Phonics at St Marys RC Primary School

At St. Marys, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ approach, aided and supported by ‘Jolly Phonics’ and ‘Phonics Play’. We pride ourselves through a creative approach to phonics using games, music, technology and outdoor learning as the children learn to recognise, blend and segment new sounds. Children will take part in a 15-30 minute daily phonics session where they will split into small groups to work at a level suited to their own understanding with targeted support. Phonics is consistently implemented through your child’s working day as they develop their knowledge by applying learnt sounds through their reading and writing in all areas of the curriculum. We believe in parent partnership and annually do a phonics meeting/workshop to help parents with their own understanding of how phonics works.

What is phonics?


Phonics is a programme to teach children to read and write through learning sounds. Children learn how to identify sounds in words through different phases and generally runs from nursery to Year 2. It is split into 6 different phases and is taught daily through a set procedure of revisit/review-teach-practice-apply method. Each phase consists of learning new groups of sounds including tricky words that cannot be segmented and alternate pronunciations of sounds/words.



The sounds that are found within a word


The way the sound is written out.


2 letters that make 1 sound.


3 letters that make 1 sound.

Split digraph

2 letters that make 1 sound with a consonant in between.


Putting sounds together to read a word


Breaking up a word into sounds.

How does phonics progress?


Phase 1

Children begin their phonics journey in Nursery/beginning of Reception through tuning their ear to identifying different sounds. Children listen to music, sing songs, rhymes and play games to develop describing skills when identifying sounds. 

Phase 2

Children begin to learn individual sounds and letters of the alphabet.

  • 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

  • Set 6- j, v, w, x
  • Set 7- y, z, zz, qu
  • Consonant digraphs- ch, sh, th, ng
  • Vowel digraphs- ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
  • Letter names for the alphabet; A,B,C,D,E etc.

Phase 4

No new sounds are learnt in this phase. Children are however practicing blending and segmenting words, using syllables to decode words, reading and writing captions and sentences and consolidating their previously learnt sounds.

Phase 5

Children begin to learn alternate pronunciations for sounds and are introduced to word families and patters alongside soft and hard letter sounds (the ‘c’ in cat and face, for example)

  • Digraphs- ay, ou, ie, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey
  • Split digraphs- a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e

Phase 6

Consolidation of all the above sounds including pronunciations etc. Children are learning to apply their skills and knowledge to become fluent readers. They begin to progress onto spelling patterns, tenses and grammar which will follow through into every year group.

Phonics Screening Check.

In Year 1, children undertake a phonics screening check which is a tool to assess children’s knowledge and understanding in their reading skills. There are 40 words to read; 20 real words and 20 pseudo (nonsense) words. Children sit 1:1 with an adult and are not timed as they read these words. Children are expected to hit a pass mark and those who do not reach that mark are able to retake the test in Year 2.

How to help your child at home.

Children learn in a variety of ways but the key element to anything they do is fun. Playing games with children both in and out of the house will allow children to develop their recognition in their own environments. Write words and sounds in flour, sand, rice. When a child is playing a home, always leave a pen and paper in reach for them to write something to go alongside their creative play. There are lots of fantastic websites and apps to support your child when learning phonics as well as videos and programme which will help apply and consolidate what they have learnt at school.

  • YouTube- Jolly phonics (also an app)

  • YouTube- Alphablocks (also an app)

  • Phonics Play website and app

  • Teach your monster to read website and app

  • Phonics Bloom website


The most important way of helping your child at home is to read. Reading is a fundamental skill in your child’s education, and reading just 20 minutes a day can develop and make a huge impact on their education.

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