new on 7 March 2023
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Phonics doesn’t work for all pupils learning to read. Learn who might need extra support and what alternative approaches are available. Read a case study from a special school that supports their pupils to learn to read in their own ways.

Please note that any mention of commercial products in this article is not an endorsement by The Key.

Phonics is not the only approach to learning to read

The National Curriculum stipulates the teaching of phonics, and this approach works well for a lot of pupils.

However, phonics being the best approach is contested and, some argue, isn't underpinned by evidence.

Critically, some pupils struggle to learn to read using phonics – in this case, you should use alternative or additional approaches.

Need Reason Pupils who have English as an additional language (EAL) These pupils may not be familiar with the English alphabet Pupils who are mute or selectively mute These pupils often find it hard to communicate their understanding of phonics Pupils with special educational needs (SEN): autism Hyperlexia is common in pupils with autism. This means they can decode and read lots of words, but don't know the meaning. In this