Tameside teachers’ scheme sounds like a national award

TWO TAMESIDE teachers are celebrating after their spelling scheme for schoolchildren won a national award.

Jillian Warburton and Emma Skeldon are the brains behind Scode Spelling, which concentrates on phonics – the sounds created by letters.

Normally reserved for very young kids, this encourages a similar learning experience for slightly older pupils.

After first being picked up in Tameside two years ago, Stalybridge’s Millbrook Primary was the first to trial it, it has now been picked up around the country, as far away as Jersey, Newcastle, London and Sussex.

And the pair behind the scheme attended a ceremony in London, where they won the Education Business Award – Primary Resource 2023.

Tameside Teachers Award Win – Jillian in red, Emma in blue, with Donna Fraser

“I am a primary teacher of 22 years but a couple of years ago a friend approached me about a spelling scheme idea for schools,” said Jillian, who is a specialist SEN teacher in Stockport and lives in Stalybridge.

“I received a text, in the middle of a pandemic, about a phonics-based spelling idea. I was intrigued at what Emma was suggesting – phonics in key stage two.

“When I looked at the work she sent through, it all made sense and I thought about how I taught spelling.

“It wasn’t consistent, it wasn’t phonics and despite my best efforts, spelling was still a problem as some children didn’t learn or apply the rules.

Tameside Teachers Award Win – Jillian in red, Emma in blue, with St Damian’s business manager Angela Ogden

“I knew Scode offered something new. We wrote it and it’s now taking off.  Emma and I have worked like trojans to produce a complete scheme.

“Now many schools in Tameside are using us as well as up and down the country. Winning the award is brilliant recognition for Scode and shows that it works.

Emma, who lives in Mossley and works at Hyde’s Alder Community High school, came up with the Scode idea after her own daughter, Grace, was diagnosed with dyslexia.

She said: “I was at a loss to help my daughter with her spelling difficulties.

“It was clear Grace needed to retrace her phonics steps but the lack of age-appropriate resources made it extremely difficult and frustrating.

“I decided to take it upon myself to improve the chances of my daughter and others in her position.

“Scode was slowly created – a phonics-based scheme for older children based on sounds and their codes, which had an immediate impact on Grace’s spelling.”

Jillian and Emma both step away from the classroom at the end of this year but on June 14, they were at the Leonardo Royal London St Paul’s for the Education Business Awards.

And in their category, they saw off four other nominees to pick up the prize, which recognised a new and innovative educational product or service which supports teaching and increases pupil engagement in primary schools.

The panel said: “Teaching Etymology engages children and can help them develop advanced language skills.

“Phonics-based spelling scheme Scode covers the entire National Curriculum for years 2-6 using illustrated workbooks, slides and assessment trackers to make spelling stick through continuous practice.

“According to teachers, Scode makes their life easier.”

Amazingly, they weren’t the only winners from Tameside as Ashton-under-Lyne’s St Damian’s RC Science College picked up the Outstanding Progress – Secondary School award.

The panel added: “Celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year, St Damian’s incredible improvement journey started in 2010 whilst in special measures.

“Since being rated as ‘outstanding’ in 2017, the school has continued to deliver an exceptional education for all students, who consistently perform above the national average – the direct result of quality teaching and a rich, ambitious curriculum.”

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