Letters & Sounds Update
Following the DfE announcement about phonics on 1st April, we would like to clarify the situation with all phonics programmes and Letters and Sounds in particular.
The main messages from the DfE are:
- It is up to schools how they teach phonics as long as schools are using a systematic, synthetic approach
- Schools should be following one phonics programme with fidelity
- Hubs can only fund SSP programmes which are on the list of validated programmes
- The DfE will hold 3 validation panels in 2022 to refresh the list of validated SSP programmes. During this period it is possible that SSP programmes will be removed as well as added to the list: (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/choosing-a-phonics-teaching-programme/list-of-phonics-teaching-programmes). The new validated list means there will be high quality choice for schools looking at which SSP to use
Letters and Sounds was originally published as a framework by the DfE in 2007 and many schools have developed Letters and Sounds into a programme that they teach in their school.
- There will be no expectation that schools using Letters and Sounds well, and achieving excellent results, will need to change to a new programme
- Current Letters and Sounds training, delivered by DfE validated English Hubs, will continue until July 2023, so there will be continuity for schools who are already using the current programme
- There is no suggestion that Letters and Sounds will disappear – if anything it is expected there will be a choice of validated SSPs based on Letters and Sounds.
The main message from us is:
- There is no need to rush any decision – schools will be provided with support and guidance about the range of options as new programmes are accredited. As with any school improvement cycle, it would be hoped that schools would review their provision on a regular basis, and at least every 5 years or so, to ensure it is the best it can be
- The DfE have worked closely with OFSTED to ensure their inspectors are clear about these messages
As you may have seen on social media, there are many different opinions from a wide variety of different people about the continuation of Letters and Sounds and the teaching of phonics. Social media posts can be misinterpreted and cause anxiety as they are often posted by those who do not have the full picture or the correct message.
We hope this has provided you with the reassurance you may need, that the great practice already happening in your school can continue.
If you would like to speak to us, please do not hesitate to contact us.