Letters and Sounds is the phonics programme we use at St. Peter's to support the systematic teaching of phonics. Children begin the Letters and Sounds programme at the start of Reception year and continue across Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2). Every child between Reception and Year 2 has a 20-30 minute phonics session every day. In Year 2, if children are secure in their phonic knowldege, they enter the spelling programme. In Key Stage 2, children have regualr lessons related to spelling, grammar and punctuation.


The Letters and Sounds programme is separated into  - your child's teacher will be able to tell you which Phase your child is currently working on.


Each phase is equally imprtant and builds on the previous one, so that children are acquairing new phonic knowledge and skills constantly, as well as consolidating prior learning.

The Phases are explained below.


We are often asked how each letter (or a pair of letters) is pronounced.

The link below will take you to the 'Letters and Sounds' YouTube clip- you to hear the pronunciation of each sound.


Phonics Terms

We hope the following glossary is useful to you. Come and talk to your child's teacher if you need support and look our for the phonics workshops for parents.


Blending is the skill of joining sounds together to read words. Children are taught to say the separate sounds in a word and to then blend them together to decode the word.


 A digraph is a sound that is represented by two letters e.g. the sound 'a' in rain is represented by the digraph 'ai'.


A grapheme is a visual representation of a sound e.g. a letter or a group of letters.

Some sounds are represented by a single letter whilst others are represented by more than one letter.


 A phoneme is a unit of sound e.g. the word 'cat' contains three phonemes; c - a - t.


 Segmenting is the opposite of blending. Children are taught to segment a word into its separate sounds in order to spell it.

 split digraph

 A split digraph is a digraph that is separated by other letters e.g. the sound 'a' in the word take is represented by the split digraph a-e.


Phase 1 

Phase 1 is the very start of your child's phonic journey. It is all about listening to sounds and learning to discriminate between different sounds. The Phase focuses on sounds in everyday life rather than sounds in words. Phase 1 lays the essential foundations for all the learning that follows. If your child cannot identify individual sounds in the everyday world and differentiate between them e.g. a car horn and a boiling kettle, then they will struggle to begin hearing the separate sounds that make up words.

Letters are not introduced until Phase 2. If your child will be starting school or has just started Reception then you will find these activities particularly useful. If your child is a little older but struggles to hear the 'separate sounds in words' then you may also find it useful to return to some of the activities in this phase.

Letters & Sounds Website

Some useful materials for Phase 1 are on the 'Letters and Sounds' website. To visit this site, click on the banner below:

Phase 2

In Phase 2 children are introduced to most of the alphabet letters (and the corresponding sounds) for the first time.

The are taught 19 letters, grouped into 5 sets.

 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


Children are encouraged to begin 'blending' sounds into words and 'segementing' words into sounds,  straight away. Therefore, having been taught only Set 1, children can make (and read) words such as at, sat, pat.

Nonsense words, such as 'tas' are also acceptable as they allow children to explore sounds freely. Mis-spelt words (which are phonetically correct) are also celebrated at first e.g. litul. In time, children will be shown the correct spelling. Remember, the initial focus is on reading; blending separate sounds into words.

As children learn all the Sets in Phase 2, they will be able to read an increasing number of words.

You will notice that 'double consonants' (ff / ss / ll) are taught early. This illustrates to children that sometimes more than one letter can represent a single sound. In the case of these letters it is the same sound as the single letter represents. In Phase 3 children are taught that this is not always the case.

The grapheme 'ck' is taught in Phase 2 as it features in many of the early words that children learn e.g. back, neck and sack.

Phase 3

In this Phase a further 25 letters and graphemes are taught. The final two sets of alphabet letters are taught first.

 Set 6

 j / v / w / x

 Set 7

 y / z, zz / qu

Once Sets 6 & 7 have been taught children learn about graphemes where more than one letter represents one sound e.g. the grapheme 'ai' represents one sound in the word 'rain'.

Click on the sounds below to see flash cards.



(as in chip)


(as in shop)


(as in thin)


(as in then)


(as in ring)


(as in rain)


(as in feet)


(as in night)


(as in book)


(as in boot)


(as in farm)


(as in for)


(as in hurt)


(as in cow)


(as in coin)


(as in dear)


(as in fair)


(as in sure)


(as in her)



*The grapheme 'th' represents more than one sound- a soft and hard sound. You may need to listen carefully to hear the difference.

**The grapheme 'oo' also represents more than one sound- the long and short sound.

Phase 4

In Phase 4 children are not taught any new phonemes or graphemes. Instead, they are taught to further manipulate the phonemes and graphemes they have already learnt. Many of the words children explored in Phase 2 and 3 were monosyllabic (words of one syllable). In Phase 4 children explore more polysyllabic words (words containing more than one syllable). Many of the words in Phase 2 and 3 required children to blend approximately three sounds together in order to read them. Phase 4 requires children to blend a number of sounds together in order to read.

At a glance...Phase 4.

In Phase 4, words are often referred to in relation to how many vowels and consonants they contain.

CVC Words

The word 'cod' is a CVC word (consonant / vowel / consonant). Other CVC words include: sad, net & him.

CCVC Words

The word 'crab' is a CCVC word (consonant / consonant / vowel / consonant). Other CCVC words include: slip, flat & stem.

CVCC Words

The word 'ramp' is a CVCC word (consonant / vowel / consonant / consonant). Other CVCC words include: help, send and vest.

Phase 5

In Phase 5 children are introduced to new graphemes for reading. Some of these graphemes represent phonemes (sounds) that they have already learnt a grapheme for. For example, in Phase 3 children were taught 'ai' as the grapheme for the phoneme /a/ (as in rain). In Phase 5, children are taught that the phoneme /a/ can also be represented by the graphemes 'ay' (as in play) or 'a-e' (as in make). This variation needs to be taught as it is common in our language.

Click on each grapheme below to download a set of A5 flashcards with words containing this grapheme. Practise reading these with your child.


(as in came)


(as in Paul)


(as in saw)


(as in day)


(as in these)


(as in sea)


(as in stew)


(as in chew)


(as in money)


(as in like)


(as in girl)


(as in bone)


(as in toe)


(as in out) 


(as in boy)


(as in Phil)


(as in June)


(as in huge)


(as in clue)


(as in due)


(as in when)



Phase 6

In Year 2 Children will be accessing phase 6 through a 'No nonsense spelling programme'. They will be:

  • sounding out words into phonemes and representing these with the correct graphemes.
  • • learning new ways of spelling phonemes for which one or more spellings are already known, and learning some words with each spelling, including a few common homophones.
  • • learning to spell common exception words.
  • • learning to spell more words with contracted forms.
  • • learning the possessive apostrophe (singular), for example, the girl’s book .
  • • distinguishing between homophones and near homophones.
  • adding suffixes to spell longer words, for example, ‘-ment’, ‘-ful’, ‘-less’, ‘-ly.
  • • writing from memory simple sentences dictated by the teacher that include words using the GPCs, common exception words and punctuation taught so far.

There are some excellent resources to support teaching and learning of Phase 6 at the sites listed below. Please follow the links to visit each site.



Children's phonic knowledge is assessed and monitored regularly, and we take care to ensure that the reading books we offer children are carefully chosen and in line with their phonic ability. Our books are decodable and provide opportunities for children to use their phonic knowdlege and apply new skills and phonemes taught. We have a variety of books- Oxford Reading Tree, Project X and Big Cat books.

Oxford Reading Tree Explore with Biff, Chip and Kipper: Oxford ...

St Peters C of E Primary School, Birley St, Newton-le-Willows, WA12 9UR