Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Primary School & Nursery

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Phonics in the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1


The school’s phonics programme is based on ‘Letters and Sounds’ (resources from the Department for Education and Skills). These resources provide a structured scheme to support teachers and teaching assistants in delivering high quality synthetic phonics across the Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage One and early Key Stage Two.


Letters and Sounds Phases 1-6:


Letters and Sounds is built around 6 phases, enabling children to progress at an individual level. Letters and Sounds should be taught daily for approximately fifteen minute pure phonics teaching time. Children entering school should begin working within Phase One.

Teachers and Teaching assistants should carry out regular assessments to ensure children are making progress and set challenging targets throughout the programme. Phases 1-6 are progressive and children should move through the phases at an appropriate pace.

  •  Children at nursery age will work within Phase One. Phase One falls largely within the Communication & Language area of learning in the Early Years Foundation stage. In particular it will support linking sounds and letters in the order in which they occur in words, and naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet.
  • The activities in Phase One are mainly adult-led with the intention of teaching young children important basic elements of the Letters and Sounds programme such as oral segmenting and blending familiar words


  • Phase One activities are arranged under the following seven aspects:



Aspect 1: General sound discrimination- environmental sounds

Aspect 2: General sound discrimination- Instrumental sounds

Aspect 3: General sound discrimination- body percussion

Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme

Aspect 5: Alliteration

Aspect 6: Voice sounds

Aspect 7: Oral blending and segmenting


  •  Each aspect is divided into three strands


-Tuning into sounds (auditory discrimination)

-Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing)

-Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension)


  •  Activities within the seven aspects are designed to help children:

Listen attentively

Enlarge their vocabulary

Speak confidently to adults and other children

Discriminate phonemes

Reproduce audibly the phonemes they hear, in order, all through the word.

Use sound-talk to segment words into phonemes.


Children entering school will have experienced a wealth of listening activities, including songs, stories and rhymes. They will be able to distinguish between speech sounds and many will be able to blend and segment words orally.


Every child entering Reception will progress to Phase 2.


The purpose of Phase Two is to:


  •  Teach at least 19 letters, and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters.
  • Enable children to read VC (Vowel/ Consonant) words and CVC (Consonant/ Vowel/ Consonant) words.
  •  Read high frequency ‘tricky’ words
  • Recognise and say the sounds of the following letters


Set 1: s a t p

Set 2: i n m d

Set 3: g o c k

Set 4: ck e u r

Set 5: h b f ff l ll ss


Phase Three


Children entering Phase Three will know around 19 letters and be able to blend phonemes to read VC and segment VC words to spell.


The purpose of Phase Three:


  • To teach another 25 graphemes, most comprising two letters (oa) so children can represent each of about 42 phonemes by a grapheme.
  • Children will continue to practise CVC blending and segmenting.
  • Children will learn letter names throughout this phase.
  • Children will learn the following sounds

Set 6: j v w x

Set 7: y z zz qu

  • Children will learn 25 graphemes






Phase Four


Children entering Phase Four will be able to represent each of 42 phonemes by a grapheme and be able to blend and read CVC words and segment for spelling.


The purpose of Phase Four:


  •  To consolidate children’s knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words.
  •  To teach CVCC and CCVC words.


Phase Five


Children entering Phase Five are able to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants and some polysyllabic words.


The purpose of Phase Five:


  • Children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling.


Phase Six


Children should know most of the common grapheme- phoneme correspondences. They should be able to read hundreds of words, doing this in three ways:


  • Reading the words automatically if they are very familiar;
  •  Decoding them quickly and silently because their sounding and blending routine is now well established.
  • Decoding them aloud.
  •  Introduce past tense
  • Adding suffixes
  • Supporting the application of spelling in children’s own writing.


The School’s phonics programme aims to:


  • Show pupils that the words we say can be broken up into identifiable individual sounds
  • Demonstrate that writing is a code, and that we can write down the sounds that we hear.


In the EYFS and Key Stage One:


  • Listening is very important
  • A range of learning styles are acknowledged through multi-sensory strategies:


Hearing the sound

Saying the sound

Making the sound through actions

Writing letters



Throughout Phases 1-3 the main focus of each lesson is to help pupils identify and count the number of sounds in each word and then write down these sounds in order. Phases 3-6 build on children’s knowledge and focus on graphemes.

Lessons also focus on letter formation and handwriting.


Skill Development




Pupils are given lots of practice in identifying first, last and middle sounds from a sequence of sounds before phonemes are introduced. For example, various combinations of claps, whistles, hoots. When sequencing skills have been acquired, pupils move onto identifying phonemes, reproducing them and encoding them as their commonest graphemes.




Pupils are given extensive practice in breaking words up into their phonemes. For example ‘cat’ is segmented c / a / t




Blending is running phonemes back together to form words.

Segmenting and blending are both essential skills in reading and writing text.


Glossary of terms


Decoding: Interpreting the symbols on paper which represent sounds- Reading!


Encoding: Using symbols as marks on paper to communicate what we want to say- Writing!


Phonemes: Basic sounds from which speech is composed For example, ‘sprout’ can be separated into five Phonemes- s/p/r/ou/t

There are about 44 phonemes in common use in speaking English


Graphemes: These are the written codes for the basic sounds. Graphemes can be one or more letters but they represent one phoneme, ‘ie’ can be represented by

Y (my)

i-e (time)

ie (pie)

igh (sigh)


Blending: Saying sounds smoothly together to hear a word- Reading.


Segmenting: Saying a word and hearing individual sounds- Spelling.


Tricky words: sets of high frequency words to build a child’s vocabulary
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