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St Theresa's RC Primary School

Phonics and Early Reading

Our Phonics and Early Reading Subject Lead is Mr R. Hawkins and our Subject Link Governor is Mairhead Handrick. 

Statement of Phonics and Early Reading Intent

At St. Theresa’s RC Primary School, we strive to develop the children into confident speakers, readers and writers. We want them to develop a passion for life-long success in English and that passion begins with the teaching of phonics in the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception).

We love reading and believe phonics is crucial to develop and secure early reading skills. Phonics is taught using Bug Club Phonics, which is one of the DfE’s approved phonics teaching programmes and aims to help all children to read by the age of six in a fun and accessible way.  Following its own proven progression, the programme matches the National Curriculum and Early Learning Goals.

Phonic sessions take place everyday in EYFS and KS1 using a whole class approach. Daily intervention groups ensure that children who need further support to keep up, receive it. The Phonic Phase Plan for EYFS to Year 1 can be found by clicking on the link below.  

Bug Club Phonics Progression Chart

The aim is that children will be capable of reading fluently and spelling accurately by the end of Year 2. In Key Stage 2 phonics continues to be taught implicitly through the daily spelling activity, as well as a revision of previously taught sounds every afternoon.

We run phonics workshops for parents throughout the year – upcoming dates are published in our weekly newsletter. 

Reading books

Reading Books in EYFS and Key Stage 1 are chosen to match their current phonics ability, so children can apply their phonics knowledge acquisition in their reading. 

In EYFS and KS1 we also follows the Bug Club Phonics programme to support early reading. Bug Club is a finely-levelled reading scheme, which ensures that all children can find books at exactly the right level for them. Every book is matched to their current phonics phase which assists with becoming a fluent reader. What’s more, there are online versions for every printed title and a personalised website for each child.

active learn-Phonics bug online reading books

Username _________( Childs individual username- see your class teacher)

Password: school123

School Code: strp

Why Synthetic Phonics?

“Synthetic phonics offers the vast majority of young children the best and most direct route to becoming skilled readers and writers.”  Sir Jim Rose, Rose Review of Reading 2006.

Synthetic phonics is simply the ability to convert a letter or letter group into sounds that are then blended together into a word.

 What does Phonics consist of ?


  • Identifying sounds in spoken words.
  • Recognising the common spellings of each phoneme.
  • Blending phonemes into words for reading.
  • Segmenting words into phonemes for spelling.
  • Although there are 26 letters in the English alphabet, there are 44 speech sounds.


Blending is the skill of joining sounds together to read words. Children are taught to say the separate sounds in a word and to then blend them together to decode the word. 


 A digraph is a sound that is represented by two letters e.g. the sound 'a' in rain is represented by the digraph 'ai'. 


 A trigraph is a sound that is represented by three letters e.g. the sound 'i' in light is represented by the trigraph 'igh'. 


A grapheme is a visual representation of a sound e.g. a letter or a group of letters. 

Some sounds are represented by a single letter whilst others are represented by more than one letter. 


 A phoneme is a unit of sound e.g. the word 'cat' contains three phonemes; c - a - t. 


 Segmenting is the opposite of blending. Children are taught to segment a word into its separate sounds in order to spell it. 

split digraph 

 A split digraph is a digraph that is separated by other letters e.g. the sound 'a' in the word take is represented by the split digraph a-e. 

 As part of our daily phonics sessions, children are also taught “tricky words” These are words that cannot be segmented, such as: the, he, into. 

A phonics lesson is structured as follows:

Revise: The children will revise previous learning.

Teach: New phonemes or high frequency or tricky words will be taught.

Practice: The children will practice the new learning by reading and/or writing the words.

Apply: The children will apply their new learning by reading or writing sentences.

 Phonics Bug is split into 5 different phases. 

Phase 1 (Nursery)     

Phase 2 (Reception)    

Phase 3 (Reception)  Phase 4 (Reception/Year 1)   Phase 5 (Year 1)

Phonics knowledge is progressive through EYFS and KS1. Follow the link below to view our long-term plan. This shows the progression through each year group. It provides information on the phonemes children are taught and links the phonetically decodable books to each unit of learning

Phonics Bug Long Term Plan

Bug Club Phonics Phoneme

 Parents meeting Phonics 2022/2023


How can you help at home?

Videos of the sounds taught in each phase and resources to support each phase can be found by clicking on the phase links.

click on me to hear all the phonemes


Phase 1

Phase 1 is the beginning of your child's journey into reading. It involves listening to sounds and learning to discriminate between different sounds. The Phase focuses on sounds in everyday life rather than sounds in words. Phase 1 lays the essential foundations for all the phonic letter learning which begins in Phase 2. If your child cannot identify individual sounds in the everyday world and differentiate between them e.g. a car horn and a boiling kettle, then they will struggle to begin hearing the separate sounds that make up words. If you have a pre-school child, a child early in Reception or if your child is a little older but struggles to hear the 'separate sounds in words,' then click on the link below to an external website for some activities to support your child with this.


Phase 1 games

Phase 2

Phase 2 Children are taught the letters in a set order so they can be encouraged to blend the letters to read and make words. This can take place as soon as Set 1 has been taught. For example, they can be asked to sound out the letters s a t to read sat or find the letters p a t to make the word pat. 

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 

Click on the link for support

Phase 2

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. In this Phase, a further 25 letters and graphemes are taught. The final two sets of letters are taught first followed by consonant digraphs and vowel digraphs. 

Set 6: j, v, w, x 

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu 

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng 

Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er 


Click on the link for support

phase 3

Phase 4

Children are not taught any new phonemes or graphemes. Instead, they are taught to further manipulate the phonemes and graphemes they have already learnt. Many of the words children explored in Phase 2 and 3 were monosyllabic (words of one syllable). In Phase 4, children explore more polysyllabic words (words containing more than one syllable). Many of the words in Phase 2 and 3 required children to blend approximately three sounds together in order to read them. Phase 4 requires children to blend an increasing number of sounds together in order to read. 

Phase 4 TeachingOverview 
In Phase 4 words are often referred to in relation to how many vowels and consonants they contain. 

The word ‘cod’ is a CVC word (consonant / vowel / consonant). Other CVC words include: sad, net & him. 

CCVC Words 
The word ‘crab’ is a CCVC word (consonant / consonant / vowel / consonant). Other CCVC words include: trim, flat & step. 

CVCC Words 
The word ‘help’ is a CVCC word (consonant / vowel / consonant / consonant). Other CVCC words include: fist, mend and test. 

As children progress through Phase 4 they become more confident and skilled in reading and spelling words with a greater number of letters and graphemes. 

Phase 4

Phase 5

Children are introduced to new graphemes for reading. Some of these graphemes represent phonemes (sounds) that they have already learnt a grapheme for. For example, in Phase 3 children were taught 'ai' as the grapheme for the phoneme /a/ (as in rain). In Phase 5, children are taught that the phoneme /a/ can also be represented by the graphemes 'ay' (as in play) or 'a-e' (as in make). This variation needs to be taught as it is common in our language system. Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break. With practice, the speed at which children can recognise and blend graphemes will improve as they become more fluent readers. 


Click on the link for support

Phase 5


  • Play ‘I spy’
  • Play with magnetic letters, using some two-grapheme (letter) combinations.
  • Help your child learn their spellings.
  • Spot graphemes in books.
  • Praise your child for trying out words and value their use of their phonic knowledge.
  • Help your child learn the tricky words by playing online games (links below). for phonic games.  
  • Read to your child: This is vital! listening to stories and word pronunciation is key in the development of reading and comprehension. 

bug club parent slides

Please remember that children learn at different paces. The year group guidelines for each phase are just guidelines, so don’t worry if your child is slightly above or below the appropriate phase!

Useful Websites:

REMEMBER: Phonics is not the only thing needed to become a fluent reader and writer. Please continue to read with your child each night and encourage them to sound out,  re-read to check it makes sense, use pictures for clues, ask questions and talk about the book and most importantly ENJOY READING!

Should you require any further information or support with your child’s reading, please do not hesitate to contact the class teacher.

Alternatively, please contact Mr. Hawkins who is our Phonics subject leader.