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Phonics at St Clement's


At St Clement's we teach children how to read through ‘Phonics’ in Reception and KS1.  By KS2 (Year 3) pupils should be reading to learn (rather than learning to read) if they have met the standard set by the Department for Education nationally.  Children who do not meet the standard will receive additional and appropriate support within school. The main document we use is the Letters and Sounds resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007.  We also use 'Jolly Phonics' and the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme - Floppy's phonics to supplement this. 


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and accurately. They are taught how to:


  • Recognise the sounds (phonemes) that each individual letter or groups of letters make e.g. sh, igh, and their corresponding written form (graphemes).
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to build words.


Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.


Research suggests that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read.


There are six overlapping phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance for Practitioners and Teachers.




Phonic Knowledge and Skills


Phase One (from pre-school and on-going)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting. This phase is a 'golden thread' running alongside all future phases.

Phase Two (Reception) up to 12 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one phoneme for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple decodable phase 2 words and captions.

Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one phoneme for each letter, graphemes such as ch, oo, igh.  On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the 'simple code' i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.  Pupils develop their skills in reading captions, sentences and questions.

Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

Now we move on to the 'complex code'. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know such as  as in train (phase 3), ei as in rein a as in apron, eigh as in eight etc. plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know such as ow in cow (phase 3) an ow as in grow.

Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.


In addition to this, pupils are taught to sight read 'high frequency words' such as I, go and to which are not decodable during phases 1-3.  This applies to all phases. 


In Year 1 children will undergo a phonics screening check where they will be asked to read 40 words aloud to an adult (usually their class teacher). This check is to assess their ability to blend and segment graphemes in words for reading.  The check contains real words and non-words. Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children: Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode. We will share the results of the phonics screening test with you and if your child requires further support then teachers will be able to share the support strategies with you. Children who do not pass the test in Year 1 will retake it in Year 2.


In 2016 at St Clement's, 93% of the children in Year 1 passed the phonics screening test!  This is well above national averages.