Heathrow Primary School

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Heathrow Primary School, Harmondsworth Lane, Sipson, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 0JQ

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Heathrow Primary School



Letters and Sounds is the resource we use at Heathrow Primary School to support the systematic teaching of phonics. Children begin the Letters and Sounds programme at the start of Nursery year and continue across Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2). Every child between Reception and Year 2 has a 20-minute phonics session every day. 


The Letters and Sounds programme is separated into six phases - your child's teacher will be able to tell you which phase your child is currently working on.


It is split into 6 phases:

Phase 1: Children learn rhymes. Keep rhythms and start to relate letter sounds to (starting in Nursery) words. E.g. b for bag.

Phase 2: Children learn initial letter sounds and build 3 letter words.

Phase 3: Children learn all 44 phonemes and blend sounds to read and write words.

Phase 4:  Children blend consonants together to read difficult words e.g. blue, grab.

Phase 5: Children learn how to spell letter sounds in more than one way e.g. rain, day, make.

Phase 6: Children learn how to spell word specific spellings. E.g. turned, beautiful, shopping.


Here is the link to the Letters and Sounds page for each phase. For each phase there is a brief explanation of what is taught and a selection of resources (word cards, games and record sheets) which you can use to support your child's learning. 


We hope the following glossary is useful to you when using the Letters and Sounds pages. 


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 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.


Phase 1


This paves the way for systematic learning of phonics and usually starts in nursery or playgroup.

Teachers plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language.


Teachers teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs. They read good books to and with the children.

This helps to increase the number of words they know - their vocabulary - and helps them talk confidently about books.


Things to try at home:

  • Play games like 'I Spy'
  • Sing songs and rhymes together
  • Share books together​


Phase 2


In Phase 2, they will also be taught the phonemes (sounds) for a number of letters (graphemes).

Your child will be taught how to pronounce the sounds (phonemes) correctly to make blending easier. Try to avoid saying 'buh', 'cuh' encourage your child to say the pure sound.

s   a   t   p   i   n   m   d   

g   o   c   k   ck   e   u   r   

h   b   f   ff   l   ll   ss      

and be able to read 5 tricky words...

the   to   I   no   go

They should be able to orally blend (sound talk) cvc words e.g. when you sound out c-a-t, they can tell you the word is cat, and also orally segment cvc words e.g. when you say mum, they can pick out the sounds m-u-m.

Spelling is harder than reading. During this phase they will use lots of alternatives to pencil and paper (eg magnetic letters, writing in sand, using paint)


Phase 3


The purpose of this phase is to teach 25 graphemes (letters) most of them comprising of two letters (e.g. oa) so the children can represent each of the 42 phonemes (sounds). Your child will continue to blend and segment for reading and spelling (e.g. pool)

j   v   w   x   y   z   zz   qu   ch

jug   van   wig   box   yes   zip   buzz   quit   rich

sh   th   ng   ai   igh   oa   oo   oo   ar

shop   moth   king   rain   high   loaf   look   moon   park

or   ur   ow   oi   ear   air   ure   er

port   burn   town   boil   hear   pair   pure   hotter

and 12 more tricky words to read...

he   she   we   me   be   was

my   you   her   they   all   are

They should now, also be able to spell the 5 tricky words from phase 2.


Phase 4

In Phase 4, children continue to practice previously learned graphemenes and phonemes and learn how to read and write:

CVCC words: tent, damp, toast, chimp

For example, in the word 'toast',

t = consonant, oa = vowel, s = consonant, t = consonant.

and CCVC words: swim, plum, sport, cream, spoon

For example, in the word 'cream',

c = consonant r = consonant ea = vowel, m = consonant.

and 14 more tricky words are added too...

some   come   one   said   do   so   were

when   have   there   out   like   little   what


The children should now be able to write the Phase 3 tricky words. During Phase 4, sounds with adjacent consonants or initials and final blends are taught e.g. bl, dr, sc, ft, so. These can be sounded out but recognising them


Phase 5

The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling.

ay   ou   ie   oe   ea   oy   ir   ue

play   soup   tried   goes   heat   boy   shirt   value/blue

au   aw   wh   ph   ew   ey

author   lawn   when/who   Phillip   blew   honey

a_e   e_e   i_e   o_e   u_e

same   these   pine   bone   cube


They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know, where relevant. E.g. the phoneme 'a' can have alternative phonemes: hat/acorn/was also. 

'Y' can have alternative phonemes: yes/by/gym/very.

There are many alternatives which the children will investigate during the phase.


Phase 6

In Phase 6, the focus is on learning spelling rules for word endings or suffixes.

They learn how words change when you add certain letters. There are 12 different suffixes taught...

The children are also expected to be able to read and write the 'next 200 commons words'.

-s   -es   -ing   -ed

-er   -est   -y   -en

-ful   -ly   -ment   -ness