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. Consequently, we have decided not to change anything. However, we are currently working on two sets of eight books to introduce the GPCs ‘ee, ai, oo, oo, oa, ar, er, or, ow, ur, oi, igh, air, ear, ay, ea’ in such a way that teachers may use them as decodable readers at the point of introduction of these particular GPCs.
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.