Phonics at Bedford Drive Primary School


At Bedford Drive Primary School, we use a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics using the Letters and Sounds Programme

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This begins as soon as children enter our school in F1 with Phase 1. Children are taught to isolate the sounds they hear around them including body percussion and environmental sounds, orally recognise rhyming strings and hear initial sounds in word then begin to orally segment and blend simple words – c-a-t    sh-ee-p   d-u-ck. This is taught in a fun, engaging way with lots of rhymes, songs and active games.


 Direct Phonics sessions happen daily from F2.

When children move into F2 they consolidate their learning and are introduced to Phase 2 when they learn the sounds that letters make. There are 44 sounds to learn! They are also introduced to some tricky words that can’t be segmented and blended. Teachers supplement Letters and Sounds with Jolly phonics stories, songs and actions; a multi-sensory approach making learning fun and engaging. Children are taught to make the links between the sounds they hear and the graphemes (letters) they read and write. Children have lots of opportunities to practice these skills during Continuous Provision.


By Christmas in F2 children are beginning Phase 3. During Phase 3 children learn a further 25 new graphemes including consonant digraphs – sh  ch   th ng – and vowel digraphs – ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er. They have daily practice using them to read and write simple words. They are taught 24 more tricky words.

As children complete F2 and move into Year 1 they begin Phase 4. When children start Phase 4 of the Letters and Sounds phonics programme, they will know a grapheme for each of the 42 phonemes. They will be able to blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and segment in order to spell them. At this phase 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). Phase 4 requires children to blend an increasing number of sounds together in order to read. Teaching and learning is still fun, multi-sensory and active with lots of opportunities to apply the skills taught when reading and writing.

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Throughout Year 1 children will master Phase 5.  ‘Here, we start introducing alternative spellings for sounds, like 'igh'. Children master these in reading first, and as their fluency develops, they begin to use them correctly in spelling.

Children learn new graphemes (different ways of spelling each sound) and alternative pronunciations for these: for example, learning that the grapheme ‘ow’ makes a different sound in ‘snow’ and ‘cow’. 

They should become quicker at blending, and start to do it silently.

They learn about split digraphs such as the a-e in ‘name.’

They’ll start to choose the right graphemes when spelling, and will learn more tricky words, including ‘people,’ ‘water’ and ‘friend’. They also learn one new phoneme: /zh/, as in ‘treasure.’

By the end of Year 1, children should be able to:

·         Say the sound for any grapheme they are shown

·         Write the common graphemes for any given sound (e.g. ‘e,’ ‘ee,’ ‘ie,’ ‘ea’)

·         Use their phonics knowledge to read and spell unfamiliar words of up to three syllables

·         Read all of the 100 high frequency words, and be able to spell most of them

·         Form letters correctly

At the end of Year 1, all children are given a Phonics Screening Check to ensure they have mastered the appropriate knowledge.

Children move into the final Phase 6 in Year 2, with the aim that they become fluent readers and accurate spellers.

By Phase 6, children should be able to read hundreds of words using one of three strategies:

·         Reading them automatically

·         Decoding them quickly and silently

·         Decoding them aloud

 They will also learn, among other things:

·         Prefixes and suffixes, e.g. ‘in-’ and ‘-ed’

·         The past tense

·         Memory strategies for high frequency or topic words

·         Proof-reading

·         How to use a dictionary

·         Where to put the apostrophe in words like ‘I’m’

·         Spelling rules

Although formal phonics teaching is usually complete by the end of Year 2, children continue to use their knowledge as they move up the school. ‘The whole aim of phonics teaching is not just to learn the sounds, but to use them as a tool for reading and spelling.

 Everything leads on to independent reading and writing.