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Phonics Teaching

As a Trust, we follow a well-planned systematic phonics programme, alongside the writing and reading aspects of the National Curriculum. We have chosen to develop our own planning, following the progression within government accredited schemes, tailored to meet the needs of our children. The teaching of phonics is introduced when the children first start reception and they will bring home lots of important phonics documents to share with you. Every week, the children will bring home a sound book which shows you which sounds they have learnt in class. In Year 1 and Year 2, some children will also bring home the sounds they are practising in their home learning wallets.

The children are initially taught phonics in their own class during ‘whizzy word workshop’. As the children progress through the school, they may be placed in groups where the learning can be tailored to focus on their own individual next steps. We do daily ‘keep up’ sessions if a child is struggling to remember a particular letter sound.

We also use actions, stories and songs, to support the teaching of the letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes). The children are introduced to each letter/group of letters (grapheme/s) and sounds (phoneme), through a short story and song, and they learn an action to make when they are saying the sound (phoneme). 

Example for ‘a’ 

Grapheme: a

The story: A family are going on a picnic. They find a nice place to sit, lay out the blanket and begin eating. Suddenly, the girl feels a tickle on her arm and jumps up saying ‘a, a, a, a, a, a, a’   ant.

Action: Wiggle your fingers above your elbow as if ants are crawling on you, and say a,a,a,a,a!

Song:    a-a!  Ants on my arm. a-a!  Ants on my arm.  a-a!  Ants on my arm. They’re causing me alarm!

All classes follow the progression through the following phases:

Phase one – Environmental Sounds:

Phase one falls largely within the communication, language and literacy areas of learning in the EYFS curriculum. In particular, it will support linking sounds and letters in the order they occur in words. The children will be provided with a range of speaking and listening opportunities, discriminating between sounds, listening to environmental and instrumental sounds and exploring rhythm, rhyme and alliteration.

Within this phase, the children will begin to blend and segment orally, practising the skills needed to read and write. This aspects in this phase are covered in all of the phases. 

Phase two:

Phase two will involve teaching the children at least 19 letters (graphemes), and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters. The children learn the sound the letter makes and the name of each letter. By the end of this phase, they should be able to read small words and spell them, e.g. cat, sun. They will also be introduced to reading two-syllable words, simple sentences and some tricky words.


Set 1:






Set 2:





Set 3:





Set 4:





Set 5:



f, ff

l, ll



Phase three:

During phase three, the children will continue to learn another 25 graphemes, most of them comprising of two letters, so that the children can represent each of the 44 phonemes by a grapheme. The children continue to practise blending and segmenting words and sentences. They will also be introduced to a bank of high frequency words. These words will be sent home to learn.


Set 6:







Set 7:



z, zz




Set 8:







Set 9:







Set 10:







Set 11:







Set 12:








Phase four:

The purpose of this phase is to consolidate children’s knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants (e.g. stamp) and polysyllabic words (e.g. sandpit). The children are introduced to more tricky words.

Phase five and six:

During phase five and six, the children are provided with opportunities to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and writing, learning spelling rules and patterns. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and the graphemes they already know, where relevant. Some of the alternatives will have already been taught through the previously learnt tricky words. The children will learn to choose the correct grapheme when spelling unknown words, and they will apply their word knowledge in a variety of sentences.


Tricky words:

Using letter-sound correspondences is the most reliable strategy for spelling and reading words, however, there are times when a child will come upon ‘tricky words’ and cannot rely on this strategy. These words are tricky because they cannot be spelt or read phonetically using the letter-sound correspondences known by the child. When the children are taught ‘tricky’ words, they start from what is known and register the ‘tricky’ part in the word, using the phonics first approach. 

When reading a tricky word, the children are encouraged to identify graphemes and the sounds in the words, even the parts of the word that are tricky. They sound talk the word, put sound buttons under each phoneme and blend them together to read the word. 

They discuss the tricky part of the word where the letters do not correspond to the sounds the children knows. E.g. he - /h/e/   the 'e' makes an /ee/ sound that we know is normally a digraph such as /ee/, /ea/, /ey/ but it is the tricky part of this word as it is represented by a single phoneme /e/. We encourage the children to say the letter names (graphemes) as well as the sounds (phonemes). 

The children also learn some key words that are not tricky. These are shown below in black. The tricky words are also shown below and the ‘tricky’ part of the word are shown in red. As the children move through the phases, some of these words are no longer tricky as they learn the alternative graphemes and phonemes.






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