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Phonics - Letters and Sounds


At Northdown, we follow the Letters and Sounds teaching programme. In reception through to year 2 the children engage in a 20-30 minute phonic lesson every day led by a class teacher or teaching assistant.  Children are grouped according to their phonic knowledge and are formerly assessed at the end of each term.  Teaching groups are organised based on the assessment information and adults rotate to ensure children have the opportunity to be taught phonics by different practitioners.

To underpin the teaching of phonics at home parents in year R are invited to attend a phonic workshop and an early reading workshop when their children start school.  Parents are given phonics packs to use with their children with a clear outline on how to use them.  There are instructions within every pack for parents who do not attend the session.  In addition the phonics pack children in reception are given a phonetically appropriate reading book and a phonic challenge which is specifically tailored to the sounds taught that week. In year 1 and 2 children continue to access phonetically decodable books alongside that of a top down model. They too are given a phonic specific  challenge to sheet to take home.


The aim of Phonics is to equip children with the skills needed for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills as well as building children's speaking and listening skills.

The programme consists of six phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance for Practitioners and Teachers.  Please see the attached documentation which exemplifies a teaching sequence for pupils at Northdown.


(Table taken from 'www.letters-and-sounds-com')


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One 

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 


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


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


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  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.
Phase Six 

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



Example of PPT used to teach phonics in class

Useful Websites:

Useful Vocabulary


Phoneme -  The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme -  A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.

GPC -  This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

Digraph -  A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Trigraph -  A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Blending-  This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word.

Segmenting -  This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes (sound talk/sounding out) that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order.