A VILLAGE primary school has become the first in the North-East to achieve a coveted award for its teaching of reading and writing.

Hurworth Primary School, near Darlington, has been named a Little Wandle Champion School by Wandle and Little Sutton English Hubs, an organisation that pioneers effective ways of teaching phonics to children.

Hurworth Primary, which is part of the Lingfield Education Trust, became the first school in the North-East to achieve the accolade after introducing a renewed and improved phonics system.

Alison Maddison, Hurworth Primary’s head teacher, said: “We’re overjoyed and proud to have been recognised as the North-East’s first Little Wandle Champion School.

“This isn’t an accolade that is given out lightly – to qualify, we’ve been subjected to intense scrutiny and had to prove we meet and exceed 16 standards of excellence in the teaching of early reading and phonics.

“This has helped to significantly raise literacy levels across the school. The children and the staff have worked incredibly hard, and with fantastic support from parents, our children are reading with better fluency, understanding, and enjoyment than ever.”

The Northern Echo: Teacher Mrs Jennie Elliott uses the Little Wandle system to teach phonics to her Year 1 classTeacher Mrs Jennie Elliott uses the Little Wandle system to teach phonics to her Year 1 class (Image: Chris Barron)

There are more than 4,000 schools in the UK which use the Little Wandle phonics system to teach reading and writing, but only ten have demonstrated a sufficient standard to earn Champion status.

Hurworth Primary will now become a beacon and model for other local schools keen to emulate its success.

“As a Champion School, we’ll be inviting other schools to visit and see Little Wandle in action, and share the wonderful work our children and staff are doing,” explained Mrs Maddison.

“We’re looking forward to helping other schools along the path to developing phonics teaching, not only ensuring that every child is able to read and write to a high level, but hopefully also inspiring a life-long love of reading and writing in our children.”