There are many phonics programmes to choose from. Here is what these programmes need to offer to deliver explicit, systematic, structured, and successful reading instruction for all children.
1. Clear scope and sequence: the Alphabetic Code is complex, and it is imperative that it is introduced in a systematic way – starting with the simple letter/sound correspondences and progression to the more complex ones.
2. Clear and accessible lesson plans to ensure quality phonics instruction.
3. Incremental and cumulative progression: small steps – so all students can succeed, and revision embedded in the teaching.
4. The teaching of phonemic awareness skills that underpin reading. Children need to be able to blend sounds together to read and segment sounds in words to spell.
5. Decodable books that align with the programme. This is the practice that children need to apply their phonics in text.
6. Training: it’s also important to consider how staff will be supported in implementing a phonics programme. Will school staff be trained in the principles of teaching phonics and feel confident to lead lessons and ensure all children make progress?
7. Assessment: teachers need to be able to assess progress and identify gaps in learning. This is especially important for struggling readers who may need extra support to keep up.
Many programmes have these attributes and teach children to read and spell successfully. The most important element is to follow a high-quality programme with fidelity so that a coherent and systematic method of teaching is in place.