A comparison was made of 10-year-old boys and girls who had learnt to read by analytic or synthetic phonics methods as part of their early literacy programmes. The boys taught by the synthetic phonics method had better word reading than the girls in their classes, and their spelling and reading comprehension was as good. In contrast, with analytic phonics teaching, although the boys performed as well as the girls in word reading, they had inferior spelling and reading comprehension. Overall, the group taught by synthetic phonics had better word reading, spelling, and reading comprehension. There was no evidence that the synthetic phonics approach, which early on teaches children to blend letter sounds in order to read unfamiliar words, led to any impairment in the reading of irregular words.