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St Barnabas

& St Paul's Church of England Primary School


Phonics is a method used to teach children to read the sounds in words. It helps children to learn to read quickly and skilfully and is an essential part of a child’s early education. At St Barnabas and St Paul’s, we use a systematic phonics programme called Letters and Sounds. This is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning.


“Learning to read is like learning to run. The more you practise, the faster you become.” Sophie Carter



Reading is the key that unlocks the whole curriculum so the ability to efficiently decode is essential. The phonics curriculum at St Barnabas and St Paul’s Primary School aims for children to read and write quickly and effectively. We use the Letters and Sounds programme to teach our children the core skills of segmenting and blending and to start them on their ‘reading journey’. By the time pupils reach Year 2, they will have the ability to efficiently decode, read fluently and write with confidence.



In Phonics, we implement an inclusive curriculum that meets the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum.  Phonics is taught for 20 minutes daily from Reception to Year 2, however it may continue to be taught across school to ensure that all children receive a good understanding of phonics to support their reading. 

Children will learn different phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters), to enable them to segment and blend for reading.  The understanding that the letter(s) on the page represent the sounds in spoken words should underpin pupils’ reading and spelling of all words. This includes common words containing unusual grapheme, phonemes correspondences (GPCs). The term ‘common exception words’ is used throughout the programmes of study for such words.

At St Barnabas and St Paul’s, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ teaching approach, which has six phases.  During all these phases children will be introduced to some ‘tricky’ words and common exception words which must be learnt as sight vocabulary.


Phase 1


In Phase One, children explore and experiment with sounds and words. They are taught to distinguish between different sounds in the environment and phonemes. The children will also learn to orally blend and segment the sounds in words. We hope that the children will have developed some of these skills in nursery and have a strong foundation for Communication, Language and Literacy by the time they start school. In Reception, Phase One activities will continue to be included within the classroom as they are integral in developing language-rich provision that enhances vocabulary and listening and attention.


Phase 2

Children entering Phase Two will have experienced a wealth of listening activities including songs, stories and rhymes. The purpose of this phase is to teach the 19 most common single letter sounds, and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters. We follow the letter progression suggested by Letters and Sounds and provide a selection of suitable words made up of the letters as they are learned.



By the end of Phase Two many children should be able to read some simple words and to spell them either using magnetic letters or by writing the letters down.


Phase 3

Children entering Phase Three will know around 19 letters and be able to blend phonemes to read and write simple words. The purpose of Phase Three is to introduce children to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes. There are 25 of these, mainly made up of two letters such as /ch/, /ar/, /ow/ and /ee/. They learn the names of the letters, as well as the sounds they make. Children also continue to practise blending and segmentation in this phase and will apply their knowledge to reading and spelling simple words and captions.




Phase 4


Children entering Phase Four should be confident with each phoneme and be able to blend and segment CVC words. They will have some experience in reading simple two-syllable words and captions. The purpose of Phase Four is to consolidate children’s knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words. They will practise reading and spelling CVCC words such as ‘belt’ and ‘milk’. They will also practise reading and writing sentences. Children should now be blending confidently to read new words. They should be starting to be able to read words fluently, rather than having to sound them out. 

They will also learn to read some high frequency ‘tricky’ words:



We aim for the children to complete this phase by the end of Reception.


Phase 5


Children entering Phase Five are able to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants e.g., milk and some polysyllabic words e.g., melting. Phase Five generally runs throughout the whole of Year One.


The purpose of this phase is to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes (different ways of spelling each sound) and alternative pronunciations for these: for example: learning that the grapheme ‘ow’ makes a different sound in ‘snow’ and ‘cow’.

They learn about split digraphs (sometimes known as the ‘magic e’) such as the a-e in ‘name’. They’ll also start to choose the right graphemes when spelling, and will learn one new phoneme: /zh/, as in ‘treasure’. Children should be developing reading fluency and become quicker at blending and start to be doing it silently.


They will also learn to read some high frequency ‘tricky’ words:



Phase 6


Phase Six takes place throughout Year 2, with the aim of children becoming fluent reading and accurate spellers. Children entering Phase 6 should know most of the graphemes. 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.

Children should now be spelling most words accurately, although this usually lags behind reading.


The children also learn, among other things:

  • Prefixes and suffixes, e.g., ‘in- ‘and ‘-ed’
  • The past tense
  • Memory strategies for high frequency or topic words
  • Proof-reading
  • How to use a dictionary
  • Where to put the apostrophe in words like ‘I’m’
  • Spelling rules