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Phonics is taught throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage One.

The children work through the phases through practical, fun and engaging activities. These skills are then applied in all other areas of their learning in order for the children to become expert readers.

Individual reading books are carefully matched to practice the phase that the children are working on.

Please see the table below which explains what is covered in each phase.


Phase Description




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.


*Be able to listen, compare and make sounds.

*Be able to sing, clap and join in with  rhymes.

*Be able to match sounds to objects.

*Be able to play eye-spy with initial sounds.

Be able to distinguish between sounds.

Begin to orally blend and segment.



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.


*Be able to read the letters and sounds —s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss.

*Be able to read and spell  some CV  and CVC words.



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.

*Be  able to read and spell VC and CVC words.

*Be able to read the letters and sounds—j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu.

*Be able to read the graphemes—ch (chip), sh (shop), th (thin/then), ng (ring), ai (rain), ee (feet), igh (night), oa (boat), oo (boot/look), ar (farm), or (for), ur (hurt), ow (cow), oi (coin), ear (dear), air (fair), ure (sure), er (corner).



No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

*Be able to use knowledge from phase 2 and 3 to read and spell CVC, CVCC, CCVC words.

*Be able to automatically read words without sounding out.



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.

*Be able to read the graphemes—ay (day), ou (out), ie (tie), ea (eat), oy (boy), ir (girl), ue (blue), aw (saw), wh (when), ph (photo), ew (new), oe (toe), au (Paul), a-e (make), e-e (these), i-e (like), o-e (home), u-e (rule)

*Be able to recognise alternative pronunciations  for graphemes—i (fin, find), o (hot, cold), c (cat, cent), g (got, giant), ow (cow, blow), ie (tie, field), ea (eat, bread), er (farmer, her), a (hat, what), y (yes, by, very), ch (chin, school, chef), ou (out, shoulder, could, you)

*Be able to recognise alternative spellings for different phonemes.



Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

*Be a fluent reader.

*Be able to spell words of different tenses, words with suffixes and prefixes and longer words.



Term Meaning


A consonant-vowel-consonant word, such as cat, pin or top. You may also come across the abbreviation CCVC for consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant words such as clap and from. Also CVCC for words such as mask and belt and CCVCC which is two consonants, vowel and two final consonants such as crisp


Phonemes are the smallest unit of speech-sounds which make up a word. If you change a phoneme in a word, you would change its meaning. For example, there are three phonemes in the word sit /s/-/i/-/t/. If you change the phoneme /s/ for /f/, you have a new word, fit. If you change the phoneme /t/ in fit for a /sh/, you have a new word, fish - /f/-/i/-/sh/.


Graphemes are the written representation of sounds.


Two or three letters representing one phoneme.

Split digraph

Two letters representing one phoneme but split within a word

Adjacent consonants

Two or more consonants next to each other in a word.


The ability to hear individual phonemes in a word.


The ability to merge individual phonemes together to pronounce a word.