Thank you for attending our Year 1 phonics meetings this half term and for your positive feedback. It was wonderful to see so many of you there. If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can view the presentation and some helpful videos below.

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How to blend and use robot arms:

Phase 2 sounds:

Phase 3 sounds:

Phase 5 sounds:

What is phonics?

The alphabet contains only 26 letters. Spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by letters (graphemes). In other words, a sound can be represented by a letter (e.g. ‘s’ or ‘h’) or a group of letters (e.g. ‘th’ or ‘ear’)

Once children begin learning sounds, they are used quickly to read and spell words. Children can then see the purpose of learning sounds. For this reason, the first six letters that are taught are   ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘p’, ‘i’, ‘n’. These can     immediately be used to make a number of words such as ‘sat’, ‘pin’, ‘pat’, ‘tap’, ‘nap’

Here is some useful terminology:


Sound buttons

This picture shows words with the sounds identified by sound buttons:


Where a sound is represented by one letter, a dot is placed underneath it, such as the /s/ sound in ‘see’. However, when two or three letters represent a sound, the letters are underlined, such as /th/ in ‘them’. Two letters making one sound is known as a ‘digraph’ and three letters making one sound is known as a ‘trigraph’.

When two vowel (a,e,i,o,u) sounds are split by a consonant, it is called a split digraph and is identified as above, in the word ‘snake’.


Our approach to teaching phonics at Russell Scott: Letters and Sounds

From Nursery, your child is taught from the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics programme.

Pupils from Year 1 – Year 3 have a daily twenty minute phonics session. A phonics lesson is intended to be fast paced, practical and fun! The lesson is split into 4 parts:

  1. Revisit and Review: Pupils recap prior learning.
  2. Teach: Pupils are taught a new sound/spelling rule and how to apply it when reading and writing words.
  3. Practise: Pupils are given the opportunity to read words containing the focus sound.
  4. Apply: Children read words containing the taught sound at sentence and/or text level.

Here is an overview of the 5 phases of the Letters and Sounds programme:

Phase One (Nursery)

The aim of this phase is to foster children’s speaking and listening skills as preparation for learning to read with phonics. You can play a vital role in helping your children develop these skills, by encouraging your children to listen carefully and talk  about what they hear, see and do.

Phase 1 is divided into 7 areas:

1. Environmental sounds – To develop pupils’ awareness of the sounds around them and develop their listening skills.

2. Instrumental sounds – To develop pupils’ awareness of sounds made by instruments.

3. Body percussion – To develop pupils’ awareness of sounds and rhythms.

4. Rhythm and Rhyme – To develop pupils’ experience of rhythm and rhyme in speech.

5. Alliteration – Focussed on initial sounds in words, where children match objects which begin with the same sound.

6. Voice sounds – Distinguishing between different vocal sounds and beginning to blend sounds orally.

7. Oral blending and segmenting – To develop pupils’ ability to orally blend and segment.


Phase Two- Four (Reception)

Phase Two is when systematic, high quality phonic work begins. During Phase Two to Four, children learn:

  •  How to represent each of the 42 sounds by a letter or sequence of letters.

Taught sounds at Phase 2:


Taught sounds at Phase 3:



*Please note, there are no new sounds taught at Phase 4, as this is an opportunity for pupils to apply their learning at Phase 3 and practise tricky consonant blends such as /cr/, /st/ and /fl/ etc.

Pupils also learn:

  • How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (split) words for spelling.
  • Letter names
  • How to read and spell some high frequency ‘tricky’ words containing sounds not yet learnt:






Phase Five (Years 1 and 2)

Children learn a new set of sounds, plus alternative ways of pronouncing and spelling  sounds:


They learn some new tricky words to read and spell:


The video below demonstrates how to articulate the sounds taught:

Due to the complexity of Phase 5, children often need to continue to practise and apply their phonics as they move into KS2. At Russell Scott, we aim to continue to teach daily phonics sessions throughout Year 3 and beyond for those pupils who have gaps in their phonics knowledge.

Once children are secure in the alternative ways of pronouncing and spelling the sounds taught during Phase 5, they begin to learn more complex spelling rules as explained in the National Curriculum. You can find information on spelling for Years 1-6 by viewing the National Curriculum here.


How is phonics assessed?

Towards the end of the academic year, all Year 1 children take the Phonic Screening Check. This is a National check that all Year 1 children must take and is assesses their ability to phonically decode real and pseudo, or ‘nonsense’ words. You will be informed of your child’s result by the end of this term. Meanwhile, you can find information about the check by clicking here.

If your child does not meet the required standard to pass the check in Year 1, they will receive intensive support throughout Year 2, before taking the test again at the end of the academic year. If they do not meet the required standard at this point, they will receive five intervention sessions per week to address their needs as they move through Year 3 and beyond, if necessary.


How you can support your child with phonics:

Would you like to support your child with phonics at home? Here are some free videos, websites and apps which may give you an insight into phonics and how it is taught:


Oxford Owl has some really useful information about phonics for Parents and Carers.

Phonics Play has lots of free games that your child will enjoy playing at home. You can also register and pay for access to more activities if you wish.

The following free apps may help your child to apply their phonics at home:

Little Writer

Pocket Phonics

Twinkl Phonics



  1. Leah-Jane Keith mum

    Really useful advice

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