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Phonics Scheme

Phonics Scheme Information

In Phonics we follow a program called Letters and Sounds which was published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven. The letters and sounds programme focuses on securing word recognition skills as these are essential for children to decode (read) and encode (spell) words accurately with ease and so concentrate on comprehending and composing text.

Letters and Sounds is broken down into 6 phases. It is important when learning phonics that the children are familiar with the correct terminology and from the very beginning they are introduced to the terms phoneme and grapheme. Sounds (phonemes) are represented by letters (graphemes)


Phase 1 and 2

We teach the children the smallest unit of sound – called a ‘phoneme’.

Below is the order in which the ‘phonemes’ are taught and practised. Correct pronunciation is vital!

Set 1 letters = s, a, t, p

Set 2 letters = i, n, m, d

Set 3 letters = g, o, c, k

Set 4 letters = ck, e, u, r


Phase 3

By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2. The purpose of this phase is to introduce 25 new graphemes , most comprising 2 letters such as “oa”.

Set 6: j, v, w, x

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

During Phase 3, children will also learn the letter names although they will continue to use the sounds when decoding words.

They will continue to practise CVC blending (Consonant, vowel, consonant) and segmentation and will apply this knowledge to reading and spelling simple two-syllable words and captions.


Tricky words

During Phase 3, the following tricky words (which cannot yet be decoded) are introduced:

He, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her

Phonics is the step up to word recognition. Automatic reading of all words, both tricky & decodable, is the ultimate goal.


Phase Four

When children start Phase Four of the Letters and Sounds phonics programme, they will know a grapheme for each of the 42 phonemes. They will be able to blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and segment in order to spell them.

Children will also have begun reading straightforward two-syllable words and simple captions, as well as reading and spelling some tricky words.

In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children's knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.


Tricky words

During Phase 4, the following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced: Said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what,


Phase 5

Children entering Phase Five will already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and flask. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words e.g. letterbox. In Phase Five, children will learn to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make. Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break. With practice, speed at recognising and blending graphemes will improve. Word and spelling knowledge will be worked on extensively


Tricky words

During Phase 5, the following tricky words (which cannot yet be decoded) are introduced:

Oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could


Phase 6

At the start of Phase Six of Letters and Sounds, children will have already learnt the most frequently occurring grapheme– phoneme correspondences in the English language. They will be able to read many familiar words automatically. When they come across unfamiliar words they will in many cases be able to decode them quickly and quietly using their well-developed sounding and blending skills. With more complex unfamiliar words they will often be able to decode them by sounding them out.

Eg words with –s & -es suffixes,

Adding suffixes to words ending in ing, ed, s, er, est, y, en

Adding suffixes to words ending in y, eg marrying, mar-ried, funnier, funniest.

Adding suffixes to words ending in a single consonant eg stop, becomes stopped, stopping, mad will become mad-der, maddest etc


At this stage children should be able to spell words phonemically although not always correctly. In Phase Six the main aim is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.