At Cirencester Primary School we begin to teach children to read using the phonics programme ‘Letters and Sounds’.  


This programme aims to build children's speaking and listening skills as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills to children starting in Nursery/Reception, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by the age of seven.


There are six overlapping phases as shown in the table below. Each phase gives a suggested timeframe for completion, although children all develop at different rates with their phonic knowledge. We teach phonics in daily discrete sessions from Reception up to Year 2. Children are organised into ability groups for phonics sessions, dependent on what phonic phase they are currently working on.


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One


Activities are divided into exploring seven aspects of sound, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two (Reception)

Up to 6 weeks

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

Phase Three (Reception)

Up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes (sounds containing 2 letters) such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes (sounds) not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

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, for example the /a/ sound can be spelt ai, ay, a_e. They also learn different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know e.g. ‘ow’ makes a different sound in cow and grow.

Phase Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

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


From Year 3 upwards we use the ‘Read Write Inc’ phonic programme to help any children who need further support with their phonics. These children practise their phonics, reading and writing in a small group situation on a daily basis.


For more information on these programmes, please visit the following websites:

Site last updated 04.05.17
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