We are happy to say That Reading Thing has been meeting the criteria of the Reading Framework (DfE 2021) since 2003.

Please see the section headed, “Older pupils who need to catch up”, p67-71.

Is TRT SSP? (structured synthetic phonics)

TRT meets the SSP criteria fully. It is referred to as linguistic phonics due to its sound-to-print orientation which is arguably more suitable for young people who have struggled to lift text off a page for many years. It is tightly structured and students learn how to synthesise sounds all through a word for reading (hence 'synthetic'). Every TRT lesson develops the skills of blending and segmenting for both reading and spelling and gradually increases knowledge of the English code. The teaching of grapheme-phoneme correspondences is ordered from simple to complex in age-appropriate vocabulary.

Decodable text

There is decodable practice text built into each of the TRT Foundation Levels but we discourage the use of reading schemes unless the student has complex educational needs. The pace of TRT is so fast that adhering to an external decodable reading scheme would limit the pace at which our students improve. Making 'authentic text' accessible for our students is much more appropriate as it draws on their prior knowledge and builds vocabulary necessary for engaging in a secondary curriculum. See this blog post for more about decodable text for secondary age students.


TRT Level 1 is a word reading assessment that reveals decoding gaps and predicts how quickly a student will move through the programme. The important issue for older students is knowing the severity of their decoding gaps, not just that they exist. The structure of TRT allows the student as well as the teacher to "detect their own progress". (Brooks, 2012). We ask schools to use their preferred summative assessment tools.

Students with good comprehension but poor word reading

Students with poor reading but without serious learning needs make very quick progress. Multi-syllabic words are included from the first lesson so students are spelling ‘establishment’ in the 2nd or 3rd hour and ‘recognition’ and ‘instruction’ soon after. Most recent comment from a teacher:

I haven’t met a student that it’s not worked for. A 14 year old who couldn’t read three letter CVC words was reading a full page of A4 (including 3-4 syllable words) after just 4 x 45 minute sessions. It’s non-patronising and so effective.

ESOL students with good word reading but poor word comprehension

A student with a first language other than English but who has a good level of spoken English is just like a native speaker in TRT. A student who does not understand simple spoken English needs much more vocabulary instruction and their TRT lessons will require careful planning to include relevant words grouped by both sound and meaning.


SEND teachers around the world use That Reading Thing with their students. They move slower than their ‘just missed it’ peers but they make progress even if they’ve had many interventions before. Most recent feedback from a KS3/4 SENCO is: (in addition to reading gains)

We've also seen other 'ripple effects' such as increased confidence and seeing themselves as readers and successful in an area where they will have had lots of intervention with limited progress in the past.

‘Avoid programmes specifically designed for younger children’

TRT is a very rare phonics programme for use with students older than 13. TRT is a phonics based pedagogy specifically designed for secondary aged students. It can also be used within adult literacy and year 6/7 transition but not with younger children. It is age-appropriate in all of content, pace and ethos. Read more about what makes a structured and sequential phonics programme suitable for teens and adults.

Short term intervention as part of the continued development of language and vocabulary

That Reading Thing itself should only last a term or two with students moving into small group spelling work. Our spelling CPD ensures that all staff have a grounding in how to use phonics and morphology for improving spelling and vocabulary across the curriculum.

Staff training, support and coaching

TRT training is completely flexible; some schools train 2 staff and others train 20. Get in touch for a conversation about what will suit your school best. We also work with county-wide SpLD teams, alternative provision, PRUs & colleges.

Download how TRT meets the criteria of the DfE Reading Framework. Opens as a pdf

Download the DfE Reading Framework document. Opens as a pdf.