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As you know, the ability to read and write well is a vital skill for all children, paving the way for an enjoyable and successful school experience.


Children learn and practise many of the skills that they need for reading and writing from a very early age. They do this through a wide range of activities and experiences, at home, in settings and in school. They explore and learn through singing and saying rhymes, making and listening to music, talking with others, sharing books with adults and other children, dressing up, experimenting with writing and using puppets and toys to retell and make up stories.


Children’s spoken language supports reading and writing

In order to make a good start in reading and writing, children need to have an adult listen to them and talk to them. Speaking and listening are the foundations for reading and writing. Even everyday activities such as preparing meals, tidying up, putting shopping away and getting ready to go out offer you the chance to talk to your child, explaining what you are doing. Through these activities, children hear the way language is put together into sentences for a purpose.


Books are a rich source of new words for your child; words you would not use in everyday conversations appear in books. Children need to have a wide vocabulary to understand the meaning of books, so read aloud and share books as often as you can. They will enjoy it and it will be useful to them when they come across these words in their own reading later on.


At St Filumena’s Catholic Primary School, when children enter the Reception class, they take part in high-quality phonics sessions every day. These are fun sessions involving lots of speaking, listening and games, where the emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play.


Our chosen method for teaching phonics is the government’s Letters and Sounds document, which can be accessed by clicking the link below.

Phonics at St Filumena's Catholic Primary School

At St. Filumena's, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ approach, aided and supported by resources from ‘Jolly Phonics’ and ‘Phonics Play’. We pride ourselves through a creative approach to phonics using games, music, technology and outdoor learning as the children learn to recognise, blend and segment new sounds. Children will take part in a 15-30 minute daily phonics session where they will split into small groups to work at a level suited to their own understanding with targeted support. Phonics is consistently implemented through your child’s working day as they develop their knowledge by applying learnt sounds through their reading and writing in all areas of the curriculum. We believe in parent partnership and annually do a phonics meeting/workshop to help parents with their own understanding of how phonics works.


What is phonics?


Phonics is a programme to teach children to read and write through learning sounds. Children learn how to identify sounds in words through different phases and generally runs from nursery to Year 2. It is split into 6 different phases and is taught daily through a set procedure of revisit/review-teach-practice-apply method. Each phase consists of learning new groups of sounds including tricky words

that cannot be segmented and alternate pronunciations of sounds/words.



The sounds that are found within a word


The way the sound is written out.


2 letters that make 1 sound.


3 letters that make 1 sound.

Split digraph

2 letters that make 1 sound with a consonant in between.


Putting sounds together to read a word


Breaking up a word into sounds.

How does phonics progress?


Phase 1

Children begin their phonics journey in Nursery/beginning of Reception through tuning their ear to identifying different sounds. Children listen to music, sing songs, rhymes and play games to develop describing skills when identifying sounds. 

Phase 2

Children begin to learn individual sounds and letters of the alphabet.

  • 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 3

  • 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
  • Letter names for the alphabet; A,B,C,D,E etc.

Phase 4

No new sounds are learnt in this phase. Children are however practicing blending and segmenting words, using syllables to decode words, reading and writing captions and sentences and consolidating their previously learnt sounds.

Phase 5

Children begin to learn alternate pronunciations for sounds and are introduced to word families and patters alongside soft and hard letter sounds (the ‘c’ in cat and face, for example)

  • Digraphs- ay, ou, ie, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey
  • Split digraphs- a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e

Phase 6

Consolidation of all the above sounds including pronunciations etc. Children are learning to apply their skills and knowledge to become fluent readers. They begin to progress onto spelling patterns, tenses and grammar which will follow through into every year group.


What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource 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.

There are six overlapping phases. You can view  summary below:


Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

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.


Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks

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.


Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks

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.


Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

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.


Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

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.


National Curriculum Spelling (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

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


Phonics Screening Check.

In Year 1, children undertake a phonics screening check which is a tool to assess children’s knowledge and understanding in their reading skills. There are 40 words to read; 20 real words and 20 pseudo (nonsense) words. Children sit 1:1 with an adult and are not timed as they read these words. Children are expected to hit a pass mark and those who do not reach that mark are able to retake the test in Year 2.


More information can be found on these useful links;


How to help your child at home.

Children learn in a variety of ways but the key element to anything they do is fun. Playing games with children both in and out of the house will allow children to develop their recognition in their own environments. Write words and sounds in flour, sand, rice. When a child is playing a home, always leave a pen and paper in reach for them to write something to go alongside their creative play. There are lots of fantastic websites and apps to support your child when learning phonics as well as videos and programme which will help apply and consolidate what they have learnt at school.


  • YouTube- Jolly phonics (also an app)

  • YouTube- Alphablocks (also an app)

  • Phonics Play website and app 

  • Teach your monster to read website and app

  • Phonics Bloom website


    The most important way of helping your child at home is to read. Reading is a fundamental skill in your child’s education, and reading just 20 minutes a day can develop and make a huge impact on their education.