Phonics rules "hurting publishers"

Companies that publish phonics material have warned overseas sales are being lost as a result of a government listing of ‘approved’ phonics programmes.

Last month the Department for Education published a new, slimmed-down list of approved phonics teaching programmes. The list includes materials from the larger publishing houses, including OUP, Pearson and Hachette, but excludes a number of smaller publishers.

Ray Barker, director of BESA, the trade association for the educational supply industry, said: “The list of ‘approved’ materials is now very narrow and really only includes resources from the bigger publishers who have been able to present an entire programme that meet the department’s new requirements.

“Any schemes or resources that do not fulfill each and every one of their requirements are not being listed, but not all publishers’ materials have been designed as a complete programme and these will naturally fail to make it.”

While UK-based schools are likely to continue to buy the resources that they know work, Barker said overseas orders are threatened. He said: “Procurement tends to be more centralised overseas and they come to the UK because we produce good resources, but if the government is telling us ‘these are the best resources’ then for those not listed, it becomes a competitive issue.” BESA intends to raise the issue with the government in the autumn.