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Phonics Support for Parents

Bug Club Phonics is the 'Systematic Synthetic Phonics' scheme that we follow at St Paul's C of E Primary School. 

What is Phonics?



blend: Saying the individual sounds that make up a word and then merging or blending the sounds together to say the word – used when reading.

consonant: Most letters of the alphabet (excluding the vowels: a,e,i,o,u).

CVC words: Abbreviation used for consonant-vowel-consonant words, used to describe the order of sounds. Some examples of CVC words are: cat, pen, top
Other similar abbreviations include:
-VC words e.g. on, is, it.
-CCVC words e.g. trip and flat.
-CVCC words e.g. milk and fast.

digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. ee, oa, ea, ch, ay.
There are several different types of digraph:
- Vowel digraph: a digraph in which at least one of the letters is avowel, for example; boat or day.
- Consonant digraph: two consonants which can go together, forexample, shop or thin.
- Split digraph (previously called magic e): two letters, which workas a pair to make one sound, but are separated within the word,such as a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e. For example, cake or line.

grapheme: Written letters or a group of letters which represent one single sound (phoneme), e.g. a, l, sh, air, ck.

phoneme: A single sound that can be made by one or more letters (graphemes), e.g. s, k, z, oo, ph, igh.

pure sound: Pronouncing each letter sound clearly and distinctly without adding additional sounds to the end, e.g. ‘ffff’ not ‘fuh.

segment: This is the opposite of blending (see above). Splitting a word up into individual sounds – used when spelling and writing.

tricky words: Words that are difficult to sound out, e.g. said, the, because.

trigraph: Three letters which go together make one sound, e.g. ear, air, igh, dge, tch.

vowel: The letters a, e, i, o, u.  

Phonics Sound Mats and Supporting Videos

The sound mats show the grapheme (written form) for each sound and the image that is linked to this sound when it is being taught in the classroom. The videos below demonstrate how the sound is pronounced and the associated action that is used to support understanding and application. 

Phase 2


Phase 2 Sound Mat

Phase 3


Phase 3 Sound Mat

Phase 5


 Phase 5 Sound Mat

Common Exception (Tricky) Words Lists

Reception - Common Exception (Tricky) Words

Year 1 - Common Exception (Tricky) Words

Year 2 - Common Exception (Tricky) Words

Online Resources to Support Your Child at Home with Phonics

Tricky Words Songs

Phase 2/3 Tricky Words Song Phase 3 Tricky Words Song

Phase 4 Tricky Words Song

Phonics Play Games

Buried TreasureDragon's DenPicnic on Pluto

Phonics Teaching Overview

Phonics Teaching Overview


Children will work through Phases 1 – 4 in their Reception year and will have an introduction to Phase 5 sounds.

Year 1

Children will consolidate their knowledge of Phase 2 and 3 sounds and will spend more of their year focusing on Phases 4, 5 and 6.

Year 2

Children will consolidate their knowledge of all phases. Those who did not meet the expected standard at the end of Year 1 will be given additional small group intervention to identify and target any gaps in phonics knowledge.

Phonics Phases Explained

Phase 1

This is split into 7 aspects which focus on hearing and talking about environmental sounds and letter sounds.

Phase 2

In Phase 2, children begin to learn the sounds that letters make (phonemes). Children focus on learning the 19 most common single letter sounds (see Phase 2 sound mat example below).

By the end of Phase 2 children should be able to:

  • Read some vowel-consonant (VC) and consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words;
  • Spell out some vowel-consonant (VC) and consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words;
  • Begin to recognise some high frequency ‘tricky words’ like ‘the’ and ‘go.’

Phase 3

Phase 3 introduces children to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes, mainly made up of two letters such as /ch/, /ar/, /ow/ and /ee/.

Alongside this, children are taught to recognise more tricky words, including ‘me,’ ‘was,’ ‘my,’ ‘you’ and ‘they’. They learn the names of the letters, as well as the sounds they make. Activities might include learning mnemonics (memory aids) for tricky words, practising writing letters on mini whiteboards, using word cards and singing songs like the Alphabet Song.

By the end of Phase 3, children should be able to:

  • Say the sound made by most, or all, Phase 2 and 3 graphemes;
  • Blend and read CVC words made from these graphemes;
  • Read new tricky words and write letters correctly when given an example to copy.

Phase 4

In Phase 4, children will, among other things:

  • Practise reading and spelling CVCC words (‘bump', 'nest', ‘belt,’ ‘milk’, etc)
  • Practise reading and spelling high frequency words
  • Practise reading and writing sentences
  • Learn more tricky words, including ‘have,’ ‘like,’ ‘some,’ ‘little’

By the end of Phase 4 children should be:

  • Blending confidently to work out new words;
  • Starting to read some words by sight, rather than having to sound them out.

Phase 5

In Phase 5, 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.

Phase 6

Phase 6 phonics takes place in the summer term of Year 1, with the aim of children becoming 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.

Children should now be spelling most words accurately (this is known as 'encoding'), although this usually lags behind reading.

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 1, children continue to use their knowledge as they move up the school.