St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

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At St. Joseph’s, we use Letters and Sounds to support the children to become readers and writers. 


What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and Sounds is a systematic approach for teaching children to read using phonics. It is used in many schools in England, but is not a mandatory part of the National Curriculum. It is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age 7.


The phonic approach encourages us to directly link letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes). Children can then use these ‘phonemes’ and blend them together, or segment words to help them with their reading and writing.


Phase 1 Letters and Sounds

Approx age: 3–4 | Nursery/Reception

Phase 1 supports children’s developing speaking and listening skills and linking of sounds and letters. Activities are divided into seven groups:


Environmental sounds.

Instrumental sounds.

Body percussion.

Rhythm and rhyme.


Voice sounds.

Oral blending and segmenting.

Children should be encouraged to enjoy books from as early an age as possible. However, the focus of this phase is on listening to and repeating sounds, rather than on directly reading words.


Phase 2 Letters and Sounds

Phase 2 introduces simple letter-sound correspondences. As each set of letters is introduced, children are encouraged to use their new knowledge to sound out and blend words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s–a–t to make the word sat.

Parent and carers guide to pronouncing phonemes

Watch to find out how to pronounce the sounds we use in the lesson videos.Ne




Set 1:

s, a, t, p

at, a, sat, pat, tap, sap, as


Set 2:

i – it, is, sit, pit, tip

n – an, in, nip, pan, nap

m – am, man, mat, map, Tim

d – dad, and, sad, dim, Sid


Set 3:

g – tag, gag, sag, gas, pig

o – got, on, not, top, dog

c – can, cot, cop, cap, cod

k – kid, kit, Kim, Ken


Set 4:

ck – kick, sack, dock, sick, pocket

e – get, pet, ten, net, pen

u – up, mum, run, mug, cup

r – rip, ram, rat, rocket, carrot


Set 5:

h – had, him, his, hot, hut

b – but, big, back, bed, bus

f, ff – of, if, off, fit, fog, puff

l, ll – let, leg, lot, bell, doll

ss – less, hiss, mass, mess, boss

Phase 2 tricky words: the, to, no, go, I, into


Phase 3 Letters and Sounds
In Phase 3, children build on the letter-sound correspondences learned in Phase 2. They learn consonant digraphs (sounds made up of two letters together such as ‘ch’ or ‘ll’) and long vowel sounds (such as ‘igh’ or ‘ai’).


Set 6:
j  jet, jam, jog, Jan
v  van, vet, velvet
w  wig, will, web
x  fox, box, six



Set 7:
y  yes, yet, yell
z  zip, zig-zag
zz  buzz, jazz
qu  quit, quick, liquid


Consonant digraphs:
ch  chip, chat, rich
sh  shop, shed, fish
th  thin, moth, that
ng ring, thing, song


Vowel digraphs and trigraphs:
ai  rain, tail, aim
  bee, leek, see
  high, sigh, might
  boat, toad, foal
  boot, food, moon
  book, wood, foot
  park, art, car
  for, torn, fork

ur  hurt, fur, surf
  cow, owl, town
  coin, boil, oil
  dear, shear, year
  fair, pair, hair
  sure, pure, manure
  dinner, summer, letter

Phase 3 tricky words: he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her



Phase 4 Letters and Sounds
Children will consolidate their knowledge during this phase and they will learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants (for example, trap, strong, milk and crept).

Phase 4 tricky words: said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what



Phase 5 Letters and Sounds

Children will learn some new graphemes for reading. They will also be taught alternative pronunciations for known graphemes. For example, they have already learned ow as in cow and will now learn ow as in blow.

In addition, they will learn alternative spellings for known phonemes. For example, the sound /igh/ has been learned as the grapheme igh as in ‘night’, but can also be spelled y, ie, and i-e.


New graphemes for reading:
ay  day, play, crayon
  cloud, sound, about
  pie, tie, cried
  sea, meat, read
  toy, enjoy, boy
  bird, shirt, first
  blue, true, glue
  paw, claw, yawn
  wheel, whisper, when


ph  photo, dolphin, alphabet
  new, crew, flew
  toe, foe, tomatoes
  Paul, launch, haul
  make, game, snake
  these, Eve, extreme
  like, time, slide
  home, bone, pole
  rule, June, flute

Phase 5 tricky words: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could


Phase 6 Letters and sounds

In Phase 6 children will read with increasing fluency. They will have learned most of the common letter-sound correspondences and can read familiar words automatically without needing to sound out and blend.

Children will work on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters, and so on.