Choosing a phonics teaching programme

Updated 10 March 2023

Applies to England

The phonics teaching programme validation process

By ensuring high-quality phonics teaching and improving literacy levels, the government wants to:

  • give all children a solid base on which to build as they progress through school
  • help them develop the habit of reading both widely and often, for both pleasure and information

In April 2021, we published the revised core criteria for effective systematic synthetic phonics teaching programmes (SSP) and launched a new process to validate those programmes. The process applied to both previously assessed programmes and new applicants.

A number of publishers completed an initial self-assessment based on these criteria, which was then reviewed by independent evaluators. After 3 rounds of evaluation, 45 SSP programmes were validated.

We are not planning an imminent future validation round, but any update will be provided on this page. Although the process has now been completed, the information provided for 2021 to 2022, including the criteria used and the guidance supplied, remains available.

Validated SSP programmes

  • A Flying Start with Letters and Sounds
  • ACET Phonics
  • All Aboard Phonics
  • ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds
  • Anima Phonics: Letters and Sounds Updated
  • Bug Club Phonics
  • Dramatic Progress in Literacy Phonics (DPiL)
  • Essential Letters and Sounds
  • Extend Letters and Sounds
  • FFT Success for All Phonics
  • First Class Phonics
  • Fishing for Phonics
  • Floppy’s Phonics
  • GES Simply Letters & Sounds
  • Jolly Phonics
  • Junior Learning Letters & Sounds
  • LearnPhonics!
  • Lesley Clarke’s Letters and Sounds
  • Letterland
  • Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised
  • McKie Mastery Power Phonics
  • Monster Phonics
  • No Nonsense Phonics
  • Pearl Phonics
  • Phonics International
  • Phonics Shed
  • Phonics Steps
  • Pip and Pap
  • Read Write Inc.
  • Reading Planet Rocket Phonics
  • Ready Steady Phonics
  • RoboPhonics
  • Schofield & Sims My Letters & Sounds
  • Smart Kids Letters and Sounds - The Code
  • Snappy Sounds
  • Song of Sounds
  • Sound Discovery
  • Sound!Start Phonics for Letters and Sounds
  • Sounds-Write
  • Supersonic Phonic Friends
  • The Partnership Phonics Programme (based on Letters and Sounds)
  • Time for Phonics
  • Twinkl Phonics
  • Unlocking Letters and Sounds
  • Wand Phonics with Phonics International and/or No Nonsense Phonics

The contact details and web addresses for currently validated programmes are available and regularly updated.

Information for schools

There is no statutory requirement for schools to choose one of the SSP programmes on the validated list. Ofsted does not have a preferred programme or approach. What’s important is that schools take an approach that is rigorous, systematic and used with fidelity (any resources used should exactly match the Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence (GPC) progression of their chosen SSP approach), and that achieves strong results for all pupils, including the most disadvantaged. You can refer to this blog for more information.

However, validation status indicates that a programme has been self-assessed by its publisher and judged by a small panel with relevant expertise, and that both consider it to meet all the Department for Education (DfE) criteria for an effective SSP programme.

A complete SSP programme is one that provides:

  • all that’s essential to teach SSP to children in the reception and key stage 1 years of mainstream primary schools
  • sufficient support for children in reception and key stage 1 to become fluent readers
  • a structured route for most children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the year one phonics screening check
  • all national curriculum expectations for word reading through decoding by the end of key stage 1

For more guidance on choosing an SSP programme that’s best for your school, contact your local English hub. It can offer guidance on the details of each validated programme to help with your decision.

If you are or are about to become a partner school that’s supported by one of our English hubs, contact the hub to discuss which SSP programme to use in your school. The hubs programme will only support schools to implement a programme from the updated validated list.

Support for schools

As well as providing an updated list of validated programmes, we have launched a package of measures designed to support schools in providing excellent reading provision and developing pupils’ proficiency in, and love of, reading.

The package includes:

  • guidance for schools on early reading: the reading framework: teaching the foundations of literacy
  • £8.7 million additional funding in academic year 2022 to 2023 to support schools to purchase and embed complete SSP programmes from the validated list, including their associated training and resources
  • a new national professional qualification for leading literacy (NPQLL), launched in October 2022, to train teachers and leaders to become literacy experts who will drive up standards of literacy teaching in their schools and improve literacy outcomes for every child

Schools that are interested in purchasing a validated programme can contact their local English hub to see what support they’re eligible for.

Previous SSP programme validation routes

Between 2010 and 2014, we compiled a collection of phonics teaching programmes to help schools decide which was suitable for their school. We reviewed each programme against core criteria for effective SSP programmes.

Publishers could apply to have their programme featured through either:

  • a self-assessment process
  • submitting a tender to feature in the Importance of Phonics catalogue

Until this new validation process launched in April 2021, neither the list of self-assessed programmes nor the Importance of Phonics catalogue list of programmes had been updated or reviewed since 2014.