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Reading and Phonics

At Newtown the Letters and Sounds programme is used to help teach children to read and spell with phonics.


Phase One (Nursery /Reception)

The aim of this phase is to foster children’s speaking and listening skills as preparation for learning to read with phonics. Parents can play a vital role in helping their children develop these skills, by encouraging their children to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they hear, see and do.


Phase Two to Four (Reception / Year One)

Phase Two is when systematic, high quality phonic work begins.  During Phase Two to Four, children learn:-

  • How to represent each of the 42 sounds by a letter or sequence of letters.
  • How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (split) words for spelling. Letter names e.g. through an alphabet song.  There is some debate as to when letter names should be introduced, but it is generally best to leave teaching letter names until children are secure with the alphabet letter sounds, as these are what are important when learning to read with phonics.
  • How to read and spell some high frequency ‘tricky’ words containing sounds not yet learnt (e.g. they, my, her, you).


The Letters and Sounds Programme suggests an order for teaching the letters, and a fast pace of one set per week.  It recognises, however, that children’s personal experience of letters varies enormously.  Most importantly, it progresses from the simple to the more complex aspects of phonics at a pace that is suitable for the children who are learning.


Phase Five (Year 1 / Year 2)

Children learn new ways of representing the sounds and practise blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.


Phase Six (Year 2)

During this phase, children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.


Learning Letter Sounds

Spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes).  These phonemes are represented by letters (graphemes). 


The alphabet contains only 26 letters, but we use it to make all the graphemes that represent the phonemes of English.  In other words, a sound can be represented by a letter (e.g. ‘s’) or a group of letters (e.g. ‘th’ or ‘igh’).


Once children begin learning letters, they are used as quickly as possible in reading and spelling words.  Children can then see the purpose of learning letters.  For this reason, the first six letters taught are  ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘p’, ‘i’, ‘n’.  These can immediately be used to make a number of words such as ‘sat’, ‘pin’, ‘pat’, ‘tap’, ‘nap’.


As a parent, your involvement in supporting your child’s learning will be a vital factor in determining their success in learning to read.