We have been asked if we are seeking 'validation' from the DfE for our reading scheme. The answer is that we cannot apply for 'validation' because our reading scheme is not a synthetic phonic teaching programme.
To become a validated programme we would have to publish lesson plans and provide training and support for teachers. Although we have 20 years experience in producing and publishing materials to aid the teaching of phonics, we are not qualified in teacher training. We, therefore, are not able to provide any of these services.
Our books are simply resources. They are based on the phonic progression of phases of Letters and Sounds (2007). There have always been slight anomalies within this progression, e.g. we introduce the GPCs 'ay' as in 'play' and 'y' as in 'happy' early in the scheme. We introduce 'igh' as in 'night' late in the scheme. These anomalies have been catered for by the flexibility associated with the Letters and Sounds guidance. Thousands of schools have adapted the introduction of 'ay, y' so that they always have decodable books for children to read.
Since all the teaching programmes teach the GPCs in a different order, we cannot change our order of introduction of GPCs to suit them all. However, we have now published sixteen new books where the vowel graphemes, (GPCs) 'ee, ai, oo, oo, oa, ar, er, or, ow, ur, oi, igh, air, ear, ay, ea' are introduced individually as one new grapheme (GPC) per book so that teachers may use these at the appropriate place in their phonic teaching sequence.
There is no statutory obligation for a school to use a validated synthetic phonic teaching programme if its phonics provision is good. It is only in the circumstance of seeking support from one of the English Hubs that a school must use a validated programme. Even then, schools need plenty of decodable books for their pupils. Providing that all the GPCs in the vocabulary of a specific book have been taught, it will be decodable at that stage of the pupil's learning.
All our books have the vocabulary analysed phonically into phases 2, 3, 4 and the vowel graphemes and 'tricky' words listed separately. The information is published in the books themselves and in the teaching guides for each series. They are freely available here.
No. The order of introduction of letters and sounds, GPCs, is not the same in all the current phonic programmes.
However, they all introduce the 19 most commonly occurring letters of the alphabet first.
These are. 'a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u', although the introduction of the first few letters varies from programme to programme.
Some programmes introduce 's, a, t, p, i, n' first. Other programmes use 's, a, t, m, i, d' first.
The Jelly and Bean books use 'c, a, t, m, h, o, n' first so that the words 'cat, mat, hat, on, a' may be used.
All the programmes introduce the rest of the letters of the alphabet and the consonant digraphs, 'th, sh, ch, ng, ck' in the Reception Year (EYFS)
All programmes aim to teach one vowel grapheme for each of the vowel phonemes in the Reception Year (EYFS).
Letters and Sounds (2007) aims to teach the following vowel graphemes in Phase 3 for the Reception Year (EYFS):
'ai' as in 'sail'
'ee' as in 'sheep'
'igh' as in 'night'
'oa' as in 'toad'
'oo' as on 'moon'
'oo' as in 'look'
'ar' as in 'bark'
'er' as in' bigger'
'or' as in 'fork'
'ur' as in 'curl'
'oi' as in 'soil'
'ow' as in 'down'
'air' as in 'hair'
'ear' as in 'year'
'ure' as in 'cure'
Other programmes introduce different vowel GPCs first.
'ay' (day) instead of 'ai'(sail)
'ow' (blow) instead of 'oa' (toad)
'ie' (pie) instead of 'igh' (night)
'oy' (toy) instead of 'oi' (soil)
'ir' (bird) instead of 'ur' (curl)
'ou' (out) instead of 'ow' (down)
and some programmes leave the trigraph GPCs until Year 1.
The Early Learning Goal, ELG, which refers to this phonic knowledge for children in the Reception Year, EYFS, states that:
'Children at the expected level of development will:
- say a sound for each letter of the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs.'
Assuming that children are taught 'th, sh, ch, ng, ck' first, then they are expected to know at least 5 of the 15 vowel GPCs by the end of EYFS.
The National Curriculum (2014) gives a list of all the GPCs to be taught in Year 1 that may be used in the Phonic Screening Check..
The letter 'y' has at least four different roles in the English language, three of these as vowels and one as a consonant. Young children meet these different roles in the very common words 'mummy, my, yes, gym' before they first attend school.
Jelly and Bean books deal with the role used in 'mummy' first. Here the sound at the end of the word 'mummy' is /i/ (or sometimes /ee/, depending on accent and region). Now, 'i' is a shy little letter and does not like to be at the end of a word, so big tough 'y' helps him out and takes his place. This rule is known as the 'Shy i, Toughy y Rule' and it gives children a good way to remember that we use 'y' at the ends of words like 'happy, daddy, sorry' and 'mummy'. Children need to know this rule early so that they can write birthday cards to 'mummy' and 'daddy'.
The second role of 'y' is in words like 'my, by, cry, sky, fly', where it is pronounced as the 'long vowel'. It is first introduced in the word 'my' in book 10 of the A Series.
The third role of 'y', as a consonant, can be found at the beginning of words like, e.g. 'you, yes, yell, yellow'. It is first introduced in book 15 of the A Extra Series.
The fourth role of 'y' can be found in the middle of words like 'gym, crystal, gypsy'. In words like these 'y' is pronounced the same as the 'short i' /i/.
The letter 'y' is also found in the vowel graphemes (GPCs) 'ay, ey, oy' (day, they, donkey, toy).
In synthetic phonics 'C' refers to a consonant phoneme rather than a consonant letter. It may be represented by a letter, a consonant digraph, or another spelling of a consonant phoneme.
V refers to a vowel phoneme, rather than only the 5 vowel letters 'a, e, i, o, u'. It may be represented by a single letter 'a, e, i, o, u' or another vowel grapheme which contains 2, 3 or 4 letters, e.g. 'ai, ay, er, ow, ear, igh, ough' as well as the split digraphs 'a-e, i-e', etc.
This means that 'sheep' is classed as a CVC word in terms of phonemes but not a CVC word in terms of single letters. The first consonant phoneme /sh/ has the GPC 'sh', the vowel phoneme /ee/ has the GPC 'ee' and the last consonant phoneme /p/ has the GPC 'p'. In terms of phonemes 'sheep' is written as /sh/ /ee/ /p/.
'Sleep' is a CCVC word because its GPCs correspond to /s/ /l/ /ee/ /p/, where the letters 's' and 'l' represent two different phonemes blended together.
'Brick' is a CCVC word because its GPCS are /b/ /r/ /i/ /k/, where 'ck' is a GPC of the /k/ phoneme.
'Paint' is a CVCC words because its GPCs are /p/ /ai/ /n/ /t/.
'Town' is a CVC words because its GPCs correspond to /t/ /ow/ /n/.
'Tower' is a CVV word. Its GPCs correspond to /t/ /ow/ /er/.
'Night' is a CVC word. Its GPCs correspond to /n/ /igh/ /t/.
'Caught' is a CVC word. Its GPCs correspond to /k/ /or/ /t/, where 'c' is the GPC of the /k/ phoneme and 'augh' is the GPC of the /or/ phoneme.
'Earth' is a VC word. Its GPCs correspond to /ur/ /th/, where 'ear' is a GPC of the /ur/ phoneme.
'Though' is a CV word. Its GPCs correspond to /th/ and /oe/, where 'ough' is a GPC of the /oe/ phoneme.
'Know' is a CV word. Its GPCs correpond to /n/ /oe/, where 'kn' is the GPC of the /n/ phoneme and 'ow' is the GPC of the /oe/ phoneme.
'Lamb' is a CVC word. Its GPCs correspond to /l/ /a/ /m/, where 'mb' is seen as a GPC of the /m/ phoneme.
'Gave' is a CVC word. Its GPCs are /g/ /ai/ /v/, where 'a-e' is a GPC of the /ai/ phoneme.
'Have' is a CVC Word. Its GPCs correspond to /h/ /a/ /v/, where 've' is a GPC for the /v/ phoneme.
This means that when words are segmented into phonemes, C and V do not always refer to single letters and that 'sheep' is not a CCVVC word (as it would be if the C and V represented single letters). It is a CVC word.
In 2014 our books were included on the CD of phonic resources that accompanies 'Which Book and Why: Using Book Bands and Book Levels for Guided Reading in Key Stage 1' published by the Institute of Education Press.
Our books are in bands that take into account the following factors:
the nature of the vocabulary, (We try to ensure that we use words that children will know from their own knowledge of listening and speaking.)
a vocabulary that progresses gradually from simple CVC words to more complex multi-syllable words,
the length of sentences and the number of sentences on each page,
the number of words on a page,
the phonic content of the vocabulary. (GPCs in the words)
Teachers may see the vocabulary used in each story by clicking on the appropriate icon on the Teaching Guides page.