Direct Phonics and PAT are completely different types of literacy programmes.

Direct Phonics is designed for children in the earliest stages of reading who need to learn and reinforce basic letter sounds. The lessons work through building up simple c-v-c words to being able to read and spell polysyllabic words in the context of sentences and simple stories. This is essentially a fully planned programme with interactive lessons for small groups of children, although it can be done with an individual child if necessary. The fully scripted lessons include sound work, word building, matching sight words, writing and spelling. A daily lesson lasting approximately 15-20 minutes maximum can be given by a teacher or a teacher’s assistant.

PAT is designed to be done by pupils who already have a basic understanding of single sounds and simple letter strings such as ‘am’ ‘et’ ‘ing’ ‘all’ etc. After a brief introduction to the sounds/letter strings on the worksheet, children have to generate (build) words by putting the two parts together e.g. ‘s-ing’ - sing. There is no ‘memory work’ involved in learning the spellings because the words are generated by the children themselves from the components on the page. It is recommended that each page is completed three times to provide repetition and reinforcement. it is essential that the child always starts with a fresh worksheet so that they have to recall words created previously rather than simply adding more words to the same sheet. PAT is a very simple activity, easy to use and requires very little supervision once children have learned how to complete the worksheet. It has been found to help not just spelling and reading but also can improve handwriting. It is recommended that a PAT sheet session should take approximately 10-15 minutes (maximum). PAT sheets progress from the most basic c-v-c words to two and three syllable words.

To summarise:
Direct Phonics is a fully scripted interactive literacy programme for children who have struggled to make progress with alphabet learning, reading and spelling. Daily lessons of 20 minutes or a minimum of lessons 3 x weekly are recommended.

PAT is a short exercise using a worksheet which children can do independently for 10-15 minutes after being given initial instructions by a teacher / teaching assistant. Ideally done a minimum of 3 x weekly.