At St Finbar’s, we deliver phonics through Letters and Sounds. More information can be found on the link provided.

Letters and Sounds link

Phase 1

When children join nursery they begin Phase 1 phonics. Phase 1 concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills. Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects. Each aspect contains three strands: Tuning in to sounds (auditory discrimination), Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing) and Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension).

Phase 2

When children are secure with the seven aspects taught in Phase 1, they move onto phase 2.

Set 1: s, a, t, p
Set 2: i, n, m, d
Set 3: g, o, c, k
Set 4: ck, e, u, r
Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

As soon as each set of letters is introduced, children will be encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s-a-t to make the word sat. They will also start learning to segment words. For example, they might be asked to find the letter sounds that make the word tap from a small selection of magnetic letters.


Children will also be taught 6 new tricky words- no, go, I, the, to, into

phase 2 tricky words


Phase 3

By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2. Throughout Phase 3, twenty-five new graphemes are introduced:

Set 6: j, v, w, x

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel diagraphs ai, ee, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, er

Trigraphs igh, ear, air, ure,

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

phase 3 tricky words

Phase 4

In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children’s knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.

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

phase 4 tricky words

Phase 5

Children entering Phase 5 will already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and flask. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words (words with more than one syllable) such as football, Batman, Desktop.

In Phase 5, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make.

Alternative pronunciations for graphemes (letters) will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.

During Phase 5, the following tricky words are introduced: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could

phase 5 tricky words


Nonsense Words/Alien Words

As children develop their skills, we want them to be able to apply their knowledge of sounds and decoding skills to read any unfamiliar word, whether it is real or nonsense.  During lessons, children will have opportunities to practice their decoding skills by sounding out the letters in ‘Alien word’.  This shows us that children are using their decoding skills and not relying on existing knowledge of real words.  This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check, which children complete in the Summer term of Year 1.

See the link below for Phonics Screening Check information:


Here are some websites that have some interactive games your child can play to practise their skills:


Phonics Play is a useful resource with free interactive games.

Phonics Play resources


Below you will find sound mats for the different phases taught in St Finbar’s

Phase 2 phoneme mat

Phase 3 phoneme mat

Phase 4 blends and clusters mat

Phase 5 phoneme mat



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