Someries Infant School

Phonics and reading

Home Quality of education Phonics and reading

The teaching of reading and phonics is strong throughout the school. Children make good progress due to the excellent teaching of phonics across the school starting in the early years.

Ofsted, 2017

What is phonics?

At Someries Infant School, early reading is taught using a systemicatic approach using phonics. phonics as the main approach to reading.

Letters and Sounds is a systematic approach for teaching children to read using phonics. It is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age seven.

Traditionally, children were taught letter names like ay, bee, sea from the start. However, letter names do not always represent their pronunciation – examples include double u or em – and this might confuse children when they try to pronounce words made up of these letters.

The phonic approach encourages us to directly link letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes), and to teach children pure sounds like ah, b, k when encountering the alphabet. So, children learn how to put sounds represented by letters or letter groups (like ch or igh) together to read words in a more straightforward way.

How to pronounce pure sounds

The relationship between the letter(s) and the sound is called a letter-sound correspondence, also known as a grapheme-phoneme correspondence (or GPC).

Phase 1 Letters and Sounds


Phase 1 supports children’s developing speaking and listening skills and linking of sounds and letters. Activities are divided into seven groups:

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

Children should be encouraged to enjoy books from as early an age as possible. However, the focus of this phase is on listening to and repeating sounds, rather than on directly reading words.

Phase 2 Letters and Sounds

First term of Reception

Phase 2 introduces simple letter-sound correspondences. As each set of letters is introduced, children are encouraged to use their new knowledge to sound out and blend words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s–a–t to make the word sat.

Set 1:

  • s, a, t, p
  • at, a, sat, pat, tap, sap, as

Set 2:

  • i – it, is, sit, pit, tip
  • n – an, in, nip, pan, nap
  • m – am, man, mat, map, Tim
  • d – dad, and, sad, dim, Sid

Set 3:

  • g – tag, gag, sag, gas, pig
  • o – got, on, not, top, dog
  • c – can, cot, cop, cap, cod
  • k – kid, kit, Kim, Ken

Set 4:

  • ck – kick, sack, dock, sick, pocket
  • e – get, pet, ten, net, pen
  • u – up, mum, run, mug, cup
  • r – rip, ram, rat, rocket, carrot

Set 5:

  • h – had, him, his, hot, hut
  • b – but, big, back, bed, bus
  • f, ff – of, if, off, fit, fog, puff
  • l, ll – let, leg, lot, bell, doll
  • ss – less, hiss, mass, mess, boss

Phase 2 tricky words:

  • the, to, no, go, I, into

How to blend sounds to read words

Phase 3 Letters and Sounds


In Phase 3, children build on the letter-sound correspondences learned in Phase 2. They learn consonant digraphs (sounds made up of two letters together such as ‘ch’ or ‘ll’) and long vowel sounds (such as ‘igh’ or ‘ai’).

Set 6:

  • j – jet, jam, jog, Jan
  • v – van, vet, velvet
  • w – wig, will, web
  • x – fox, box, six

Set 7:

  • y – yes, yet, yell
  • z – zip, zig-zag
  • zz – buzz, jazz
  • qu – quit, quick, liquid

Consonant digraphs:

  • ch – chip, chat, rich
  • sh – shop, shed, fish
  • th – thin, moth, that
  • ng – ring, thing, song

Vowel digraphs and trigraphs:

  • ai – rain, tail, aim
  • ee – bee, leek, see
  • igh – high, sigh, might
  • oa – boat, toad, foal
  • oo – boot, food, moon
  • oo – book, wood, foot
  • ar – park, art, car
  • or – for, torn, fork
  • ur – hurt, fur, surf
  • ow – cow, owl, town
  • oi – coin, boil, oil
  • ear – dear, shear, year
  • air – fair, pair, hair
  • ure – sure, pure, manure
  • er – dinner, summer, letter

Phase 3 tricky words:

  • he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her

Phase 4 Letters and Sounds


Children will consolidate their knowledge during this phase and they will learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants (for example, trap, strong, milk and crept).

Phase 4 tricky words:

  • said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what

Phase 5 Letters and Sounds

Year one

Children will learn some new graphemes for reading. They will also be taught alternative pronunciations for known graphemes. For example, they have already learned ow as in cow and will now learn ow as in blow.

In addition, they will learn alternative spellings for known phonemes. For example, the sound /igh/ has been learned as the grapheme igh as in ‘night’, but can also be spelled y, ie, and i-e.

New graphemes for reading:

  • ay – day, play, crayon
  • ou – cloud, sound, about
  • ie – pie, tie, cried
  • ea – sea, meat, read
  • oy – toy, enjoy, boy
  • ir – bird, shirt, first
  • ue – blue, true, glue
  • aw – paw, claw, yawn
  • wh – wheel, whisper, when
  • ph – photo, dolphin, alphabet
  • ew – new, crew, flew
  • oe – toe, foe, tomatoes
  • au – Paul, launch, haul
  • a-e – make, game, snake
  • e-e – these, Eve, extreme
  • i-e – like, time, slide
  • o-e – home, bone, pole
  • u-e – rule, June, flute

Phase 5 tricky words:

  • oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could

Phase 6 Letters and sounds

Year two

In Phase 6 children will read with increasing fluency. They will have learned most of the common letter-sound correspondences and can read familiar words automatically without needing to sound out and blend.

Children will work on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters, and so on.

Statutory phonics screening check

At the end of year one, pupils undergo a statutory phonics screening check.

This is a statutory assessment and all children in year one must take the check and any year two children who did not meet the expected standard in year one will take the check again.

The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether or not individual children have learned phonics decoding to the appropriate standard.

The links below will enable you to download copies of previous phonics screening checks.

Our phonics workshop materials provide further details about the check.

Phonics policy

Phonics workshop resources

We hold regular phonics workshops in school in which the following resources are provided. If you are unable to attend one of these workshops, please use the links below to read our family support materials.

Useful resources

CBeebies Alphablocks

Mr Thorne does phonics


Reading Schemes

At Someries Infant School, all of our reading books are colour banded. Children are given a colour band to choose their home reading book from which will help to ensure that the books they select are at the appropriate reading level for them whilst also ensuring they are appropriately challenged. 



very colour band includes books from a range of reading schemes so that children will experience a range of text types. All books within each book band can be decoded using phonics skills and knowledge.

We use a published reading scheme called Project X during our guided reading lessons.