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What is Phonics?


At Barrow URC Primary School phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and Key Stage One. We follow the Red Rose Letters and Sounds systematic, synthetic phonics planning programme (Lancashire Professional Development Service) using the Letters and Sounds approach.


What is Phonics?


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

  • Recognise the sounds that individual letters make

  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make-such as 'sh' or 'oo'

  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word


Children can then use this knowledge to 'decode' new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.


The children are taught to read words by blending, which means pushing all the sounds together to make a word.  The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.


By the end of Reception children are expected to be secure in Phase Three. By the end of Year One children are expected to be secure in Phase Five. When finishing Key Stage One, most children at Barrow URC Primary School should be secure in Phase Six. This phase moves away from learning sounds and focuses on spelling rules and patterns.


Why phonics?


Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way-starting with the easiest sounds and progressing to the most complex-it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7 years old. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills that they need to tackle new words. Children can go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and read for enjoyment (Department for Education).

Phonics Phases 


The children are taught in groups organised by their Phonic phase.

They are assessed informally throughout the year to ensure they are secure in their phase before moving on.


Phase One

Supports the importance of speaking and listening and develops children’s discrimination of sounds, including letter sounds.


Phase Two

The children learn to pronounce the sounds themselves in response to letters, before blending them. This leads to them being able to read simple words and captions.

Letters: s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

Tricky Words: the, to, I, no, go


Phase Three

Completes the teaching of the alphabet and moves on to sounds represented by more than one letter. The children will learn letter names and how to read and spell some tricky words.

Letters: j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

Tricky Words: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, they, her, all, are


Phase Four

The children learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants.

Tricky Words: said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, out, what


Phase Five

The children broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and spelling. They will begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.

Sounds: /ee/ ea e e-e y ie ey /oo/ o ue u-e ew ui /ai/ ay a-e eigh ey /igh/ ie y i-e i /oa/ o ow o-e oe /ow/ ou ough /oi/ oy /ar/ a /or/ au aw a our augh ough /oo/ ou u /ur/ or ir er ear /ear/ eer ere /air/ ere ear are /w/ wh /f/ ph /n/ kn gn /r/ wr /s/ soft c /ch/ tch /sh/ ti, ch, s, soft c /m/ mb /j/ dge /zh/ (e.g. treasure)

Read automatically 100 HF words.

Accurately spell most of the 100 HF words automatically (See the Assessment and Progression document above).


Phase Six

This focuses more sharply on word-specific spellings. It encourages children to become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.


Here are some links to information and websites that you may find useful to help you support your child in their early reading and writing skills.