Letters and Sounds is the phonics scheme that we follow at Blackheath Primary School, which was published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It is a daily, systematic programme that progresses through six overlapping phases of learning which is taught from entry to our school  in small, flexible groups. Sessions are fast paced, interactive and challenging to ensure pupils progress quickly through the phases. Children are also  encouraged to apply their phonics skills across all curriculum areas and they all receive a home reading book that is entirely decodable using sounds they have been taught to further apply their phonic skills at home.

By the end of Year Two. children should have completed phase 6. The children’s progress is regularly reviewed by the teachers, and appropriate teaching of the phases is planned for. If any child is starting to fall behind, they are supported swiftly with additional, targeted phonic interventions such as ‘Sound Discovery’ ( external link) from skilled practitioners.

The information below sets out the content of the six phases based on the guidance for practitioners and teachers. For more detailed information, visit the Letters and Sounds website (external link).


External Links for Sound Discovery is

External link for Letters and Sounds


Phonics consists of:

  • identifying sounds in spoken words;
  • recognising the common spellings of each phoneme (sound);
  • blending phonemes into words for reading;
  • segmenting words into phonemes for spelling.

Below is information about the 6 phases, and the progression between them.


Phase 1

There are seven phonological stages to phase 1 and these are taught throughout the Nursery year. The skills taught also underpin the rest of the phases in the programme.

The seven stages are:

  • Environmental sounds
  • Instrumental sounds
  • Body percussion
  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice sounds
  • Oral blending and segmenting

Ways to help your child at home

Sound talk objects at home e.g c-u-p, b-a-th, s-o-ck

Sing Nursery Rhymes

Talk to your child about sounds they can hear on the way to school


Phase 2

During Phase 2, we introduce letter sounds so that children can begin to identify letters by their sound and name so they can develop the skills for segmenting (breaking down words for spelling) and blending (merging sounds together to read a word) for reading simple words. e.g s-a-t.

They also learn some tricky words that can’t be spelt phonetically  – the, to , I , go , no

Ways to help your child at home

Play I spy

Use magnetic letters on the fridge to help spell words

Group objects together that start with the same sound.

Holding a pencil – The ‘pincer’ movement needs to be practised. This is important as it enables children to hold a pencil properly as they write. Provide them with kitchen tongs and see if they can pick up small objects. Move on to challenging them to pick up smaller things, for example, little cubes, sugar lumps, dried peas, lentils, first with chopsticks, then with tweezers.


Phase 3

This is the phase where children become more fluent at reading and spelling using the sounds they have learnt in phase 2. They also learn additional sounds called digraphs (where two letters make one sound e.g th, sh, ch) and trigraphs (three letters that make one sound e.g ear, igh, ure)

This phase is also taught in Reception.

Ways to help your child at home

Continue to play with magnetic letters, using some of the two grapheme (letter) combinations:

r-ai-n = rain blending for reading rain = r-ai-n – segmenting for spelling b-oa-t = boat blending for reading boat = b-oa-t – segmenting for spelling

h-ur-t = hurt blending for reading hurt = h-ur-t – segmenting for spelling

Ask the teacher for a list of tricky words


Phase 4

The national expectation is that children will be working at phase 4 at the end of the Reception year going into Year 1. In phase 4, we teach the children to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants ( e.g cr, fr, nd, bl)

Children will be taught to blend and segment adjacent consonants in words and apply this skill when reading and spelling.

Children will move from CVC words (pot, sheep) to CVCC words (pots) and CCVC words (spot) and then CCVCC words (spots).

Ways to help your child at home

Look out for words in the environment, such as on food packaging, which your child will find easy to read, for example, lunch, fresh milk, drink, crisps,


Phase 5

This is taught throughout Year 1.

During phase 5 we will be teaching children to recognise and use alternative ways of pronouncing the graphemes (letters) and spelling the phonemes (sounds) already taught  e.g. the ‘c’ in coat and city.

They will also be taught to read an increasing number of high frequency words automatically. Knowledge and skills of phonics will still be the prime approach to reading and spelling.

At the end of Year One, the children undertake a statutory phonic assessment to assess their phonic knowledge. This data is shared with the local authority.

Ways to help your child at home

Read with your child – ask your child to attempt unknown words, using their phonic skills and knowledge. Make sure they blend all through the word.

Talk about the meaning of the book, too – take time to talk about what is happening in the book, or things that they found really interesting in an information book. Discuss the characters and important events. Ask them their views. Provide toys, puppets and dressing-up clothes that will help them to act out stories.

Explain the meaning of words (vocabulary) that your child can read but may not understand, for example, flapped, roared.

Write a shopping list together.


Phase 6

This phase is taught throughout Year 2. This phase teaches the children to read and spell an increasing number of complex words and how to change words according to different spelling rules and patterns.

It also enables them to independently break down longer words and teaches them strategies to become independent and confident spellers.

Ways to help your child at home

Visit the local library

Listen to them read their school home reader each night (it doesn’t have to be the whole book!)

Leave them a message on the fridge and encourage them to write back to you

Write an email together

Read to your child at bedtime and let them choose the story


Useful Websites;

games and ideas for helping your child to read

Information about the national bookstart scheme

Useful ideas, activities and features you can try at home

Jolly Phonics Website –

Pronouncing the Phonemes –