What is Phonics?

Phonics is an essential strategy that children are taught as part of the process of learning to read.

Children are taught to:

  • Say the sounds that individual letters make.
  • Say the sounds that different combinations of letters make e.g. ‘sh’ and ‘th’ (digraph), ‘igh’ and ‘air’ (trigraph).

Blend these sounds together, from left to right, to read a word.
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ unfamiliar words as they read.

What happens in Phonics lessons?
From Reception to Year 2, children receive daily phonics lessons in line with the ‘Letters and Sounds’ guidance from the Department for Education.

We follow the comprehensive planning from Phonics Play to support the children's daily learning. Take a look in the File Section of this page to view the planning. 

There are 6 phases that increase in difficulty. Content includes learning individual letter sounds, spelling words with adjacent consonants and learning ‘tricky words’ that can not be decoded phonetically. 

The phonics session itself is divided into 4 parts (Revisit, Teach, Practise and Apply). It is a quick paced lesson that often includes the use of games, flashcards, pictures, writing sounds in the air/on whiteboards and saying them aloud.


Phonics Overview

Phase One

Supports the importance of speaking and listening and develops children’s discrimination of sounds, including letter sounds.


The children learn to pronounce the sounds themselves in response to letters, before blending them. This leads to them being able to read simple words and captions.

Letters: s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

Tricky Words: the, to, I, no, go

Phase Three

Completes the teaching of the alphabet and moves on to sounds represented by more than one letter. The children will learn letter names and how to read and spell some tricky words.

Letters: j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

Tricky Words: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, they, her, all, are

Phase Four

The children learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants.

Tricky Words: said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, out, what

Phase Five

The children broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and spelling. They will begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.

Sounds: ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey, a_e, i_e, u_e, o_e

Tricky Words: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked

Phase Six

This focuses more sharply on word-specific spellings. It encourages children to become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.


What can I do at home to support my child?

  • It is really important for your child to learn the correct pronunciation of each sound. We will teach this on a daily basis but reinforcing this at home is great too! Follow the link below to hear the correct pronunciation of all the Phase 2 and 3 sounds.
  • When reading with your child at home, try to break up (segment) unfamiliar words into a series of sounds e.g. b-r-u-sh, sh-a-m-p-oo. Combine (blend) the sounds together to try to read the word.
  • Play games like ‘I spy’ that encourage your child to look for objects that begin with a certain sound e.g. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with the sound ‘ch’.
  • Learn some ‘tricky’ words with your child (words that can not be decoded phonetically). Lists of these are handed out at the Phonics Workshop and are relevant to the phase your child is working on. If you do not have a copy please ask your child’s class teacher.
  • There are a wealth of interactive games and activities available online. We have found the following sites particularly useful:


Files to Download

Contact the School

Bollington St John's CE Primary School

Grimshaw Lane
Macclesfield Cheshire
SK10 5LY

Tel: 01625 572 025