What is Phonics?

Phonics is making connections between the sounds (phonemes) of our spoken words and the letters that are used to write them down.

At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book - that string of confused, alien ciphers - shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.

Little Wandle Letters and Sounds
Children in a class at Leagrave Primary School

The teaching of Phonics at Leagrave follows the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ scheme to teach Systematic Synthetic Phonics, in order to give every child the best possible start to their reading and writing journey. The scheme teaches children a cumulative progression of grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) that they immediately practise through oral blending, reading and spelling words and sentences, and, later on, reading fully decodable books. Children review and revise GPCs and words daily, weekly and across terms and years in order to move this knowledge into their long-term memory. The programme lends itself to a mastery approach to teaching phonics. This means that all children in the class learn the same content at the same time and it applies the principle of all the children keeping up. Children in Reception, Key Stage 1 and 2 take part in short, focused phonics and spelling sessions within their classes (and small groups), working at an aspirational pace to move each child on to meet their full potential.

A wide range of exciting resources and reading books, matched to the grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC) progression of our chosen phonics programme, are used across the school to ensure that children are engaged and interested in their phonics learning. We teach phonics as one of the strategies a successful reader and writer uses to make sense of words and to create texts, ensuring that we offer the children plenty of meaningful opportunities to apply their learning, and so become keen, independent readers able to enjoy the rich literacy environment in our school and community.

This programme is initially introduced to our Nursery children building their awareness of sound through activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending. These activities include:

  • sharing high-quality stories and poems
  • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
  • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
  • attention to high-quality language.

This lays the foundations for the phonics work of linking letters and sounds in Phase 2.

Children in Reception are introduced to grapheme and phoneme correspondence(GPC) which enables them to link written letters with sounds. They are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
Autumn 1 Phase 2 graphemesNew Tricky Words
s a t p i n m d g o c k ck e u r h b f lis I the
Autumn 2 Phase 2 graphemesNew Tricky Words
ff ll ss j v w x y z zz qu ch sh th ng nk
  • words with -s /s/ added at the end (hats sits)
  • words ending in s /z/ (his) and with -s /z/ added at the end (bag sings)
put* pull* full* as and has his her go no to into she push* he of we me be
Spring 1 Phase 3 graphemesNew Tricky Words
ai ee igh oa oo oo ar or ur ow oi ear air er
  • words with double letters
  • longer words
was you they my by all are sure pure
Spring 2 Phase 3 graphemesNo New Tricky Words

Review Phase 3

  • words with double letters, longer words, words with two or more digraphs, words ending in -ing, compound words
  • words with s /s/ /z/ at the end
  • words with -es /z/ at the end
Review all taught so far
Summer 1 Phase 4New Tricky Words

Short vowels with adjacent consonants

  • longer words and compound words
  • words ending in suffixes:
    -ing, -ed /t/, -ed /id/ /ed/, -est
said so have like some come love do were here little says there when what one out today
Summer 2 Phase 4 graphemesNo New Tricky Words

Phase 3 long vowel graphemes with adjacent consonants

  • words ending in suffixes:
    -ing, -ed /t/, -ed /id/ /ed/, -ed /d/ -er, -est
  • longer words
Review all taught so far

During the first half of the Autumn term, children in Year 1 review Phases 3 and 4 to consolidate the previous learning. Then they are taught alternative spelling choices for known phonemes to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Autumn 1Review tricky words Phases 2-4
Review Phase 3 and 4
Phase 5
/ai/ ay play
/ow/ ou cloud
/oi/ oy toy
/ea/ ea each
Phases 2–4: the put* pull* full* push* to into I no go of he she we me be was you they all are my by sure pure said have like so do some come love were there little one when out what says here today
Autumn 2 Phase 5 graphemesNew tricky words
/ur/ ir bird
/igh/ ie pie
/oo/ /uoo/ ue blue rescue
/you/ u unicorn
/oa/ o go
/igh/ i tiger
/ai/ a paper
/ee/ e he
/ai/ a-e shake
/igh/ i-e time
/oa/ o-e home
/oo/ /uoo/ u-e rude cute
/ee/ e-e these
/oo/ /uoo/ ew chew new
/ee/ ie shield
/or/ aw claw
their people oh your
Mr Mrs Ms ask*
could would should our
house mouse water want
Spring 1 Phase 5 graphemesNew tricky words
/ee/ y funny
/e/ ea head
/w/ wh wheel
/oa/ oe ou toe shoulder
/igh/ y fly
/oa/ ow snow
/j/ g giant
/f/ ph phone
/l/ le al apple metal
/s/ c ice
/v/ ve give
/u/ o-e o ou some mother young
/z/ se cheese
/s/ se c mouse fence
/ee/ ey donkey
/oo/ ui ou fruit soup
any many again
who whole where two
school call different
thought through friend work
Spring 2 Phase 5 graphemesNew tricky words
/ur/ or word
/oo/ ou owl awful could
/air/ are share
/or/ au our oor al author dinosaur floor walk
/ch/ tch ture match adventure
/ar/ a al half* father*
/or/ a water
schwa in longer words: different
/o/ a want
/air/ ear ere bear there
/ur/ ear learn
/r/ wr wrist
/s/ st sc whistle science
/c/ ch school
/sh/ ch chef
/z/ ze freeze
schwa at the end of words: actor
once laugh because eye
Summer 2 Phase 5 graphemesNew tricky words
/ai/ eigh aigh ey ea eight straight grey break
/n/ kn gn knee gnaw
/m/ mb thumb
/ear/ ere eer here deer
/zh/ su si treasure vision
/j/ dge bridge
/i/ y crystal
/j/ ge large
/sh/ ti si ci p otion mission mansion delicious
/or/ augh our oar ore daughter pour oar more
busy beautiful pretty hour
move improve parents shoe

During the Autumn term in Year 2, children consolidate their segmenting and blending skills to become fluent readers and spellers. The No-Nonsense spelling scheme is then introduced to help children learn the spelling rules, such as adding suffixes to words.

In KS2, some pupils undertake a Rapid catch-up intervention programme if they experience any difficulties with reading and spelling and are not able to keep up with their peers.