What do the teachers and teaching assistants who have attended our courses recently think about the course?

"I really enjoyed this course - it was the most useful thing I've done since my PGCE (20 years ago)."

Sounds WriteSounds Write

Meet The Team


John WalkerJohn

John Walker is the director and co-author (with Susan Case and David Philpot) of Sounds-Write.

John has been a qualified teacher, university lecturer and teacher trainer for over thirty years, teaching English language and literature in many different countries and settings. He is a graduate of the University of Sussex and holds master degrees from the Universities of Sussex and Warwick. He is qualified in the teaching of English as a foreign language and holds an advanced certificate in English language teaching from the University of Edinburgh.

He trains teaching practitioners in Sounds-Write and promotes the Sounds-Write programme in schools and other educational institutions across the world. In addition, he was an associate lecturer for the Open University, teaching on Discovering English and Children’s Literature, in addition to several early years courses.

John is an enthusiastic edu-blogger, who posts regularly on all aspects of literacy teaching at his site theliteracyblog.com.



Dr. Derrie Clark

Derrie has been a chartered child and educational psychologist (EP) for over twenty years.  She has specialised in literacy for the major part of this period and completed a doctorate in the field.  Her interest in literacy arose as a result of the countless referrals from schools and parents for children struggling to develop reading and writing skills.  

Derrie came across Sounds-Write at its inception in 2003.  Having been an early-years’ teacher and then an EP, the clear progression of the Sounds-Write approach and the ongoing assessment through teaching it facilitated, proved it to be an effective tool for identifying gaps in children’s literacy development.  At the same time it provided those who had received the Sounds-Write training with research based knowledge and teaching strategies to close those gaps.  She quickly realised that any individual working with children should have access to the Sounds-Write training.

Derrie has been training in Sounds-Write for over ten years.  She continues to work as an EP whilst also providing tutoring to young people with literacy difficulties:  from an autistic six-year old at the beginning of his reading journey to a Year 9 grammar school pupil needing help to improve his spelling.  


Sue Russell

Sue RussellSue Russell graduated from Northampton University (UCN) with a First Class BAQTS specialising in English and taught in various Northampton Primary schools before delivering the Parent Support Advisor Project and then the Extended Services Agenda for Northants County Council.

In 2012 she found Sounds-Write and became a trainer which she combined with working for Bournemouth Borough Council as a SENDIASS Coordinator.

Now working solely as a Sounds-Write Trainer she has trained over 1,500 trainees on 103 courses from 194 different schools (end of 2019).

Thanks Sue. They all really enjoyed the training and have come back with so much confidence! Portfield Pri Ac

Sounds very Write!  Thank you for such a fantastic and engaging course and we’re genuinely so excited to go back into school tomorrow and share our learning with our classes!   You are so full of knowledge and your passion for what you do is inspiring.  Milldown Ac


Theresa Plummer

Theresa was a Specialist Senior teacher who implemented Sounds-Write at St George’s CE Primary School in London.  She had responsibility for early reading, writing and phonics for over 20 years. At St George’s she developed her practice as a Sounds-Write teacher, responsible for ensuring that all children achieved age-appropriate reading, writing and spelling by the age of 7.

Theresa is an experienced Sounds-Write Trainer and is also a Phonics Auditor for the English Hubs. She runs training courses in London and around the country.


Ashraf Samsudin, BSc, MEd.


Ashraf is the Specialist Education Consultant at SPELD Victoria where he provides, coordinates and develops the organisation’s Educational Services.

Based in Melbourne, Ashraf presents a wide variety of workshops where his presentation style has been described as clear, engaging and fun. He enjoys facilitating sessions where knowledge, experiences and good practice can be shared amongst those that he trains.

Previously, Ashraf spent the last 14 years teaching and coaching students with learning difficulties in Singapore at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. His last role as the Director of Specialised Education Services has seen him taking the lead in various curriculum development projects; teacher training initiatives; presenting in numerous local and international workshops; and collaborating with educators to implement initiatives in schools to promote inclusivity for students with learning difficulties.

He is a strong advocate for the disadvantaged and has been very active in spreading the awareness of learning difficulties around the world.

Ashraf holds a Master’s Degree in Education and Educational Leadership from Monash University; and a Double Diploma Dyslexia and Teaching & Training from the University of Cambridge, UK.

When Ashraf isn’t presenting, he is listening to classical music, enjoying chocolate and chai lattes, and exploring his new home in Melbourne with his family.

Pam Heath

Pam is an Improvement Adviser, Vulnerable Pupils and Phonics Lead in Bedford Borough. She has been a Sounds~ Write trainer for 8 years. Prior to her current post Pam had considerable teaching experience in both the primary and secondary phases. During her career she has worked closely with pupils encountering literacy difficulties and has also provided input, guidance and support to schools in order to improve phonics outcomes at whole school and individual pupil level.

Pam says ‘I believe that enabling children to develop good word level skills is vital to their future educational success. I am a Sounds~Write trainer because I have seen a first-hand the positive impact of this well-structured, evidence based, programme’. 


Sarah Horner

Sarah Horner



Sarah Horner is an experienced specialist teacher and literacy trainer. She has taught in a variety of situations, across the primary and secondary ranges, both in England and overseas. This experience includes class, group and individual teaching. Over the past twenty years she has combined teaching children with literacy difficulties with the training of teachers and support staff in a linguistic phonics approach to reading. She teaches in a primary school and at the Bloomfield Learning Centre in London, as well as delivering Sounds-Write training.



Charlotte MacKechnie

Charlotte MacKechnie has a First Class BA (Hons) in Primary Teaching from Kingston University and a Master of Arts in Educational Practice from the University of Roehampton.  She has been a teacher for the STEP Academy Trust since 2014, and has used Sounds-Write in the classroom since 2015 in Reception, Year 1 and Year 5.  From 2015 – 2019, Charlotte coordinated phonics at Angel Oak Academy in Peckham, where she led the implementation of a whole-school approach to teaching reading and spelling through Sounds-Write; the percentage of students who achieve the expected standard on the Phonics Screening Check, at Angel Oak Academy, is well above average, and the majority of students score 40/40 on the check.  

Charlotte now works for the STEP Ahead Teaching School Alliance, as Reading Development Lead, where she teaches on their Teacher Education (PGCE) and Teacher Development (NQT, NQT+1 and NPQ) programmes.  She is also a specialist leader of education for phonics, English and leadership of CPD.


Louise McMullan

A native of Leeds, Louise McMullan currently lives and works in Northern Ireland.  She is married and has three teenage girls.  She has been a qualified teacher for twenty years and a Sounds-Write trainer for the past seven years.  She is the only Sounds-Write trainer in Ireland and organises Sounds-Write courses both north and south of the border.   As well as organising  and leading Sounds-Write courses and school based trainings, Louise teaches two days each week in a large primary school and two days each week for the education authority, working with dyslexic children, 1:1.  After school, Louise uses the Sounds-Write programme to teach children struggling with literacy to read and write in private tutorials (with an interested parent present), at her home.  



Frances Woodward

Frances Woodward is a qualified teacher, holding a Cert.Ed and B.Ed from Birmingham University. She has over twenty years experience teaching in primary schools in various parts of England, Scotland and Canada. For the past fourteen years she has specialised francesin the teaching of reading, using linguistic phonics, working with both children and adults.

She is currently an Associate Lecturer at Bedford College of Further Education, working with students with reading problems. She has a special interest in the use of Sounds-Write with ESOL learners (English for Speakers of Other Languages). She has worked with Adult Community Learning, running Literacy classes for Entry Level learners and is now managing similar classes at Bedford College.  She has written two books of resources for older learners, which are designed to be used alongside the Sounds-Write programme. Visit: www.forwardwithphonics.com


Lala Worrall

Lala has 35 years' experience teaching in Primary, Special and Secondary education, working as a class teacher, specialist SEN teacher and SENCo. Her current position is as an advisory teacher for Inclusion, working for the Targeted Educational Support Service in Wigan. For the past 14 years she has supported teachers, TAs, pupils and parents in this role.

She also manages the Specialist Teaching Team and has ensured that all teachers and Teaching assistants use this programme as their primary method in teaching children to read and write. In addition, she runs and co-ordinates Sounds-Write courses within Wigan Authority. Lala feels privileged to have the opportunity to deliver Sounds-Write training in Wigan schools, and also to support staff in establishing good working practice in the Sounds-Write method following their initial training.

Emma Darwin

Emma DarwinEmma is an experienced early years and lower primary teacher who currently teaches full time in a large primary school in North Yorkshire. She has seen the amazing results that the Sounds-Write programme has given to the pupils in her school since training with John Walker in 2015.  Emma is now the phonics leader in school and supports the delivery of the programme throughout EYFS/KS1 and the intervention groups into KS2.  Emma is passionate about ensuring no child is left behind on their reading and writing journey, and believes Sounds-Write is the perfect programme to achieve this. 




Naomi Hinton

Naomi HintonSince qualifying in 2010, Naomi has taught and led across the primary age range in two National Support Schools. She was an Assistant Headteacher in London before moving to Yorkshire where she teaches phonics in KS1 and KS2, both in the classroom and as an intervention. Naomi provides regular support for KS2 teachers using the Sounds-Write approach in their teaching of reading and spelling. Naomi has a First Class Honours degree in English Language from Newcastle University, where she chose to study child language acquisition and history of the English language alongside core linguistics modules in phonology, morphology and syntactic structure. She lives in York with her husband and two young daughters.   


Kim Bloor

Kim is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist with extensive experience delivering professional learning to schools throughout Western Australia.Kim Bloor

She has worked at DSF since 2010 and is a popular Sounds~Write trainer. As a senior psychologist at DSF, Kim supervises clinical staff, and regularly consults with families and teachers. Since completing her Sounds~Write training, Kim has been using the program with students and regularly works with school staff on the implementation of Sounds~Write at a classroom and school level. For more on Sounds-Write in Australia, see our 'Australia' page.


Margie Backhouse

Margie is both a primary teacher with 26 years’ experience and a fully registered Sounds~Write trainer. She has specialised in learning difficulties and literacy and held a number of senior positions in this area. Margie has worked at DSF for four years and since 2013 has been running Sounds~Write training both on-site at DSF and off-site at schools. She has taught Sounds~Write in a whole class teaching situation, in small groups and to individual students, including via an online classroom. Margie’s view is that Sounds~Write results in better teaching. For more on Sounds-Write in Australia, see our 'Australia' page.

Alison Perry

Alison Perry

Alison is a speech pathologist and Sounds-Write Trainer with over 10 years of experience working with preschool and school-aged children with communication, literacy and learning difficulties. She is the owner of Soundality, a private speech pathology practice in Brisbane, Queensland.

Since training with John Walker in 2013, Alison has seen the success of the Sounds-Write program in a range of setting, including her own individual and small group therapy sessions. She is a popular and passionate Sounds-Write presenter and has trained hundreds of teachers, parents, tutors and speech pathologists across Australia in this highly effective approach to teaching reading and spelling. Alison has an engaging manner and a knack for explaining complex ideas in simple ways.

For more on Sounds-Write in Australia, see our 'Australia' page.



Lisa Watts

Lisa has a Masters in Educational and Developmental Psychology, as well as a Dip. Ed.

Before joining DSF Lisa worked for the Western Australia Department of Education and managed a team of Psychologists, Teachers and Education Assistants who supported and planned for students with complex educational needs. This included mentoring teachers and providing consultations for whole school and classroom planning.

Lisa has been utilising synthetic phonic programs remedially for over seven years, and uses Sounds~Write with the students she tutors. She has seen the positive impact of the programme on struggling students. For more on Sounds-Write in Australia, see our 'Australia' page.



Maureen McDaniell

Maureen’s experience as a teacher has been varied since she graduated in 1973. As a high school teacher she witnessed the decline in literacy standards over the decades and when she decided in 2011 to specialise in teaching literacy she sought a programme that would provide primary school students with their best prospects for success – Sounds Write.  Following her studies at Curtin University Maureen was introduced to the Sounds Write programme.

As a graduate from the first Sounds-Write training in Western Australia in 2013 Maureen rapidly found she was in demand in the South-West region of Western Australia.

Now, as an experienced practitioner and trainer, Maureen brings to her Sounds Write training a practical, in-depth understanding of the challenges facing teachers and parents in delivering effective literacy programmes in schools and at home.

Maureen has also been a determined advocate for the promotion and effective implementation of Sounds-Write in the South West region of Western Australia and works closely with teachers and parents to support the post training implementation of the programme. 


James Lyra

James LyraJames Lyra is a registered early childhood teacher and paediatric occupational therapist. He has held roles as a classroom teacher, an occupational therapist and as literacy specialist and curriculum coordinator at one of the largest high schools in Western Australia (Enrolment of 2300+ students). James currently resides in Canberra, ACT, where he teaches part-time and runs his private practice - FIRST Occupational Therapy.

The complementary nature of his qualifications, broad professional experience and current use of Sounds-Write (both in his teaching role and clinical work) enables James to bring a comprehensive perspective to his Sounds-Write training courses. James has a strong ability to communicate effectively and provide engaging professional learning that is well timed and paced. He can facilitate discussions while incorporating participant perspectives, which promote the rigorous exchange of ideas.           

Helen Hampton

Helen is a Specialist literacy tutor and Sounds Write trainer. Helen Hampton

Her interest in literacy and linguistic phonics stemmed from working with her severely dyslexic daughter fifteen years ago.  In 2011, realising the lack of local specialist literacy support for families in similar circumstances, she set up a tutoring service to support primary and secondary students struggling to acquire literacy skills.  

Since completing her training with John Walker in Perth 2013, she has been using Sounds Write in her practice to successfully tutor individual students on a weekly basis.  

Based in Margaret River, Helen delivers Sounds Write courses across the South West region of Western Australia and other remote regional areas.  She also provides post training coaching to schools and other education professionals. 

In addition to her literacy experience, Helen has an extensive background in adult vocational education, industry training and management.

What is Sounds-Write


Watch our video introduction