GOV.UK icon

Ofsted -  Letters and sounds

07 Jun 2021

The DfE has recently announced that Letters and Sounds will no longer be on or on their validated list of phonics programmes. The NAHT recently sent out a useful statement on the position some of which is quoted below.

To explain why this has happened and the implications for schools, they have produced this blog about the removal of letters and sounds.

The DfE state that they expect to see in schools is: “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.”

There has been some concern how Ofsted might interpret this move. It’s important to point out that the DfE blog explicitly states: Ofsted do not have a preferred approach, programme or approach’.

The validated list of phonics programmes is something slightly different. This mainly applies to schools receiving support from an English Hub. Those schools must follow a programme from the validated list (Letters and Sounds 2007 will remain on the validated list until 2022 to allow schools using it the time to transition). We also understand that some teaching schools are looking to try and get their programmes which are based on Letters and Sounds validated for 2022 onwards.

Of course, despite the freedom schools continue to have, there is understandable concern about the message that this sends out, and there is concern about how Ofsted might view schools who are using Letters and Sounds but haven’t linked it to decodable books i.e. those who haven’t ‘built on the foundations’ of Letters and Sounds. It’s important that schools are able to articulate the work they, the English Hub or the LA etc have done to add ‘flesh to the bones’ of the L&S resources

English hub free support with essential letters and sounds (ELS)

Our programme is rigorous, engaging and supports teachers to ensure that all children read well, quickly.

Find out more at our next Q&A sessions:


Tara Dodson, KST English Hub Lead

West London Free School Primary,Cambridge Grove, Hammersmith, London, W6 0LB

Telephone: 0208 741 9967 opt 5

Was this page useful? 
Last updated: 07 Jun 2021