In the news - Chris Thorne

10th December 2010 at 00:00

Chris, 27, is a Year 1 teacher at the Phoenix School, in north west London. In the school corridors, children have an unusual greeting for him: "Hello, 'Mr Thorne Does Phonics'". The Birmingham-born teacher has created an eponymous website to teach phonics to children, parents and teachers around the world.

Do you get recognised on the street?

Ha, not yet, but I do wear my trademark hat, just in case. My original videos on YouTube had 680,000 hits. So 236 videos later, I have created a website that officially launched at the start of November. I have had 40,000-50,000 hits already. It has achieved more than I ever thought.

You must be a whizz to create your own website?

Oh no, my technology knowledge is limited. In October half-term, I was chatting to a chap on twitter, Matt Lovegrove, an infant teacher from Reading. He found my videos really useful and said he'd help create a website. He's been instrumental in getting it live and off the ground.

Admit it: were you a phonics fanatic at school?

I went to an all-boys grammar school in Birmingham. It was very academic; there was no option for creative arts. It wasn't until I went to a phonics Inset when I was an NQT that I got into it. It was when the Rose Review had just come out, which inspired me to create the videos. My year-group partner was a literacy co-ordinator who looked after me and nurtured me. I then became the lead phonics teacher in Solihull before moving to London.

So you thought the Rose Review smelled sweet?

Yes, I think the review was great in bringing phonics to the forefront. I think his letters-and-sounds concept is fantastic. Michael Gove said a couple of weeks ago that phonics is to be tested at Year 1. I think this is good. I'm not sure about the "testing", but the importance of phonics and the Rose Review is instrumental.

Why did you decide to move to London?

The opportunities here are more apparent, it's more exciting. I could have stayed in Solihull for my whole career - I can see why many teachers stay where they are - you get comfy, but I picked myself up and didn't get into that comfort zone. I did supply teaching first, to acclimatise to the city, which is how I had time to do the videos. I now make the odd video at weekends and on a Tuesday night if I'm bored.

What is it like being a male primary teacher?

As a male primary teacher, I find you have to be in touch with the paternal side, with the instinct of nurturing. I love working for infants and I love waving the flag for male teachers in infant schools.

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