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Hillsborough Nursery & Primary School

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Phonics for Parents


Welcome to our phonics page for parents! We are committed to ensuring that our children are given the best opportunity to leave Key Stage 1 as fluent and confident readers and we know that children who are most successful in that journey are those who are supported with their phonics and reading at home. 


Since September 2021, we have been using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds scheme to teach phonics in school. More information about this scheme can be found on their website:


What is phonics? 


Phonics is a way of teaching reading where your child is taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent. Children can then start to read words by blending the sounds together to make a word. It is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (graphemes, or letter groups).


There is lots of terminology (words) we use in phonics which your child will also become very familiar with. Any terminology you need to know for phonics has been written in green. 


phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. The phonemes used when speaking English are:




If you'd like to hear how each sound is produced, you can watch the videos below:


Phonics Teaching: Step By Step


  • Step 1: Decoding 

Children are taught letter sounds in Foundation. This involves thinking about what sound a word starts with, saying the sound out loud and then recognising how that sound is represented by a letter.


The aim is for children to be able to see a letter and then say the sound it represents out loud. This is called decoding.

Our phonics programmes starts children off by learning the letters s, a, t, n, i, p first. This is because once they know each of those letter sounds, they can then be arranged into a variety of different words (for example: sat, tip, pin, nip, tan, tin, sip, etc.). While children are learning to say the sounds of letters out loud, they will also begin to learn to write these letters (encoding). They will be taught where they need to start with each letter and how the letters need to be formed in relation to each other. Letters (or groups of letters) that represent phonemes are called graphemes.


  • Step 2: Blending

Children then need to go from saying the individual sounds of each letter, to being able to blend the sounds and say the whole word. This can be a big step for many children and takes time.


  • Step 3: Decoding CVC words

Children will focus on decoding (reading) three-letter words arranged consonant, vowel, consonant (CVC words) for some time. They will learn other letter sounds, such as the consonants g, b, d, h and the remaining vowels e, o, u. Often, they will be given letter cards to put together to make CVC words which they will be asked to say out loud.


  • Step 4: Decoding consonant clusters in CVCC and CCVC words

Children will also learn about consonant clusters: two consonants located together in a word, such tr, cr, st, lk, pl. Children will learn to read a range of CCVC words (consonant, consonant, vowel, consonant) such as trap, stop, plan. They will also read a range of CVCC words (consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant) such as milk, fast, cart.


  • Step 5: Vowel digraphs

Children are then introduced to vowel digraphs. A digraph is two sounds that together make one sound such as: /oa/, /oo/, /ee/, /ai/. They will move onto sounding out words such as deer, hair, boat, etc. and will be taught about split digraphs (or 'magic e'). They will also start to read words combining vowel digraphs with consonant clusters, such as: train, groan and stool.


  • Step 6: Consonant digraphs

Children will also learn the consonant digraphs (two consonants that together make one sound) ch and sh and start blending these with other sounds to make words, such as: chat, shop, chain and shout.


By the end of Foundation, children should be able to write one grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes. In Year 1, they will start to explore vowel digraphs and trigraphs (a group of three letters that makes a single sound, like 'igh' as in 'sigh') further. They will begin to understand, for example, that the letters ea can make different sounds in different words (dream and bread). They will also learn that one sound might be represented by different groups of letters: for example, light and pie (igh and ie make the same sound).


Children in Year 2 will be learning spelling rules, such as adding suffixes to words (such as -ed, -ing, -er, -est, -ful, -ly, -y, -s, -es, -ment and -ness). They will be taught rules on how to change root words when adding these suffixes (for example, removing the 'e' from 'have' before adding 'ing') and then move onto harder concepts, such as silent letters (knock, write, etc) and particular endings (le in bottle and il in fossil).


Phonic Apps for tablets and mobiles

Click on the link to explore a range of free and purchasable apps which are available to download and which can be used to support your child's phonics learning at home.


Supporting Phonics and Reading at Home - advice sheets

Below you will find support and guidance on phoneme pronunciation as well as handwriting. You will also find our guidance on the books we send home from school for each Y1 and Y2.