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Success For All (SFA)

What is Success for All (SFA)?

Based on extensive research, Success For All, is a Literacy programme for teaching reading and speaking and listening.  It has been used widely both in the USA and the UK and has been proven to raise standards in reading and writing. They have recently joined with FFT (Fischer Family Trust) and now have been validated by The Department of Education for their Phonics programme.

The programme covers the important elements of Literacy, including reading, speaking and listening and phonics from EYFS to Year 6. It helps to develop aspects of learning behaviour through the use of Co-operative learning strategies. Children also learn to work with others, as a team and with partners. Partner and team talk is encouraged and children make progress in lessons as a result of this. An ideal SFA lesson should mean that the children are constructively talking far more than the teachers!


Classroom organisation

Co-operative learning is at the heart of SFA ensuring that children are engaged, learning from each other and strengthening their knowledge and understanding of reading skills every day.

  • Every lesson, the children work in small teams – previously creating team names and team chants, which they use when reporting back or when they receive points.
  • Co-operative Learning enables all children to become successful learners and to develop the metacognitive skills required to become independent over time.
  • Time is given to discuss the question and answers with a partner or team before the teacher randomly chooses a pupil to give feedback. This develops a no hands-up policy and ensures that all children are prepared and able to answer.
  • Using a silent signal for active listening is key; teachers use their hand up to signal that everyone needs to be silent and actively listening, only then will the teacher address the class. Teachers use consistent standard phrases across the school: TYP – tell your partner; TPS – think, pair, share; team huddle.
  • Pupils are also encouraged to help each other through the co-operative learning standards (actively listening, completing a task, encouraging and helping others, explaining ideas and participation) to gain points for their team, aiming to win the ‘Team of the Week’ trophy.
  • The behaviours are also being carried into other areas of the curriculum.


Ability groups

Each child is placed in a group according to their reading ability so that they can access the reading and continue to have high level questioning appropriate for the text. New to school pupils are assessed using the roots assessment (passages linked to phonics acquired at different stages of the Roots programme) or NGRT (New Group Read Test by GL assessment). They are then placed in the appropriate banded group.

Teaching and learning is progressive and linked to the National Curriculum skills. More information about the programme can be found in the sections below.


Once children have started full time in Reception (approx. 3rd week into the term), they are taught all the sounds in the SFA order as well as tricky words related to Letters and Sounds (4 sounds a week). Language such as ‘phonemes’ and ‘graphemes’ are used with the children, and they are taught to count these when reading cvc words.

During the Autumn term, the children are given a book to take home and share. Parents are invited in the week the children are full time to be shown how to read with their child and informed of what is expected in relation to reading and phonics. Demonstrations are also set up (currently on Tapestry) for parents to see how phonics is taught and to gain ideas for continuing this at home.

At the end of the Autumn term, all reception children are assessed – phonic sounds, segmenting and blending and auditory blending. Once they have this information, children are grouped according to ability. The group ready for reading (26+ phonemes and auditory blending 14+ words), will be placed on the Kinder Roots programme, this teaches them how to follow the words on the page (finger placing), partner reading and listening. These also have red (tricky words) and green words linked to the book they are reading. After every two weeks, the other children are assessed again and if they are ready they move into a different reading group and start Kinder Roots books. These books are taken home alongside a sharing book.

At this stage, the other children continue to have phonics lessons with auditory blending practice and segmenting until they are ready for reading. Parents are invited in to be shown the Kinder Roots programme and this is explained to them – how they can help their child as well.

The phonics books are progressive and match the phonic patterns taught the previous week. Each digraph has a rhyme that is then used in the Roots programme, which they continue in Year 1. EG. a-e bake a cake. The use of ‘I say, you say’ (echo reading - a modelled approach to learning through a repeat after me method) is embedded at this stage.

Once children have started full time in Reception, they are taught the sounds in the SFA/Letters & Sounds order as well as tricky words related to Letters and Sounds (red words). Language such as ‘phonemes’ and ‘graphemes’ are used with the children and they are taught to count them when reading cvc words. e.g.    

c a t        f i s h

.  .  .        . . ___

Throughout EYFS, teachers demonstrate how phonics is taught and how to share an SFA (or own) text successfully at home. At the end of the Autumn term, the children are assessed against a checklist: phonic sounds, segmenting and blending and auditory blending. Children are then grouped according to ability.

The Kinder Roots Programme is for children ready for reading (26+ phonemes and auditory blending 14+ words). It is progressive and matches the phonic patterns taught (with a rhyme for each digraph). Children are taught: to follow the words on the page (finger placing), partner reading and listening. They have red (tricky words that cannot be sounded out) and green words (phonetic and soundable words) linked to the book they are reading. Children not yet in Kinder Roots, are assessed each fortnight until they are ready to move into Kinder Roots books. These books are taken home alongside a sharing, picture story book.

Roots programme - Reading age 5 years - 6 Years 9 months

At the end of Reception, the children are assessed using the Roots assessment. These determine which group and which books they should start on in the Roots program. Roots books are progressive and have linked phonics lessons that work with them. The books review phonics previously taught, as well. 

  • Blue books – 1 – 15 – simple sentence structure, very repetitive, uses ‘readles’ (picture words)
  • Orange books – 16 – 25 – simple sentence structure, more speech, repetition, uses ‘readles’
  • Green books – 26 – 37 – more complex sentence structure and longer sentences, more text, no readles
  • Purple books – 38 – 48 – much longer text, complex sentence structure, more difficult vocabulary 

Each set of books develops oral language and vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, word skills and fluency. 


Each 55 -minute lesson comprises of:

  • 20 minutes phonics, where they practise new sounds taught or review previous ones 
  • 25 minutes of reading the shared reader*, which includes vocabulary work (green and red words linked to the books – green decodable, red sight words), partner reading, guided reading or teacher interactively reading, shared story treasure hunts (comprehension questions – mainly retrieval) 
  • 10 minutes write away session – children writing a dictated sentence.

* The shared reader is the main book that the children read in the lesson and at home. It develops phonic awareness, sight vocabulary, understanding of text structure and comprehension. 


Every 8 weeks there is an assessment week for all children in Roots. During this week, they are assessed using the Roots assessment passages and comprehension questions. After which, they are grouped according to the passages and comprehension they have managed to read. Sometimes children repeat books if they have not passed the assessment. This is good practice, spiralling back to familiar texts to deepen understanding and ensure phonic gaps are filled. Once a child has reached and passed passage 9 (the last passage), the children are tested for fluency (WPM – words per minute) – this is then used as a measure throughout the rest of their years at the school. 

Wings programme - Reading age from 7 years

The Wings programme is for children with a reading age 7.0 years and above and includes a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts that link to Foundation Subjects. The range of fiction books covers classic, traditional, modern and online books as well as poetry and play scripts. The program is progressively challenging.

  • Wings 1 is a transitional unit (8 books) and is optional how many books are used. It can be used to help the children adjust from Roots to Wings as it dovetails both programmes. 
  • Wings 2 – 5 have 3 phases within them that build on the skills of reading learnt previously in Roots and moves into understanding and clarifying vocabulary (the understanding and meaning of words) in context. They are all linked to National Curriculum objectives.
  • The Quest programme follows on from Wings 5 and includes Manga and graphic novels and has more analysising of complex texts. 

Classroom Organisation

This is exactly the same as the Roots programme, where teams of 4 (max 5) are put together so that they can work collaboratively in the lesson. These teams may change after several weeks, but careful placement make this unnecessary until the 8-week assessment block. They continue to work together to gain points based on the co-operative learning standards. 

Savvy Reader 

Each Wings phase has a ‘Savvy Reader’ connected to it, which teaches the children questioning* (Wings 2 only) and clarifying* (all Wings) skills in order to prepare them for reading the books within that phase. These include fiction and non-fiction texts and teaches them specific skills, which they will be expected to use in the proceeding units. 

*Questioning - asking a variety of questions about a text and begin to answer questions with correct, complete information. 

*Clarifying - skills that help them to understand the meaning of words: Use context, reread it, read on, use dictionaries or a thesaurus, ask for help.


This is a 50-minute session, which includes 5 key elements every day: 

Vocabulary – there are 10 words every week (some books last more than one week). The words are displayed for the week and children are shown the word, the meaning and the word in context. 

Interactive reading – the leader reads some of the text and thinks aloud modelling how they clarify and summarise. Leaders also model writing answers to treasure hunt questions and how to score each other for fluency. 

Partner reading – while partner A reads, B must listen and follow the text and then summarise (no more than 5 key points) what has been read. Partners swap around. During this time, the leader listens to the reading. Children can read anything from one paragraph to one chapter before summarising. This is dependent on ability, maturity and length of book.

Fluency checks – every day the children are expected to score their partner for their fluency. This includes expression, accuracy and intonation. At the end of the week, the teacher will set a passage for them to read within a minute. This is then used to record their words per minute. 

Treasure hunts – every day there are questions for the children to discuss with their partner or team. The first day is discussion, the second and third day is discussion and written answers – this is where the teacher can check understanding and model answers if needed. The fourth day is individual check day – a set of questions that must be answered independently with no prior discussion. These are also marked out of 10 or 100. The fifth day is the review day; children and teacher go through the questions to either improve them or reteach them. 


Throughout Wings, the children are taught to identify certain question types to help them answer them and locate in the text. During the Wings 2 phases, the children are explicitly told the question types until they become au fait with the terminology. Then pupils start identifying these themselves and writing the codes in the margin.

Copycat – these are retrieval questions – words/phrases should be in the text

Text Detective – inference – the answer is in your head, but you need evidence from the text to back it up (reading between the lines).

Judge and Jury - when you need to deduce, infer, interpret information, events or ideas from the text.

Prediction – when they have to foretell what will happen next using evidence from the text to support their idea.

Vocabulary – Find and copy words/phases, meanings of words in the text

Comparison – Comparing events, characters and structure of the text

Relationship – Talking about the structure of the text

Word choice – Talk about the effect of words and phrases used in the text on the reader

Summarising – Find and talk about the text’s main points

Later in the Year 6 revision programme, these question types are broken down into 12 more specific question types to help prepare for SAT-like questions. 


Wings children have weekly individual checks and WPM scores that are used to keep check on whether they are in the correct reading group or phase. During the 8-week assessment week, undertaken by Roots, the Wings children will have SFA in class. This is an opportunity for teachers to check their scheme reading book is still appropriate and to teach some common reading skills work with groups or whole class – taken from QLA (Question level analysis - what type of questions children are strong at and which need improving). They also have the chance to use PIXL resources – therapies, walk talk through tests to fill any gaps from the QLA or develop answering skills, techniques. During this week, some children may be moved into another group after discussions with the SFA leader and consulting Individual check scores and WPM. Additionally, fluency checks are administered and a WPM (words per minute) score and summarising score is recorded. This information is used and recorded on a central spread sheet so that progress can be monitored. Tests (used by thousands of schools across the UK and compared) are taken by Year 3 – 5 at the beginning of the year and the end of the academic year; this is also used as a measure of progress and to check who is on track.

Off track readers

Children who are off track are identified within a week to 2 weeks and both the class teacher and SFA leader are informed. Barriers to learning are recorded and action needed to ensure that they catch up. Interventions take place, for example fluency, and are reviewed every 6 – 8 weeks. 


All children are included in SFA groupings, which is the “Success for all” vision - where a child cannot access the SFA programme, other provision is put in place, and where possible they dip in and out for parts of the session. 

 Precision teaching, 1 to 1 supported in the SFA lessons, Project X (small group using the Project X – Oxford University Press – books in the style of SFA).