Tickhill St Mary'sCofE Primary and Nursery School

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Phonics at St Mary's

Phonics at St Mary’s


Here at Tickhill St Mary’s we recognise the importance of developing children’s early reading and writing skills. We use a hybrid model of Letters and Sounds with some strategies from Read Write Inc. and Jolly Phonics to help us achieve this. The children are taught in small, similar ability groups and are regularly assessed by their class teacher or teaching assistant to ensure that we are best meeting their needs.


Each lesson lasts between 20-30 minutes and are structured following the planning cycle;

  • Revisit and Review
  • Teach
  • Practise
  • Apply

Following this sequence ensures that every lesson has a good pace and a clear structure. We aim to make the lessons fun for the children by planning a wide range of activities which enable them to practise and apply their skills in a wide range of contexts. Sounds are taught across two days with one day focused on reading and the second day on writing with Friday being a recap of that week’s learning. This allows the children to be taught how to apply their new learning in both reading and writing. 


In order to encourage and motivate the children, many different fun praise actions are used:

  • Round of a claws
  • Fan-tastic
  • Marshmallow clap
  • Ketchup clap
  • Whoosh!
  • Firework
  • Popcorn


Letters and Sounds has six phases as follows;

Phase One: 7 aspects under 3 strands;

  • Tuning into sounds (auditory discrimination).
  • Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing.
  • Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension).

Phase Two: The purpose of this phase is to teach at least 19 letters, and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters.


Phase Three: The purpose of this phase is to teach another 25 graphemes, most of them comprising two letters (e.g. ‘oa’), so the children can represent each of about 42 phonemes by a grapheme.


Phase 4: The purpose of this phase is to consolidate children’s knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words.


Phase 5: The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know, where relevant.


Phase 6: (SPAG) During this phase, children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.


By the beginning of year two we expect that the majority of children will progress onto SPAG. Those children who do not pass their phonic screening check in year one will receive daily phonic lessons plus intervention to support them in catching up quickly to their peers.


Key strategies included in our phonic lessons:

  • Step 1: Hear it and Say it (introduce the sound – encouraging the children to hear and say the sound)
  • Step 2: Read it (show the children the sound on the sound cards and say the sounds)
  • Step 3: Speed Sounds review (Look at previously taught sound and recognise all of the sounds)
  • My Turn Your Turn- Signalling when it is the teacher and pupils turn to speak.
  • Fred talk (use word cards and sound out to read and write)


Tricky and High Frequency words

We teach tricky and high frequency words in line with each Letters and Sounds Phase. Children are regularly assessed on their ability to read and write these words and a record of this is kept in order to try and close any gaps and move learning forward.


Phonic sounds

It is important that sounds need to be taught in the purest form. The correct way of saying the sounds can be found using the following link:

(This will give a You Tube link to the sound clip – Articulation of Phonemes)

We also use the Jolly phonic songs and actions to support with introducing each sound. They can be found using the following links:

Phase 2:

Phase 3:


Key Vocabulary



  • Phoneme: Phonemes are the smallest unit of speech-sounds which make up a word. If you change a phoneme in a word, you would change its meaning. For example, there are three phonemes in the word sit /s/-/i/-/t/. If you change the phoneme /s/ for /f/, you have a new word, fit. If you change the phoneme /t/ in fit for a /sh/, you have a new word, fish - /f/-/i/-/sh/
  • Grapheme: One letter or one group of letters used to write one sound eg. The sound ‘f’ can be written with the grapheme f (fun), ff (huff)

The sound ‘igh’ can be written with the grapheme igh (night) or i (knife) or ie (tie)

  • Digraph: two letters making one sound, e.g. sh, ch, th, ph.
  • Split digraph – two letters, split, making one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site
  • Fred talk:  Fred is the puppet (frog) who says, reads and spells words in pure sounds; he never says the whole word so the children do this for him.
  • High Frequency words: High frequency words are common words, words that appear very often in written texts. They are a mixture of decodable words (words that can be sounded out) and tricky / exception words (words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way, which means the words have to be learned and recognised by sight).  
Tricky Words: Common words with an uncommon spelling eg. said, would, bought which have to be learnt by sight.


Useful Websites: