Phonics Shed programme is been based around 2007 Letters and Sounds, with support, guidance, resources and training required to meet the Department for Education Validation of systematic synthetic phonics programmes criteria released on 1st April 2021.

Phonics Shed is a multisensory SSP programme which enables children to become fluent readers and writers by providing strategies to decode words by teaching links between letters and the sounds they can make (grapheme-phoneme correspondence or GPC). All GPCs used in the phonics screening assessment, and more, are covered by the scheme in time for the check at the end of Year One. The scheme has also been designed to meet all word reading expectations for Key Stage One (KS1) and to support many other expectations from across the KS1 English National Curriculum (NC). It also aligns with many of the relevant Early Learning Goals (ELGs) the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for September 2021. More information on curriculum links can be found HERE .

Every GPC has its own character with an accompanying story and action. Many of the characters also have their own songs based on common nursery rhymes and additional comparison stories, which compare known alternative graphemes and/or phonemes that are similar to the character’s GPC. These characters are also included in many of our Phonics Shed decodable reading scheme books (see Further Details section below for more information).

Phonics Shed uses the blending and segmenting approach to teach children to decode words. Children are taught to blend sounds together to make words by using the ‘Sound it, Squash it, Say it’ technique. Then to segment words into sounds they are taught to ‘Say it, Stretch it, Sound it’. Visual cues to support these methods are included as part of the packs (see below for more details).

Some words that cannot yet be decoded are linked with some GPCs, usually based on the grapheme being taught. These are called Common Exception Words (CEWs) and are covered earlier than they become decodable to give children access to a wider range of texts sooner. They are taught in a specific sequence which is based on the GPCs being taught and the frequency of the CEW. Most CEWs become decodable later in the programme. CEWs are clearly indicated, and methods are given to aid with teaching them.

The scheme is split into four chapters, each of which has various subsections, and follows a similar progression to ‘Letters and Sounds (2007)’; including Phase 1 (Chapter 1) but not Phase 4, as these skills have been integrated into the other chapters. Each subsection, known as a Set or Element, has a minimum of two weeks of detailed planning and resources attached to it, as well as suggestions of how to extend the skills beyond phonics sessions. A full overview of the scheme’s progression can be found HERE and example planning and resources can be seen HERE .

How does Phonics Shed meet the criteria?

  • 1. Constitute a complete SSP programme providing fidelity to its teaching framework for the duration of the programme. We have a consistent scheme that goes from sound recognition right up to spelling and beyond!
  • 2. Present systematic, synthetic phonic work as the prime approach to decoding print. Phonics Shed is a complete systematic synthetic phonics scheme.
  • 3. Enable children to start learning phonic knowledge and skills early in reception, and provide a structured route for most children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the year one (Y1) Phonics Screening Check and all national curriculum expectations for word reading through decoding by the end of key stage 1. Actually, we start before and with Spelling Shed run right through to Year 6.
  • 4. Be designed for daily teaching sessions and teach the main grapheme-phoneme correspondences of English (the alphabetic principle) in a clearly defined, incremental sequence. We organise graphemes into sets with daily lessons fully planned with comprehensive and adaptable resources.
  • 5. Begin by introducing a defined group of grapheme-phoneme correspondences that enable children to read and spell many words early on. Explicit word lists are provided with many common words included as early as possible.
  • 6. Progress from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills, cumulatively covering all the major grapheme-phoneme correspondences in English. We broadly follow Letters and Sounds but not exactly as we recognised there were gaps (as noted by the DfE).
  • 7. Teach children to read printed words by identifying and blending (synthesising) individual phonemes, from left to right all through the word. For example, we have a resource called Say it, Stretch it, Sound it and the reverse Sound it, Squash it, Say it.
  • 8. Teach children to apply the skill of segmenting spoken words into their constituent phonemes for spelling and that this is the reverse of blending phonemes to read words. For example, via Spelling Shed, we have a resource called: Say it, Stretch it, Sound it and the reverse Sound it, Squash it, Say it.
  • 9. Provide opportunity for children to practise and apply known phoneme-grapheme correspondences for spelling through dictation of sounds, words and sentences. Via Spelling Shed and additional games and multi-sensory tasks suggested in our teaching and learning sequence.
  • 10. Ensure that children are taught to decode and spell common exception words (sometimes called ‘tricky’ words), appropriate to their level of progress in the programme. We include a full progression of common exception words and other high frequency words, in our teaching sequences, as well as our offline and online resources and games.
  • 11. Provide resources that support the teaching of lower-case and capital letters correctly, with clear start and finish points. The programme should move children on by teaching them to write words made up of learned GPCs, followed by simple sentences composed from such words as well as any common exception words (‘tricky words’) learned. Lower-case and capital letter formation rhymes are included on flashcards and this teaching carries through to simple sentences which is included in our planning.
  • 12. Be built around direct teaching sessions, with extensive teacher-child interaction and involve a multi-sensory approach. The programme should include guidance on how direct teaching sessions can be adapted for online delivery (live or recorded). We are intentionally multi-sensory and narrative-driven with a story book, a character, a song and an action for each GPC. All resources are digitally available to make remote (e.g. Zoom or Teams) teaching simple.
  • 13. Provide resources to enable teachers to deliver the programme effectively including sufficient decodable reading material to ensure that, as children move through the early stages of acquiring phonic knowledge and skills, they can practise by reading texts closely matched to their level of phonic attainment, that do not require them to use alternative strategies to read unknown words. We have created a decodable reading book set of ~120 books to run alongside our scheme, as well as online games and multisensory tasks to run in parallel with children’s phonics attainment over time.
  • 14. Include guidance and resources to ensure children practise and apply the core phonics they have been taught. Full digital phonics game set embedded in Spelling Shed as a companion resource.
  • 15. Enable children’s progress to be assessed and highlight the ways in which the programme meets the needs of those who are at risk of falling behind, including the lowest attaining 20% of children. Our digital games assess and digital teacher flashcard assessment tool feeds an intuitive data grid to provide all of this, with the option to set online tasks or follow up with one-to-one or small group interventions.
  • 16. Provide full guidance for teachers to support the effective delivery of the programme and appropriate, programme-specific training either directly, through appointed agents or remotely; with assurances that there is sufficient capacity to do so and that those delivering this training will have appropriately high levels of expertise and relevant experience.
  • Full guidance included in the pack. Training videos are available digitally and Zoom/in-person training will be available too.