Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

There are six overlapping phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance for Practitioners and Teachers. 


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.


If you wish to support your child at home, you can visit the Letters & Sounds website by clicking here.

For pronunciation, watch this 'Sounds of the English Phonic Code'



Once the children begin to learn their phonics they blend the sounds into words. Our early reading books are phonically decodable up to phase 5 of their phonics. The children then move onto other reading schemes such as Oxford Reading Tree and Project X. The children progress through coloured book band levels which cover early stories and poems to more challenging stories and texts.


Writing starts in Reception with mark making which as they learn their phonics develops into recognisable phonetically decodable words and common exception words. Once the children are in year 2 they are expected to know and be using all the common exception words and are taught more formal spelling rules. Spelling continues to develop throughout Key Stage Two through our No-Nonsense spelling scheme. Children’s writing covers all genres from poetry and stories to non-fiction, news reports, letters etc. We use Lancashire cross curricular plans as the basis of all the work we do in English.