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Leeds businesses help solve phonics headache

Two Leeds-based businesses partner to help launch innovative new phonics programme

Yorkshire-based digital educational publishing business Mactivity Enterprises has partnered with digital agency madeby.studio – to help teachers save time and make phonics fun whilst helping pupils make rapid progress – by creating a new innovative synthetic phonic programme Time for Phonics. The project has been supported with grant funding from the AD:VENTURE scheme, which helps businesses based in West and North Yorkshire.

With many teachers juggling the many varied demands of their job, a particular challenge has been helping children make progress in phonics learning whilst keeping them engaged in a meaningful and practical way.

Award-winning Time for Phonics offers fun and engaging online games, play-based practical phonics lessons and activities, writing and reading activities, in-built phonics training, plus a set of reading books that each incorporate a diverse range of characters that children find irresistible – and that actually reflect the world we live in. It is a complete systematic phonics programme for primary schools.

Heather McAvan is the Founder of Time for Phonics. She is also a former teacher, parent of 3 and founder of well-established Early Years and primary resources site Mrs Mactivity.

“During the first lockdown it was really difficult to engage my 4 year old daughter in phonics learning. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to create a platform with all the phonics know-how built in, that children are keen to learn from, that also helps teachers save time and upskills their own phonics knowledge. The platform started out as a series of online phonics games for parents and has transitioned into a full phonics programme for schools. The fun characters have been a huge hit with my daughter and she doesn’t even know she’s learning!”

“Working with designer Hayley Price alongside the Madeby.Studio team has been an absolute dream and we’re all aligned with making learning fun for kids and taking the load off teachers. We’ve already had lots of schools sign up for Time for Phonics and have been thrilled with the reaction to the programme. Both companies have also been recognised as being in the Digital Enterprise Top 100 in Yorkshire, which is a huge accolade, and the icing on the cake for us was receiving a prestigious industry award, and being shortlisted for an Education Resource Award, as well as attending the awards ceremony alongside many other well-known education companies.

Before setting up this phonics programme, I had some knowledge of WordPress sites, but very little real digital and tech experience. I have learned a huge amount along the way and can only say to other people looking to set up their own tech business to go for it. What you don’t know, you can learn, or ask other people to help you with. There is a huge amount of support out there if you are willing to look for it.”

The programme has also been submitted to the Department for Education to become an accredited and validated phonics scheme, with the DfE seal of approval.