Phonics refers to the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds and understand the link between sounds (phoneme) and the way it is written (grapheme).

At Manifold Church of England Academy children throughout Reception and Key Stage 1 take part in a daily phonics session. These focus on developing reading, writing and speaking and listening skills. When teaching phonics we use a government produced scheme of work called Letters and Sounds. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.


letters and sounds

This is a structured scheme which takes children through 6 phases of learning throughout EYFS and Key Stage 1; each phase building on the skills and knowledge of the previous phase. The children are taught to identify and blend for reading the 44 sounds of the English language. At the same time, children are taught that there are a number of words in the English language that cannot be decoded phonically. These tricky words are taught using techniques such as speed writing, word building using magnetic letters, flash cards and mnemonics. Children are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’. ‘Tricky words’ are ones that we can’t sound – so these words just need to be remembered.

Phase 1
Showing an awareness of rhyme and alliteration. Distinguishing between sounds in the environment and phonemes. Exploring and experimenting with sounds and words. Discriminating speech sounds in words. Beginning to orally blend and segment phonemes.

Phase 2

Blending for reading and segmenting for spelling simple cvc words.

Letter sets

Set 1 - s, a, t, p,

Set 2 - l, 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

Knowing one grapheme for each of the 43 phonemes.

Letter sets:

Set 6 - j, v, w, x

Set 7 - y, z, zz, qu


ear, air, ure, er, ar, or, ur, ow, oi,

ai, ee, igh, oa, oo

Consonant digraphs:

ch, sh, th, ng.

Phase 4

This is a consolidation unit. There are no new graphemes to learn but the children learn how read longer words such as stamp, plug, flag, twig.

Phase 5


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

Alternative pronunciations for:

i, o, c, g, u, ow, ie, ea, er, a, y, ch, ou

Phase 6

At this stage children should be able to spell words phonemically although not always correctly. The main aim is of this phases is to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers. 



  • Vowels – the open sounds / letters of the alphabet: a,e,i,o and u
  • Consonants – sounds/ letters of the alphabet that are not vowels.
  • Blend – to merge individual sounds together to pronounce a word, e.g. s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap
  • Cluster – two (or three) letters making two (or three) sounds, e.g. the first three letters of 'straight' are a consonant cluster
  • Digraph – two letters making one sound, e.g. sh, ch, th, ph.
  • Vowel digraphs – two vowels which, together, make one sound, e.g. ai, oo, ow
  • Split digraph – two letters, split, making one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site
  • Grapheme – letter or a group of letters representing one sound, e.g. sh, ch, igh, ough (as in 'though')
  • Mnemonic — a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a snake shaped like the letter 'S'
  • Phoneme — the smallest single identifiable sound, e.g. the letters 'sh' represent just one sound, but 'sp' represents two (/s/ and /p/)
  • Segment (vb) — to split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it, e.g. the word 'cat' has three phonemes: /c/, /a/, /t/

Hints and tips

Try to say the short sound of the letter, not the letter name. This will help children when they come to blend words together. E.g. the letter names dee-oh-gee don’t blend together to make ‘dog’.

Read regularly with your child - Encourage children to recognise sounds and as they grow more confident, encourage them to blend the sounds together and to read sentences independently.

When you are reading to your child, emphasise the rhyming words and ask what is special about them.

Initial letter sound hunt – Say a sound to your child and see if they can find something in their house that starts with that letter. This also works well with ‘I spy’ but remember to use the phoneme (letter sound) and not its name.

Songs – Sing nursery rhymes and traditional songs with your child and talk to them about the patterns that they notice in the words.

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