How to make sure you’ve got the right phonics programme for your school

You’ve probably already heard that the DfE has announced it won’t be publishing a full Letters and Sounds programme, or an updated progression. You can read more about this news and what it means for schools in England in our earlier blog post

While there’s no need to make any drastic changes – if you have high-quality phonics provision based on the Letters and Sounds progression, you can continue to use it – it might have got you thinking about whether your current phonics provision is working for your school. We are committed to ensuring every child learns to read, so we know it’s important that your children will not only be passing the phonics screening check, but will become lifelong readers.

Here are some questions that you could use to help you assess which phonics programme is best for you. Some of them might also come in handy as a way to audit your current phonics provision.

  • Does the programme meet the curriculum requirements and latest Ofsted guidance for teaching early reading?
  • Is it a complete programme that allows you to follow it with fidelity throughout its duration?
  • Does this programme fit into your current classroom organisation or does it present an opportunity for a bigger change?
  • What level of investment can your school afford? Is it a one-off cost?
  • What level of training and support does this programme offer, and how closely matched is this to the needs of your staff? Is the training support ongoing?
  • How confident are your staff in diving into assessment data for phonics – is this an area you would appreciate support in developing?
  • Has the programme been tried and tested in schools?
  • Are the resources of high quality and will they engage children?
  • How does the programme link what children are being taught with how children are practising through their reading in school or at home?
  • Does the programme support the needs of different learners, including the lowest-attaining 20% of children? 
  • Is the programme validated? Even though the DfE is reopening their validation process, all existing validated programmes, like Read Write Inc. Phonics and Floppy’s Phonics, will remain validated until they are submitted for re-validation.

If you need any further support, we’re here to help. So whether you’re already using Oxford programmes and resources for your phonics teaching, are looking for new ways to support phonics learning, or want our team to support a phonics review virtually in your school, please get in touch.

You can get a useful overview of all our phonics support here.