Synthetic phonics is the accepted way of teaching young children to read in the UK. The phonics screening check, backed up by Ofsted, has ensured this. But not all teachers or researchers are convinced. Suzanne O’Connell reports


The ground swell towards an emphasis on the systematic teaching of phonics has been evident since at least 1998 and the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy.

Since then, the 2006 Rose Report – which considered the teaching of reading skills in primary schools – and the Primary National Strategy have seen phonics embedded and consolidated until the national curriculum in 2014 confirmed this as the way that schools in England must teach reading. And of course, children in year one in England now take a statutory phonics screening check which is used to hold schools to account (DfE, 2012).

However, the debate has reared its head again this year. First came the report Reading wars or reading conciliation? (Wyse & Bradbury, 2022a), which presented a challenge to schools using an exclusively phonics to teach pupils to read.

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