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About the Phonics for Pupils with Special Educational Needs Programme

High Quality Accessible Phonics

Happy Kids with Books

Phonics for Pupils with SEN is a complete, systematic, linguistic phonics programme published in a series of seven books. It offers an innovative and refreshingly simple approach to the teaching of phonics which pupils with special educational needs can easily access to find success. The programme strips phonics down into manageable core elements and provides a wealth of resources to support teachers in teaching reading and spelling. The programme takes a pupil through incremental steps in learning about all the sounds in the English language at the same time as teaching and developing the key skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation and an implicit understanding of ‘how words work’.
Written in the light of academic, peer-reviewed research into how children learn to read and spell, the programme has been tested and refined over many years in mainstream and special schools. The multimodal programme begins with the introduction of sounds and letters and works towards pupils reading and spelling words of increasingly complexity, up to those with three and four syllables.
Designed specifically for pupils with special educational needs, it includes activities that support and develop phonemic skills in relation to isolation and identification of sounds, and visual perceptual skills in relation to letters and letter combinations (called sound spellings throughout the programme. The activities and worksheets are simple in format with a linear presentation designed to limit distraction, with the additional benefit of being age-neutral.

Phonics for SEN enables pupils with a range of special educational needs to find reading and spelling success and is suitable for those with specific learning difficulties, autism, moderate and severe learning difficulties, developmental language disorder, communication needs and complex needs, including pre- and nonverbal pupils and those with significant physical disability.

Core Books in the Programme

The seven book series gradually builds on pupils' understanding of sounds and the letters that represent them providing scaffolded support for children to learn about every sound in the English language.

Offering tried and tested material which can be photocopied for each of use, these are an invaluable resource to simplify phonics teaching for teachers and provide fun new ways for all pupils to access phonics.

Thorough guidance is provided for teachers and teaching assistants on the best way to deliver each activity, as well as a lesson planner template, handy word lists and posters for teachers to use to support learning.

Book 1: Building Basics

Introducing Sounds and Letters

Book 1 introduces the 'basic' sounds of the alphabetic code and explores their relationship with letters (called sound spellings in the programme). The book focuses on sounds and letters where there is a simple 1 to 1 correspondence between them for reading and spelling, and uses simple words that follow the pattern of vowel-consonant VC or consonant-vowel-consonant CVC.

Sounds are grouped into seven sets, Set 1: /s/ /a/ /t/ /p/ Set 2: /i/ /m/ /n/ /d/ Set 3: /g/ /o/ /c/ /k/ Set 4: /e/ /u/ /r/ Set 5: /h/ /b/ /f/ /l/ Set 6: /j/ /v/ /w/ /x/ Set 7: /y/ /z/. For each set there are more than 50 engaging activities, including Word Build, sound spelling bingo, reading race and spelling challenges.

Book 1 also introduces the key skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation in easily accessible steps.

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Book 2: Building Words

Working on Word Structure with Basic Sounds

Book 2 reinforces pupils’ knowledge of basic alphabetic code explored in Book 1 and uses these to build words with a more complex structure. It focuses on words of three, four and five sounds, with words are grouped according to their pattern of vowels and consonants as follows: VCC, CVCC, CCVC, CCVCC. Each chapter contains more than 50 engaging activities, including: odd one out, sound boxes, busy words, oops! correct the spelling and writing challenge. An additional chapter on capital letters allows pupils to practice identifying and working with these letters.

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Books 3-6: Sound by Sound

Exploring the complex sounds

Books 3-6 focus on exploring the advanced concepts of the alphabetic code. It focuses on more complex individual sounds and their relationship with letters and letter combinations (sound spellings).

Book 3 Sound by Sound Part 1 covers the sounds /sh/ /th/ /ng/ /ch/ /k/ qu (/k//w/) /f/ /l/ and /s/

Book 4 Sound by Sound Part 2 covers the sounds /oa/ /z/ /ee/ /ai/ /er/ /e/ /ou/

Book 5 Sound by Sound Part 3 covers /oy/ /oo/ /u/ /ie/ /or/ /air/ /ar/ 

Book 6 Sound by Sound Part 4 covers the sounds /s/ /l/ /b/ /d/ (advanced) /o/ /i/ /ue/

Each contains over 40 engaging activities, including: reading race, bits missing, spot the spelling, word detective and writing challenge. 

Book 3.png

Book 7: Multisyllable Magic

Revising the Main Sounds &
Working on 2, 3 and 4 Syllable Words

Book 7 focuses on revising the main sounds of the advanced code covered in previous books but working on them in words made up of 2, 3 and 4 syllables.

It also explores some morpholgy in words with key suffixes (-tion/ -sion/ -ture/ -sure/ -cious/ -cial).

Each chapter contains 10 engaging activities, including syllable jigsaw, sounds like a syllable, syllable trap and spelling challenge, plus handy highlighted word cards.

Book 7.png

Supplementary Teaching Resources

In addition to the core books, Phonics for SEN produces a range of materials and resources that complement delivery and implementation of the programme in school. These include teaching resources, assessment materials and informational/support resources. Most of these are available for the Phonics for SEN shop on this website but some resources are published by and available directly from Discover Inclusion.

Decodable Readers: 

  • Decodable Readers (main reading strand) matched to Books 1-6 published by Discover Inclusion Hatchling, Fledgling, Dove, Swan, Owl and Eagle Books

  • Sunflower Books for pupils with autism with a 'special interest' - free resource

  • Rainbow Readers matched to Sets 1-7 from Book 1 published by Discover Inclusion - based on a decodable reader, contains activities for all aspects of the Reading Rope (Scarborough 2010

  • Rainbow Thinkers matched to Sets 1-7 from Book 1 published by Discover Inclusion - enabling access for pre- and nonverbal learners.

Interactive Desktop Manipulatives: 

  • Letter Sliders 1 (for Book 1), 2 (for Book 2) and 3 (for Books 3-6) - slide letters to read and spell words and manipulate phonemes - available pre-made from Discover Inclusion.

  • Movable Alphabets for Word Build 

  • Word Catchers - 'cootie catchers' for reading and spelling words 

  • Sound Collector Cards - for retrieval practice

  • Fantasy Phonics - a paper based RPG for any stage in the programme - produced in collaboration with Phonics Books Ltd

Writing and Recording

  • Letter Formation Kit - learn and practice letter formation alongside phonics instruction

  • Developing Keyboard Skills and Phonics - an alternative writing strategy and preparation for keyboard work and touch typing


  • A Book of Spells - a series of 7 intensive practice booklets for Sets 1-7 from Book 1

  • Level Up Spelling - a series of 8 practice booklets for Books 1-7 and beyond

  • Word Wall - a classroom display of high frequency words coded and organised by sound- gradually build the wall as the pupils move through the programme 

  • Phrases and Sentences - dictation phrases and sentences

Wider Literacy

  • Rainbow Speakers - published by Discover Inclusion - working on spoken language structure and comprehension

  • Rainbow Writerspublished by Discover Inclusion - working on written sentence construction and connected text

  • Word Detective - intensive focus on orthographic mapping to work towards automaticity

  • Plurals - working on simple plurals

  • Word Web - intensive focus on vocabulary

Assessment Materials (paper-based)

  • Phonics for SEN Assessment Suite - blending, segmenting, code knowledge, reading and spelling high frequency words

  • Phonics for SEN Assessment Suite Adapted Materials for nonverbal pupils and pupils with significant physical disabilities 

Practice at Home

  • At Home mini workbooks for basic code Sets 1-7 in Book 1

  • Work at Home mini workbooks for advanced code in Books 3-6

Planning Proformas

  • Revised planning proformas for each book are now available. These incorporate the core activities and these supplemental activities.

  • Planning proforma for a semi-formal delivery of phonics is also available.

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