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Phonics Guide

What is Phonics?


Phonics is a method of learning to read. Phonics works by breaking each word up into it’s individual sounds before blending those sounds back together to make the word.  Children learn to 'decode' words by breaking it down into sounds rather than having to memorise 1,000's of words individually. Research has shown that phonics, when taught correctly, can be the most effective way of teaching children to learn to read. Sounds are taught from easiest to hardest: starting with single letter sounds and then moving on to two letters making a sound and then three and so on. Learning phonics and learning to read is one of the most important stepping stones in early education as it gives your child the skills they need to move forward in every subject, you simply cannot progress without it.


The alphabet is a great place to start when learning phonics as if you learn the simple 26 letter sounds of the alphabet you will be well on your way to learning all 44 sounds. Our alphabet phonics song is a good way to learn all of the alphabet letter sounds.



Phonics Alphabet | ABC Phonics Song | The Phonics Song |

Download the app! Learn the Letter Sounds Before you Learn the Letter Names! Online Phonics Games -

What is Letters and Sounds?


Letters and Sounds is a systematic approach for teaching children to read using phonics. It is used in many schools in England, but is not a mandatory part of the National Curriculum. It is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age 7. We use Letters and Sounds as a structure for teaching at White Court.


What are Phonic Phases?

Below is a breakdown of the Letters and Sounds Teaching and Learning 

Phase 1 Letters and Sounds

Early Years/Foundation Stage
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

Foundation Stage
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 sat to make the word sat.

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 Letters and Sounds

Foundation Stage/ Year 1
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 , v, w, x

Set 7:
y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs:
ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel digraphs and trigraphs:
ai, ee, igh, oa, oo , oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi ear, air, ure, er


Phase 4 Letters and Sounds

Discreet Teaching through FS and Year 1
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 5 Letters and Sounds

Year 1
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, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e,