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DfE validated programmes & Phonics for teens with SEN & Dyslexia

Quick answers to two frequently asked questions about phonics for secondary schools.
Question 1: Are secondary and special schools required to choose from the DfE's list of validated phonics programmes?
No!
Those programmes are validated for primary only and may be inappropriate for both the age and stage of students at secondary school. That Reading Thing meets the DfE's criteria for phonics interventions for older students as laid out in the 2021 Framework for Reading. Read more in this blog post.
We have been assured that Ofsted inspectors are very happy to see That Reading Thing in secondary schools, both mainstream and special settings. Read more about Ofsted's expectations for literacy interventions at secondary school on the official Ofsted blog. Note that they also refer to the 2021 Framework for Reading mentioned above.

More information for schools from the Department for Education

(Bold headings and fonts added by Tricia. Text in italics is from the DfE website)

There is no statutory requirement for any school to choose from the validated programmes list.
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.

That Reading Thing fulfils all of the criteria below:
What’s important is that schools take an approach that is rigorous, systematic, used with fidelity (any resources used should exactly match the Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence (GPC) progression of their chosen SSP approach), and achieves strong results for all pupils, including the most disadvantaged.

Validated programmes meet the criteria which are entirely based on outcomes in key stage 1
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 of the Department for Education (DfE) criteria for an effective systematic synthetic phonics programme.
A complete systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme is one that provides:
• all that is essential to teach SSP to children in 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

Question 2: Is That Reading Thing (& linguistic phonics in general) suitable for teens and adults with special educational needs and dyslexia?
Yes!

That Reading Thing was initially created for teens in a school for boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties (which today would be an SEMH school) and the local youth offending team. Then it was rolled out to youth organisations to deliver to young people in projects around the country. Most of the young people involved were still in school but their struggles with reading put them at risk of dropping out of education. The success of those projects is documented in our external evaluation by Professor Emeritus Greg Brooks. Download it here. The biggest gains in that study were amongst young people with starting reading ages of 8-9.

Teachers began asking about That Reading Thing because they had seen 'written off' (their words, not ours) young people coming back to class and engaging in education because of their improved reading and TRT began to flourish across the education system. SEN teachers and dyslexia tutors discovered it for their older students and made great things happen. A SENco from a large secondary school emailed to say:

(That Reading Thing) has proved most beneficial for students aged over 11 with reading ages below 6 years. The improvement in reading, writing and spelling ability of these students as a direct result of the programme has been incredible.
What about SEN students taught by TRT tutors without SEN qualifications? Here are the results of a 4-week intensive programme carried out by a support assistant (who is also a very experienced That Reading Thing tutor). Click on image for some of the results. Download pdf with full results and details of the students. One of them was deemed 'too dyslexic' to benefit from an intervention but you can read about what happened in only two short TRT sessions.
Get in touch for a chat about how we can help transform literacy for your older struggling readers.

That Reading Thing costs £160 per staff member which includes online training, lesson resources and follow-up support.

We advise putting aside 8 hours to complete the training which is accessed at your convenience. Ask for details.

Prices quoted on this site are exclusive of VAT and shipping.

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