, this becomes possible. This is Avery’s! Share the video via vimeo 

This approach is also ideal for children with EHC funding. It is their Speech Sound Mapping Therapy program, designed to engage their unique minds. This is personalised learning with tech developed to be used anywhere, by parents.
Screening reports from our early years SAI can be used to apply for EHC funding as we are experts in the SEN field.

We can even design bespoke programs for those reception children identified during screening (high risk of dyslexia) to do with a TA when they start KS1. We take early intervention seriously.

What’s the goal? - reading for pleasure! Children with poor phonemic awareness will struggle with that because phonics will be so difficult. Let’s sort that out - support early identification of challenges and invest in SAI: PAM! No letter names or knowledge of ‘letter sounds’ are required. You can help us gather data and publish ground-breaking research that supports the idea of finding entry points and tracking how far each individual has travelled!

Avery is accelerating the PA processing speed by using the Rap! Awesome work, buddy! :-) I think I got the timing right for him to do it solo. I am designing his program, and that means understanding his ‘sweet spot’. My job is to teach him in the way that he learns - even if I never get to actually meet him! Follow his journey (and his 12-month-old brother) here on site and if this ‘personalised learning journey’ approach is of interest, please do reach out!

#InnovateUKFunded #Dyslexia #PhomemicAwareness #LearningDifferences #Phonemies #SpeechSoundMapping #EarlyIntervention

'Miss Emma'
Emma Hartnell-Baker- Neurodivergent 'Reading Whisperer' aka The Duck Hands Lady 

* SEN Specialist (Level 7)

* Previously Managed Two Outstanding Nurseries
* Appointed as an OFSTED Inspector (Early Years)
* Supported School Wide Literacy Improvement in Australia ('Most Improved in State')
* Now a Specialist (SpLD) Teacher Trainer and Doctoral Student (University of Reading)
Visit Emma Hartnell-Baker's work history and qualifications


The Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) program makes the transition to phonics much more intuitive, and easier as the children have such well developed phoneme articulation and phonemic awareness. It can be funny when they start using Received Pronunciation (RP) - which aligns with the IPA : they may sound like Miss Emma when saying some words eg 'Sound Pic Sandwich' (split digraph) 

The Speech Sound Mapping Theory posits that with a visual hook for a phoneme (Speech Sound Monsters) and accelerated phonemic awareness, along with visual and linguistic phonics (Speech Sound Pics), all children will be motivated to reach the 'self-teaching' and, therefore, 'orthographic mapping' phases earlier and with greater autonomy.


Phonemic Awareness Mastery in Reception: Before Synthetic Phonics 

In Week 1, the Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) Programme (no letters) is introduced. By the end of the week, Phase 1 is completed. This focus changes everything—they are now ABLE to learn phonics. As children taught in government-funded schools have to use synthetic phonics, my goal is to send all children to school ABLE to learn to read and spell with synthetic phonics programmes.

By implementing 'Discovery Screening' at ages 3 and 4, we can start to collect and analyse data for the education department and begin to ascertain trends—e.g., how this data aligns with their phonics screener check results and later SAT outcomes. Simply by being aware of what phonemic awareness is, parents and teachers can take action after the first session, regardless of whether they choose PAM. Interested? Please get in touch!

Teachers in Australia using the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach take this Phonemic Awareness Mastery phase really seriously.

Although 20 - 40% start reception (Prep) without the phonemic awareness they need to learn phonics by the end of week 1this has reduced dramatically. Trained TAs then give those 'learners of concern' extra support. Mastery is monitored by a specialist and data tracked. We have been doing this for over ten years. We introduce graphemes at the end of week 1. This makes the transition so much easier, and we really get to know the children as individuals!

The Reading Hut : Cracking the Reading Code

Transforming the way children learn to read for pleasure by PREVENTING difficulties learning to read. Difficulties are a passion killer! Our suite of tech solutions offer young minds a more direct route to mastering the reading code. We are connecting spoken and written English from birth, using language as an extension of who they are as individuals - how they speak, what they like to speak about, what they want to hear about! 

This means using phonemic awareness screening as the starting point. How can we plan their learning journey if we don't understand their starting points? Screen and Intervene (SAI) is at the heart of personalised learning and the development of the DIFFERENT Reading Framework. Screening for phoneme (speech sound) articulation and phonemic awareness is an innovative and highly effective way to prevent learning difficulties. By focusing on ensuring that children start school with phonemic awareness we know - from decades of research - that they are 'ready' to learn about letters, and how the 26 letters of the alphabet are used, in different combinations, to represent speech sounds on paper and learn with phonics. If a child at school is struggling to learn the read with phonics they may need to undertake our Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) Program and then go back to it.    

We are dedicated to shifting perceptions around teaching all children, including those who may have dyslexic, ADHD and are autistic, to read for pleasure. Our mission centres on understanding each child's unique needs and interests to create a truly personalised reading journey. This journey will not be smooth sailing without phonemic awareness. We believe that every child deserves a tailored approach that prioritises their needs above all else, fostering a genuine love for reading. This is why our focus is on phonemic awareness - before the introduction to letters. It means we can start the process when they are toddlers. If they understand a dog says 'woof' thy understand the concept of the Phonemies (monsters) saying a speech sound.  

At The Reading Hut Ltd, we emphasise the importance of knowing each child deeply to design an effective reading journey. We understand that children are individuals with distinct preferences, strengths, and challenges. Our approach is rooted in the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion, ensuring that every child, regardless of their learning differences, can experience the joy of reading. This means that even when they all start school with good phonemic awareness we are in a better position to shifting perceptions around the need for whole-class programmes, to focus on what interests and motivates each child as they explore the connections between spoken and written language.

We believe that the child's needs take precedence over all else. By focusing on what interests and motivates them, we can create engaging, relevant, and enjoyable reading experiences while ensuring that they develop the phonemic and orthographic awareness, vocabulary knowledge, fluency, and comprehension skills needed to read. Our innovative methods and technology enable us to assess and respond to each child's phonemic awareness, speech sound articulation, and working memory from an early age. This early intervention is crucial for setting the foundation for successful reading skills. Our tech also enables children to develop orthographic knowledge – from speech-to-print and print-to-speech – in a totally unique way. Indeed, this is HOW we are able to personalise these journeys. Many are avid readers before they start school. 

Our commitment to a child-centred approach and evidence-based solutions means we move away from one-size-fits-all programmes: phonics is an essential element of learning to read, but can we more effectively personalise the way taught? We develop phonemic awareness and also bespoke reading journeys that adapt to the child's evolving needs and interests, from a very early age. By doing so, we not only support their academic growth but also nurture their emotional and social development. Although our focus is currently on the early years, as we grow we aim to transform the future of reading education in schools globally, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to become a passionate, lifelong reader. The secret to that change will be to focus on building the new!

The Secret of Change..

Leading experts in learning difficulties and differences come together to create innovative tech-based screening solutions that facilitate bespoke intervention and acceleration programmes for individuals.
Our differences are our strengths.

Screen and Intervene from The Reading Hut - the Different Reading Framework

The Speech Sound Mapping Theory posits that with a visual hook for a phoneme (Speech Sound Monsters) and accelerated phonemic awareness, along with visual and linguistic phonics (Speech Sound Pics), all children will be motivated to reach the 'self-teaching' and, therefore, 'orthographic mapping' phases earlier and with greater autonomy.

Without Phonemic Awareness, children will struggle to understand the links with letters and would have to rely on memorising words as whole words—the traditional way to teach 'sight words'—if they cannot understand the speech sound (phoneme) to spelling correspondence. Children cannot memorise enough words for this to be a reliable long-term strategy. Speech Sound Mapping facilitates this for ALL words because we focus on phonemic awareness and making the connections visible. We teach 'visible' and 'linguistic' phonics. The GPC correspondence order may be the same, when the Speech Sound Pics approach is used in classrooms, but we can also explore other words—e.g., high-frequency words and words of interest to the child—at the same time. They don't need to wait to reach a certain point within the program 'Scope and Sequence' *start storing new words. Research by Linnea Ehri and others has demonstrated that effective phonemic awareness, combined with the connection of sounds, spellings, and meanings of words, facilitates the storage of words in the orthographic lexicon with only 1- 4 exposures. This process, known as orthographic mapping, is crucial for developing sight word recognition and fluent reading.
It cannot happen without good phonemic awareness.

Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach
Scope and Sequence for Emma Hartnell-Baker's Visual and Linguistic Phonics
Program used across Australia
It has not been launched in the UK as not a
synthetic phonics programme 

Kensi (aged 3)  is using her Duck Hands to reinforce the speech sound to spelling connection

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