The teaching of phonics aims to build children's speaking and listening skills as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.

Teachers plan and teach daily activities based on the objectives from Letters and Sounds and Support for Spelling, published by the Department for Education and Skills. Planning builds on prior knowledge and experience to ensure Progression. Teachers track and evaluate pupils’ progress and use this information to inform future learning. In Year 1, children start at phase two/three and move through a progression of lessons until they reach phase six. From phase six, children then work through Support for Spelling programme and the Nation Curriculum objectives. Teachers match activities to the needs of all children in the class.

The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance for practitioners and teachers.


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One(Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two(Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three(Reception) up to 12 weeks The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four(Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segent longer words with adjacet consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase Five(Throughout Year 1) Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six(Throughout Year 2 and beyond) Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Phonic terms

  • Phonemes: The smallest units of sound that are found within a word 
  • Grapheme: The spelling of the sound e.g. Th
  • Diagraph: Two letters that make one sound when read
  • Trigraphs: Three letters that make one sound
  • CVC: Stands for consonant, vowel, consonant.
  • Segmenting is breaking up a word into its sounds.
  • Blending : Putting the sounds together to read a word
  • Tricky words: Words that cannot easily be decoded

How to help at home

It is important for a child to learn lower case or small letters rather than capital letters at first.

Most early books and games use lower case letters and your child will learn these first at school. Obviously you should use a capital letter when required, such as at the beginning of the child's name, eg. Paul.

When you talk about letters to your child, remember to use the letter sounds: a
buh cuh duh... rather than the alphabet names of the letters: ay bee see dee ee.

The reason for this is that sounding out words is practically impossible if you use the alphabet names. For example, cat would sound like: see ay tee which does not sound like ‘cat’.

When saying the sounds of b, d, g, j and w you will notice the 'uh' sound which follows each, for example buh, duh... You cannot say the sound without it, however, try to emphasise the main letter sound.

When say the sound l, you will notice that this is pronounced 'ul' and not luh.

Videos demonstrating the correct pronunciation of the sounds

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