Clowne Infant & Nursery School

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         Phonics at Clowne Infant and Nursery School 

At Clowne Infant and Nursery School we place high importance on the teaching and learning of synthetic phonics as a key method for teaching children to work out (decode) unknown words for reading and segment words to spell them when writing.  Children are encouraged to apply phonic skills learned when reading and writing throughout the whole curriculum.  We teach phonics in a progressive sequence which is included in both our reading and writing progression of skills.  Our teaching of phonics is included within our English Curriculum Intent.  (See documents below)

What is phonics?  


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write by helping them hear, name and use the different sounds within spoken English and involves matching these to individual letters or a group of letters.  We call one sound a phoneme and the written version of that sound is called a grapheme.  A phoneme can be made by just one letter, two letters (a digraph), three letters (a trigraph).  

Written language is like a code so knowing the sound of letter/s and putting these together in order working from left to right through a word, means that children can say and blend these phonemes together to problem solve and decode the words.  Children need to be able to blend phonemes together to read unknown or unfamiliar words which they come across in books and to help with spelling unfamiliar words when writing. 

There are 44 phonemes (sounds) in English which children must learn.  

Click on the ABC link below to watch an "Oxford Owl" you tube video explaining more about what phonics is.  


It is important that all 44 phonic phonemes (sounds) used in the English language are pronounced correctly.  Click on the picture to watch and listen to an Oxford Owl video of how to pronounce these sounds. 


Why do we teach phonics?


In the Department for Education document "National Curriculum for English" it recommends phonics is used in the early teaching of reading.  Phonics is recommended as a first strategy to teach children who are learning to read and write.  Phonics is used alongside other teaching strategies to help children gain essential reading skills and also foster a love of reading and books.  Reading is the key to further learning across the whole curriculum and is a lifelong skill and so it is important that we teach phonics in a clear and systematic progression. 

How do we teach phonics?


We teach phonics along a progression of skills which are included in both our reading and writing progression of skills due to phonics being a major part of both aspects of English.  (See the reading and writing curriculum progression of skills maps at the bottom of this phonics page.)


We follow a whole school systematic program of phonics teaching which we plan using a phonics planning scheme called LCP, which we use alongside the governments guidance document "Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of high quality phonics".  Click on the alphabet weblink if you are interested in reading more information contained within the governments Letters and Sounds guidance document. 





Children throughout school are taught to listen carefully and identify the phonemes in words.  These phonemes are taught systematically in a set order along a progression of phonic phases which runs from phase 1 to phase 6.  

                                                 Phonics phases progression and overview 


Phase one

Phase One is mainly adult-led with the intention of teaching young children important basic elements of the Letters and Sounds programme such as oral segmenting and blending of familiar words.   


Activities are arranged under 7 aspects:


Aspect 1 - General sound discrimination – environmental sounds

Aspect 2 - General sound discrimination – instrumental sounds

Aspect 3 - General sound discrimination – body percussion

Aspect 4 - Rhythm and rhyme

Aspect 5 - Alliteration

Aspect 6 - Voice sounds

Aspect 7 – Oral blending and segmenting


Within each aspect there are three main aspects: tuning into sounds to discriminate what is heard; listening to and remembering sounds developing auditory memory and sequencing; and talking about sounds to develop vocabulary and language comprehension.


The boundaries between each strand are flexible and teachers plan to integrate the activities according to the developing abilities and interests of the children in the setting.


Phase two

Phase two moves children on from oral blending and segmenting to blending and segmenting with at least 19 letters.  By the end of this phase children should be able to read some small vc words (vowel consonant words) and cvc words (consonant vowel consonant words) and spell these with either magnetic letters or writing letters.  They will also be introduced to reading two-syllable words and simple captions as well as learning to read some high-frequency ‘tricky’ words.


Letters in phase two are taught in a set order of letter progression:

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


Tricky words – I, no, the, to, go, into


Phase three

In Phase three children will be taught another 25 graphemes, most of which are two letter digraphs (e.g oa).  Pupils are taught to represent about 42 phonemes by a grapheme.  Children also continue to practice CVC blending and segmenting applying their knowledge to reading and spelling simple two-syllable words and captions.  They will also learn letter names and read and spell some more ‘tricky’ words.


The phonemes (sounds) taught in phase three are:


Set 6 –  j  v  w  x

Set 7 -  y  z  qu


 sh      ch       th      ng      nk  (spelling rules for nk)

 ai       ee      oa       oo (long and short)     ar       or

igh      ur       ow      oi      ear     air      ure      er


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


Phase four

During phase four children will continue to practise phonemes already learnt and consolidate knowledge of graphemes (written version of a sound).

Pupils will also be taught to blend, read and spell words containing adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words.  Children are taught that adjacent consonants are more than one sound but that the sounds are blended together.  They also learn to read and spell more ‘tricky’ words too.


The progression in phase four is  cvcc, ccvc, ccvcc,  words with 2 or more syllables and words with 3 adjacent consonants  (cccvc.)

An example of the kind of consonant blend and words contained in phase four showing progression is: 


st  -  must    stop    start     stamp    handstand     starlight    stronger 


There are many consonant blends but more examples are:


mp      nd      lp       br    nt    lf      sl      tw       gr      fr     sp      shr      spl


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


Phase five

Phase five is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes to use when reading and spelling.  They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for the new graphemes as well as learning different ways to pronounce the graphemes already learned. During phase 5 children will practice fluent recognition of graphemes of more than one letter and blending the phonemes they represent in words and in their reading.  Children will be taught to choose the appropriate graphemes to represent phonemes with spelling and begin to build knowledge of the spellings of specific words.


Some of the new graphemes taught for reading in phase five are:


ay          ou           ie          ea       oy        ir       

ue         aw         wh          ph         ew       oe       au    

a-e       e-e       i-e      o-e       u-e  


(The last five sounds are split-digraphs where the letters are not together in a word.)


The list of alternative spellings for each phoneme can be found on page 144 of the “Letters and sounds” document and can be accessed by clicking on the alphabet web link above.  


Tricky words – oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could


Phase six

During phase six children become fluent readers and their spellings become more accurate.  Children begin to read longer and less familiar texts with independence and they will be reading to gain information and for pleasure.


Children who may not be as confident with recognising known graphemes in words and their reading will work on spelling words using these graphemes to help understand the structure or words and also consolidate their knowledge so that any children reading digraphs in words as individual letters will gain reinforcement when they learn to spell words containing the digraphs.


In phase six we teach children to add some prefixes and suffixes to words and the related spelling rules to go with each suffix.

Our specific phonics teaching lessons occur daily in reception, year 1 and year 2 classes and twice a week in nursery. 

Phonics screening check 


Children in Year 1 have a phonics screening check during the same week in June which is a statutory government requirement in England.  The phonics screening check is to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an expected standard.  Children in year 2 may also have a phonics check if they did not achieve the required standard in year 1 or if they have not previously taken the test.  Headteachers decide if it is appropriate for each pupil to take the phonics screening check. 


The phonics screening checks are carried out on an individual one to one basis by the teacher and the checks take about 10 minutes, although these are not strictly timed and each child works at their own pace to complete the check.  The phonics screening check consists of 40 words for the child to read, which are completely decodable using phonic skills, and contains 20 real words and 20 pseudo (non-words).  Children are made aware when they are reading a non-word or "alien" word by the presence of an alien picture next to these words. 


You can read all about the year 1 phonic assessment in the Department for Education parents information phonics check leaflet below.  

How I can help my child practice phonics at home.




We use a website in school which has some fun phonic games your child can play from home too.  These are games in which children read the words using their phonic skills and then decide if the words are real words or fake words so this helps them practice skills needed for the phonics screening check too.  The children love playing 'Dragon's Den', 'Picnic on Pluto' or 'Buried Treasure' to see how many they score and you can choose the specific phonic phase from phase 2 to 5 and the specific phonemes your child has already worked on in school for extra practice.  Click on the weblink pictures above to have a go at home on the phonics play games.  


Below lots of websites with phonic games, see some phonic games websites listed below:


More information


For more information about phonics have a look at the websites below.  The first one is  a government document for parents about learning to read through phonics but there are other websites listed too: 


To find out more information about reading at Clowne Infant and Nursery School follow the picture web link below to go to our reading page and have a look at our English Intent document below.