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The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach
The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach - Visit the Australian Shop  h

The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach
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Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) in Reception: Before Phonics 

In a classroom setting in week 1, the Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) Programme (with no letters) is introduced. By the end of the week, Phase 1 is completed for most. 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.

However, by implementing 'Discovery Screening' at ages 3 and 4, we can be even more proactive, and 'catch' more children before they fail. 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.

This shows it in action in a classroom setting. I trained thousands of teachers for over a decade across Australia.


Teachers in Australia using the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach take this Phonemic Awareness Mastery phase really seriously. Duck Hands, Lines and Numbers (the spelling routine) becomes part of daily life, and continues throughout the primary grades.
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!

Tracking PAM data.

The transition to 'Sound Pics'
(graphemes) is quick and easy when children have phonemic awareness as they simply 'follow the monster sounds to say the word' with letters, as they did during Phase 1 (PAM)

Hundreds of child-centric, passionate early years and SEN teachers getting ready for PAM in Week 1 of Reception! Learning to use 'Duck Hands' together! Duck Hands, (Speech Sound) Lines and (Speech Sound) Numbers are vital, for speedy phonemic awareness mastery. Teachers had fun learning the Monster Spelling Routine. 

Miss Emma

I was honoured to have been invited to support so many schools over the years.

The approach is embedded school wide
(KS2 equivalent)

Used for intervention in high school 

I trained thousands of teachers to use 'different' (innovative and neuro-inclusive) strategies eg to improve spelling skills and the fluency and comprehension of slow decoders - to more easily store words in their 'brain word bank'.

Components of the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach: The 5 Core Programmes

1.    Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) Programme: This standalone programme precedes phonics instruction and can be used by parents and teachers. The Speech Sound Mapping technology is utilised within this phase.

2.    Core Code Levels (CCL) Programme: A standalone linguistic and visual phonics programme that teaches grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) covered in synthetic phonics programmes, along with code level readers. An assessment pack* is included to track progress and provide data on the mastery of phonics skills expected to develop within The Reading Framework.

3.    Speedy Sight Words (SSW) Programme: This standalone programme teaches children to read and spell over 400 high-frequency words, with the flexibility to order words according to teacher or parent preference. It uses video lessons and Speech Sound Mapping technology to reinforce learning, emphasising the connection between speech, spelling, and meaning with the Ortho-Graphix mindset.

4.    Reading for Pleasure (RFP) Programme: This standalone programme applies Ortho-Graphix to a reading series of 150 books. Speech Sound Mapping is used in real reading contexts, with books progressively building word count and featuring high-frequency words. Children using the CCL programme can start this once they reach the end of the Purple Code Level **. The initial 50 books are mapped, but then children read the regular format and can use the clickable library to only click when needed, building independence and confidence. Children using CCL can start this when they reach the end of the Purple Code Level, and any texts can be imported for exploration, including the 1,2,3 and Away series. Within RFP Snap and Crack and Rapid Writing are used.

5.    Speedy Six Spelling (SSS) Programme: A standalone whole-school programme centred around six core activities, with words chosen based on student needs. The Speech Sound Mapping technology is crucial. Spending 10-25 minutes a day on these activities boosts spelling skills and helps store more words in the orthographic lexicon.

Through an Ortho-Graphix® mindset, the Speech Sound Pics® approach offers a comprehensive suite of programmes designed to facilitate speech, spelling, and early reading for pleasure by combining visual and linguistic methods. This approach includes not only phonics but also robust programmes for improving speech, phonemic awareness, high-frequency word recognition, and a reading series designed to engage children meaningfully. By encouraging exploration and understanding of the written code with an 'Ortho-Graphix® mindset,' children can quickly develop the skills needed for reading, writing, and clear speech, enhancing their ability to enjoy and engage with texts independently.

All packages will be released shortly. Express your interest now to stay updated.




Code Level Readers with Levelled Readers

Data collected over a five-year period demonstrates statistical significance regarding the timing of exposure to levelled readers. The findings indicate that it is not a question of whether to expose students to levelled readers, but when to do so.

When children have mastered the Green and Purple Code Level skills (CCL), they can start on Levelled Readers (around PM 10 - 12) or the 1, 2, 3 and Away Books. This accelerates learning growth as the children are exposed to more of the code. By focusing at all times on the connection between speech, spelling, and meaning, the books we use are mapped. This further accelerates their learning pace.

Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach

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

Scope and Sequence for Emma Hartnell-Baker's Visual and Linguistic Phonics Program used across Australia. SSP has not been launched in the UK as it is not a synthetic phonics programme 

Within the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach a range of core activities are used school-wide eg the Speedy Six (Spelling) and also Snap and Crack (comprehension) Rapid Writing etc. They all complement one another.  

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