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This section provides answers to questions being asked about systematic synthetic phonics. Information ranging from match-funding, to products and resources and the kind of training available is addressed here.
Information on the criteria for phonics training and phonics catch-up programmes, along with the response to the consultation on Year 1 phonics check screening, are both available in the associated resources on this page.
The Department published an evidence note outlining this – available at Annex C of the report on the consultation.
Yes. A school can spend as much or as little as it likes, but match-funding will only be available up to £3000 (for a £6000 total spend) and until October 2013.
No. The £3000 available per school covers the period to the end of the financial year in October 2013 and once used will not be supplemented.
Yes. For example, a school could use £2000 of their available allocation this financial year and £1000 next financial year.
No. Schools place their order for products through any member of the Pro5 Group. Pro5 will then invoice the Department for half of the cost. Training is booked directly with the training provider, using the course code in the catalogue. Schools pay the full cost and claim half of the cost from Pro5. Full instructions on ordering and on how to access the match-funding are in the catalogue. The Department will provide up to £3000 of match-funding per school.
Products in the catalogue are suitable for use with pupils in Key Stage 1 and some can be used with younger or older pupils if schools think this is appropriate.
Copies of the catalogue were sent to all state-funded schools with Key Stage 1 pupils who are eligible for the match-funding, and will are being issued to eligible schools with Key Stage 2 pupils.
A revised hard copy of the catalogue was issued to schools in September 2012 and this will be issued to junior/middle schools. There will be no further re-prints of the catalogue and no further procurement exercises.
No. Only products and training purchased through the catalogue and the Pro5 Group are eligible for match-funding. Products and training purchased through other routes are not eligible, even if the materials appear in the catalogue.
The list of products on the website is not an approved list. It is a result of a long-standing process whereby publishers submitted resources to be independently assessed against the Department’s criteria for assuring high quality phonic work. This was to help schools and early years settings to choose an effective phonics teaching programme.
The catalogue is a new initiative to support schools' purchasing of approved products and training with match-funding. Products may differ across the two lists for a variety of reasons. For instance, publishers may have decided not to apply for a particular list, and therefore would not be included.
The final decision on which resources to use is up to teachers and schools. The self-assessed list is a guide to help make these decisions. The catalogue is a mechanism through which eligible schools can buy match-funded products and training to support their teaching of phonics.
Educational publishers and training providers were invited through open tender to submit products and training for inclusion. Bids were then assessed against the Department’s criteria for assuring high quality phonic work.
There were also specific criteria for training and catch-up programmes, available in the associated resources section on this page.
The core criteria are simply a way of defining the key characteristics of a high quality systematic synthetic phonics programme. They are important because they can help schools assess which of the diverse range of phonic programmes and resources best suit their needs.
We have revised the core criteria to build on the ‘phonics first’ approach that began with the Rose Review. The changes clarify that phonics programmes should be synthetic programmes, emphasising that texts given to children should be decodable.
Yes. But you will only be able to claim match-funding for products and training that are included in the match-funded catalogue The Importance of Phonics. If you decide to use a programme not in the catalogue, the most important thing is that it meets the core criteria. If it doesn't it is unlikely to provide a sound basis for teaching high quality, systematic synthetic phonics. We expect schools and settings to give serious consideration to the core criteria because this is the best way of making sure that their chosen programme offers appropriate support.
As with any group of children, it is 'stage' not 'age' that matters. You will want to tailor your teaching to fill in any gaps in phonic knowledge that you have identified. A high quality phonics programme will typically provide guidance on assessment, which should help you here.
We can't advise on how to deliver commercial programmes, but here are some suggestions that may help.
Make sure you have access to the full programme rather than parts of it. Most programmes contain guidance notes for teachers and some contain scripted lessons. If children in your special needs group have Individual Education Plans (IEPs), it will help to speak to the SENCO. They may be able to advise on how to tailor the introduction of the sounds specifically to each child.
It's also worth checking which children are currently having speech and language therapy.
Contact the relevant publisher who will be best placed to give you advice on their programme. Some publishers also provide training to accompany their programmes.
Information about phonics training and phonics catch-up programmes.
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This report was published in March 2011.