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Powell's School Church of England (VA) Primary School


Powell’s Phonic Intent


At Powell’s we follow the Letters and Sounds principles and practice of high quality phonics (Primary National Strategy 2007). Phonics is taught daily as a discrete lesson for at 20-25 minutes in both Early Years and Key Stage 1. Children start their phonics lessons right from the very beginning of school.

Progression of Phonics Skills 







Each discrete phonics lesson follows the set structure;

  1. Revisit and Review - children begin each session by reviewing their past learning and the sounds they already know.
  2. Teach - introducing the new content.
  3. Practise - time is then spent practising their blending and segmenting skills.
  4. Apply - looking at how this phonic knowledge can be applied to enable us to blend (read) and segment (spell/write).

The six-phases of the Letters and Sounds document provides a structure for teachers from which teachers plan for children’s progression. The boundaries between the phases are not fixed, allowing teachers to plan across the phases depending on the individual class needs. Teachers’ assessment of individual children will inform the rate at which their children are able to progress through the phases. Additional guidance for teachers delivering the phonics curriculum is on the Powell’s Phonics Teaching Timeline. This document shows the order that the phonics knowledge is taught in and also gives guidance on the year groups and terms this knowledge should be delivered; this is vital to ensure the children are on track for meeting the end of year age expectation in phonics.


Early Years (Reception)

The children begin their phonics journey right from the beginning of starting school.

  • In the autumn term, Early Years (Reception children) are introduced to the sounds in Phase 2 and Phase 3. Time is then spent in the spring term reviewing this knowledge and learning how to apply it to read and write words independently. Phase 4 will be delivered in the summer term.
  • The children in Early Years have discrete phonics teaching input daily by teachers and support staff. The formal sessions last for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Phase 1 is also taught alongside Phases 2 – 6 as although it is introduced in Pre School, the concepts of rhythm, rhyme, blending and segmenting covered in Phase 1 are important skills needed for both reading and spelling.
  • As soon as the children have learnt the first set of sounds they then have enough phonic knowledge to start to blend short words such as it, in, sat, tan. The children are then given a word box which holds words containing the sounds they know. The children then take their word boxes home to practice their blending skills and the words are changed regularly. These word boxes follow the same progression of sounds set out in Letters and Sounds.
  • Even before they are able to read children take home word less books (lilac level); this sets the president and expectation of how important daily reading at home is. When the children are able to read individual words, they then move on to reading short sentences and are ready to take home a book with text. The books at Powell’s are aligned to Letters and Sounds (see table below). The early levels (Pink and Red) have been fine graded to match the progression of the sets of sounds and the order they are taught. Pink 1/2 features words containing the sounds in sets 1 and 2, Pink 3 contains the sounds in sets 1,2 and 3 and so on. This fine grading allows the children to access the books earlier on and really support the children’s phonics and reading progress. It also helps to ensure that children are taking home books containing the sounds they know – therefore practicing the skills needed and ensuring the child is able to read their own book, making it an enjoyable experience which helps to establish that all important love of learning at an early stage.
  • Guided reading starts at the beginning of Early Years; here children read the same text in a group with a member of staff. In these sessions, they learn the basics of reading a book such as reading from front to back, turning pages in the correct direction as well as applying their phonic skills and reading non-decodable sight words having the support from the staff member to decode what the book says. The group are then able to discuss the book, talking about what they have read, what they think will happen next, the pictures in the book etc. This discussion will develop the children’s comprehension skills and will help them to understand the value and purpose of books. During these guided reading sessions the children read books a level above the ones they take home, this allows staff to be able to see who is ready to move on to the next level with their home books.
  • Additional small group/individual phonics intervention takes place to fill any gaps in the children’s knowledge identified by assessments.
  • Word boxes and Book Band levels are all based on the individual child’s knowledge and progress, therefore different children will have different word box and reading book levels dependent on their individual ability.
  • Children progress on their writing journey in Early Years and use their phonic skills to segment words to spell. Writing happens at different points throughout the day, as part of the daily discrete phonics lesson, during the children’s play in continuous provision, as part of other lessons etc. All of these tasks show the children the purpose of writing and how they can use their phonic skills to communicate meaning through print.

Presentation - Reading and Phonics in Early Years


Year 1

The Year 1 phonics curriculum is focused on delivering the Phase 5 knowledge, whilst at the same time as revising phases 2-4. At the end of Year 1 the children will carry out the DfE Phonics Screening Check.

  • All of the systems in place in Early Years, daily discrete phonics sessions, guided reading, bands books, continue in Year 1 ensuring the children are given the opportunity to apply their increasing phonic knowledge.
  • Additional small group/individual intervention takes place to fill any gaps in the children’s knowledge identified by assessments.
  • Discrete phonics lessons continue in addition to reading and English lessons. All of which ensure children are given the opportunity to review previous phonics knowledge and to apply it for both reading and spelling/writing.
  • Children now also being to take home key words to learn how to read and spell – again these follow the progression set out in Letters and Sounds. These include the Dfe Year 1 common exception word list.
  • Once children have completed the Book Band colour levels up to Turquoise they will have become competent at using their knowledge of Phases 2-5 to decode; following this they then move on to Accelerated Reader in order to develop their comprehension skills further.

Year 2

It is important that the five phases of Letters and Sounds are embedded and the children have a solid understanding of the key knowledge and skills before the final sixth phase is introduced in Year 2. Phase 6 mainly focuses on common spelling rules and patterns.

  • Discrete phonics lessons continue for all children. At the beginning of the Autumn term in Year 2 phonics will focus on revision of phase 5 content; following this they will then move on to the spelling rules in phase 6 whilst at the same time reviewing phase 5 alongside. Any children also requiring additional help with their phonics will also be given support through additional small group intervention sessions.
  • Any child who was still working toward the expected level in the DfE Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 will retake the check again at the end of Year 2.
  • In Year 2, reading groups continue, in these groups children will focus on their comprehension and fluency skills, although those who require it will still have a phonic focus with appropriately selected texts.
  • The spelling work continues with a phonics based approach whilst introducing the spelling rules needed and common exception/high frequency words.
  • Children will of course be given lots of writing opportunities in English lessons and across the curriculum where they can apply all of the phonic knowledge they have built up since Early Years.


  • All KS2 have daily spelling lessons which follows a phonics based approach and extend the children’s knowledge with the complex phonics code, as well as learning common exception/high frequency words.
  • For any children who still need phonics support beyond Year 2 there are a range of strategies and resources we use. Phonics lessons will continue and support resources such as Nessy, No Nonsense Phonics are also be used. Dependent on the individual phonic needs, additional sessions are put in place for the identified children, usually in small groups.
  • For any KS2 children who still need to access phonic reading books we have sets of phonic books that contain content more suitable and enjoyable for the older children in Key Stage 2.


Classroom Learning Environment for Phonics

Each classroom in Early Years and Key Stage 1 has a Phonics Working Wall. Here the sounds that the children are currently working on are displayed with words and sentences containing those sounds. The wall also displays the sounds that the children have already covered to help keep this knowledge prominent in their minds and so the children can clearly see how these sounds are written.

The children’s phonic knowledge is assessed regularly and the phonic lessons are planned in response to this. Any children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge are quickly identified and given support in the form of additional phonics sessions often as part of a small group.

All phonics sessions, both whole class and small group, are delivered in a fun and engaging way. A wide range of resources and strategies are used to ensure the children are interactive. Here are a few examples of some core strategies and resources we use:


Clear Pronunciation –pure sounds only


Phoneme Frame – put each sound in a box


Sound Buttons – mark each sound with a dot or dash


Phoneme Fingers – count the sounds


Sound Fans – ‘use your fan to show me…’



Through the teaching of phonics we aim for children to quickly learn the phonic skills needed to be able to become ‘readers’. Phonics is the start of their journey to becoming fluent and engage readers who have fostered a life-long love of reading. By using a phonics based approach to reading our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1; so then they are able to go on to developing the other skills needed for reading including comprehension. We firmly believe that by being able to read children will then have that vitally important key to their learning, therefore opening up the magical world of books and the access to a wide and rich curriculum.

Table showing the alignment of reading resources to Letters and Sounds:

          Letters and Sounds Phase

Tricky Words

Book Band

Word Boxes

Phase 1




(no words)



Phase 2

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, ss








Sets 1 - 5

1 - 32

Phase 3

Set 6: j, v, w, x

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Set 8: ch, sh, th, ng

Set 9: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo

Set 10: ar, or, ur, ow, oi

Set 11: ear, air, ure, er

he       me

we      be

she     was

you    they

all      are

my     her


Sets 6 - 11

33 - 82


Consolidation of Phases 2 & 3

Phase 4

Adjacent consonants, e.g. tr - trap, str - string and lk - milk

some    come

said       so

do         like

have     were

one       out

there    little

when    what


83 - 122



Phase 5

Complex code - alternative pronunciations for graphemes.

Year 1 Common exception words


123 - 160



Phase 6

Basic spelling rules. Suffixes introduced (s, es, ing, ed, er, est, y, en, ful, ly, ment, ness, en), plus basic grammar strategies.

Year 2 Common exception words

Accelerated Reader