Debbie campaigned extensively over many years to achieve national, evidence-based, systematic synthetic phonics teaching in primary schools. As a representative of the UK Reading Reform Foundation, she advised the British government for the parliamentary inquiry ‘Teaching Children to Read’ (March 2005) and she helped to inform Sir Jim Rose’s’ Independent review of the teaching of early reading’ (Final Report, Jim Rose, March 2006).
She is known to be a controversial and inspirational speaker and has spoken alongside Sir Jim Rose at literacy conferences. Debbie has written many challenging articles for educational magazines and for many years she has provided practical advice for parents, teaching professionals, teacher-trainers, politicians, publishers and manufacturers.
Debbie put her broad primary teaching and teacher-training experience to very good use when designing the Phonics International programme.
She has developed extremely effective resources which inform parents fully, really support busy teachers and ensure that every learner has plenty of practice of learning the alphabetic code knowledge and the three core skills of reading, spelling and writing in a very focused way.
Acknowledging Debbie’s expertise and her impressive Phonics International body of work, Debbie was invited to be the phonics consultant for the ‘Oxford Reading Tree Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters programme’ (Oxford University Press). This very comprehensive, systematic synthetic phonics programme for infants is now published and has been extremely well-received in the UK and overseas.
More recently, Debbie worked with Raintree Publishing in the UK to produce ‘No Nonsense Phonics Skills‘ – initially aimed at ‘intervention’, but very quickly it was realised this was a programme perfectly suited for mainstream teaching – as well as teaching where English is a second or additional language.
To meet the demand for teacher training, Debbie has built an international teacher-training team ‘Debbie Hepplewhite Synthetic Phonics Training‘.
Both Phonics International and Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters programmes as well as the training provision were recognised by the British government as fulfilling the official ‘Core Criteria’ for ‘Systematic Synthetic Phonics’. They were therefore listed in the national ESPO catalogue (government match funding for schools in England only).
For the busy teacher, parent or school, Debbie has also produced an online training programme (Phonics Training Online). This allows self-study at a pace to suit individual circumstances.
In 2011, Debbie was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for services to education.