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Outwoods Primary School


At Outwoods Primary school we use a government scheme called ‘Letters and Sounds’.

Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. In each phase, children are a taught to read and spell a selection of ‘tricky words’, which are words with spellings that are unusual.  For example – he, the, children, one, they, like, was.

Phase 1

Teachers plan activities that help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. Children are taught a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs. This increases the children vocabulary and helps them talk confidently about stories.

Phase 2

In this phase the children continue practising what they have learned from phase 1. Pupils are taught certain letters of the alphabet (graphemes) and learn how they sound phonetically. The children use pictures and actions to help remember the sounds (phonemes).

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

Children are taught to blend letter sounds to make cvc words (consonant, vowel, consonant). For example -  c/ a/ t = cat,   b/e/ll = bell,  d/o/g = dog

Phase 3

The purpose of this phase is to teach more phonemes and graphemes, most of which are made of two or three letters (digraphs and trigraphs).

j,   v,   w,   x,   y,   z,   zz,   qu

ch,   sh,   th,   ng

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

The children practise blending and segmenting a wider set of words, for example- fizz, chip, sheep, light, rain, mixer, for, night, thin, pure, hear, hair, barn, fur, cow, boil, goat, moon, book, sing.  


Phase 4

This is a consolidation unit as there are no new graphemes to learn. Children continue to practise previously learned graphemes and phonemes and learn how to read and write words with consonant clusters:

  • CVCC words: tent, damp, chimp, toast

    For example, in the word ‘toast’, t = consonant,  oa = vowel,  s = consonant,  t = consonant.

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

    For example, in the word ‘spoon’, s = consonant, p = consonant, oo = vowel, n = consonant.

  • And CCCVC words: street, spring, strap

    For example, in the word ‘strap’, s= consonant, t= consonant, r = consonant, a = vowel, p = consonant.


    Phase 5

    In this phase children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know.

  • ay as in day,  ou as in loud,  ie as in tie,  ea as in bead,  oy as in toy,  ir as in girl,  ue as in clue,  aw as in paw,  wh as in what, ph as in elephant,  ew as in blew,  oe as in goes,  au as in author,  a-e as in make,  e-e as in even,  i-e as in like,  o-e as in bone,  u-e as in cube.

    Also they learn different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know:

  • i as in mind,  o as in gold,  c as in cycle,  g as in gent,  u as in unit,  ow as in grow,  ie as in field,  ea as in head,  er as in herb,  a as in acorn and was,  y as in by, gym and very,  ch as in chemist and chef, ou as in you, could, ey as in they


    Phase 6

    In phase 6 the emphasis is on spelling. The children apply phonic skills and knowledge to recognise and spell an increasing number of complex words.

    The children are introduced to the past tense for example writing blow to blew, sing to sang.

    They will learn spelling patterns for example:

    kn- as in know

    mb – as in lamb

    wr – as in wrinkle

    gh- as in taught

    ough – as in tough

    Children are taught to investigate and learn how to add suffixes to words. For example – ed as in cooled, ing as in shopping, est as in longest, er as in robber, ful as in handful, ly as in cowardly, able as in drinkable, ible as in visible.

    The children are taught to write plurals – adding s as in pens, es as in brushes, ies as in jellies. They will also build a collection of plurals that do not end in ‘s’ for example mouse to mice, child to children.


    Also the children are taught how to spell homophones (words that sound alike) for example read/reed, boy/buoy, hear/here, no/know, new/knew, right/write.

    By the end of Reception we aim for all children to be working at phase 4.


    By the end of Year 1 we aim for all children to be working at phase 5.


    By the end of Year 2 we aim for all children to be working at phase 6.


    Helpful Tips

  • Use magnetic letters on your fridge to build words and identify sounds.
  • When reading books encourage children to break down words into phonetic sounds.
  • Encourage children to write cards, invitations, thank you letters, shopping list, stories and help them to spell out words phonetically.
  • Play games like eye spy, junior scrabble, boggle and hangman to reinforce their understanding of words and sounds.
  • Encourage children to read signs and labels on everyday household items or when out and about.
  • Try rainbow words – choose a word and your child writes it in a colour. Then they go over the word in a different colour. Repeat using all the colours of the rainbow. Children can change the size and shape of letters too.
  • You or your child can create word searches to help with reading and spelling.


Suggested online phonic game websites

YouTube clips – Alphablocks, Jolly phonic songs, Mr Thorne does phonics


Free Online books

Bug club online books – phonic books

Oxford owl