Debbie Hepplewhite

Phonics teacher trainer/consultant and author. Founder Phonics International Ltd.
Speaking at


What’s ‘holding back’ research-informed foundational literacy from reaching all teachers and learners?

Debbie argues that we need a transparent review of both teacher education and the realities of foundational literacy practice in England so that we can build on findings to date. Worryingly and inadequately, any surveys about phonics are based on teachers’ opinions rather than taking a close look at the bigger picture: teacher-training, professional understanding and teaching provision. We therefore have no national helpful analysis nor clarity as to how best to move forwards. The Education Endowment Foundation, despite massive funding and a remit to serve disadvantaged children, shockingly fails to understand what phonics provision can, and should, ‘look like’, and what results we can expect. Many may think that ‘systematic synthetic phonics’ is proved, officially promoted and adopted, and ‘job done’ – but this is not the case.

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Debbie has campaigned extensively for evidence-informed, systematic synthetic phonics teaching in primary schools. On behalf of the UK Reading Reform Foundation, she advised the government’s inquiry Teaching Children to Read (March 2005) and Sir Jim Rose’s Independent Review (Final Report, Jim Rose, March 2006). A former teacher, headteacher and special needs teacher, she is known to be a controversial and inspirational speaker and writer. In 2012, Debbie was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for services to education. Debbie is a founding committee member of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction (IFERI): .