Colley Lane Primary Academy, Colley Lane, Halesowen, B63 2TN
Part of Windsor Academy Trust
reading and phonics at colley lane primary academy

Reading and Phonics


At Colley Lane we:

Learn to read and read to learn.


Learn how to use a variety of reading skills.


Want children to become fluent readers with a love for books.


Read to Succeed!

We want to teach children not only how to read but for children to develop a love of reading which will stay with them far beyond their school years. Reading is taught through a number of approaches: whole class, guided, 1:1, shared, paired, comprehension and domain activities. Whichever approach is used, all reading lessons are centred upon the reading domains.

You can find out more about our approach to reading on our English subject page.

Find out more


Our approach to phonics

At Colley Lane, we use Letters and Sounds to support the teaching of phonics. The children in reception, years 1 and 2 have a 20-minute session every day. The Letters and Sounds programme is separated into six Phases - your child's teacher will be able to tell you which Phase your child is currently working on. If you require any other information please see the phonics coordinator Mrs Horton.

For each phase, we have included a brief explanation and some resources that you can use at home with your child.

Useful links

Phase 1

Phase One of Letters and Sounds concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects. Each aspect contains three strands:

  • Tuning in to sounds (auditory discrimination)
  • Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing)
  • Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension)

Find out more information here:

Phase 2

In Phase 2 children are taught 19 letters grouped into 5 sets. The initial focus is on reading; blending separate sounds into words.

  • 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 encouraged to begin 'blending' sounds into words straight away. Therefore, having been taught only Set 1, children can make (and read) words like at, sat & pat.

They will also start learning to segment words. For example, they might be asked to find the letter sounds that make the word tap from a small selection of magnetic letters. By the end of the phase, many children should be able to read VC and CVC words. In time, children will be shown the correct spelling. During the phase, they will be introduced to reading two-syllable words and captions.

They will also learn some high-frequency ‘tricky’ words (which can't yet be decoded). You will notice that 'double consonants' (ff/ss/ll) are taught early. This illustrates to children that sometimes more than one letter can represent a single sound. In the case of these letters, it is the same sound as the single letter represents.

In Phase 3 children are taught that this is not always the case. The grapheme 'ck' is taught in Phase 2 as it features in many of the early words that children learn e.g. back, neck and sack.

Find out more information here.

Phase 3

Another 25 graphemes (sounds) are taught, most of them comprise of 2 letters but also the final two sets of letters are taught first. Graphemes are where more than one letter represents one sound e.g. the grapheme 'ai' represents one sound in the word 'rain'.

Children also continue to practise CVC blending and segmenting to reading and spelling simple two-syllable words and captions. They will learn letter names during this phase and learn to read and spell some more high-frequency ‘tricky’ words (which can't yet be decoded).

  • SET 6 - J, V, W, X
  • SET 7 - Y, Z, ZZ, QU

Find out more information here.

Phase 4

No new graphemes are taught. Children explore more polysyllabic words (words containing more than one syllable) and are required to blend an increasing number of sounds together in order to read. They will also learn to read and spell some more high-frequency ‘tricky’ words (which can't yet be decoded).

As children progress through Phase 4 they become more confident and skilled in reading and spelling words with a greater number of letters and graphemes.

Find out more here.

Phase 5

In Phase 5 children are introduced to new graphemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make. Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.

Children become quicker at recognising graphemes of more than one letter in words and at blending the phonemes they represent. They will also learn to read and spell some more high-frequency ‘tricky’ words (which can't yet be decoded).

Click on each grapheme below to download a set of A5 flashcards with words containing this grapheme. Practise reading these with your child.

Find out more information here.

Phase 6

At the start of Phase Six of Letters and Sounds, children will have already learnt the most frequently occurring grapheme–phoneme correspondences (GPCs) in the English language. They will be able to read many familiar words automatically. When they come across unfamiliar words they will be able to decode them quickly and silently using their sounding and blending skills. With more complex unfamiliar words they will often be able to decode them by sounding them out.

At this stage, children should be able to spell words phonemically although not always correctly. Spelling normally lags behind reading as it is harder. In Phase Six the main aim is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.

Find out more information here.

Phonics Glossary

Term Meaning
Adjacent consonants (cvcc, ccvc, cccvc, ccvcc)
Two or more consonants next to each other at the beginning or end of a word or a syllable.
Alternative (additional) graphemes Further common graphemes used to represent familiar phonemes.
Alternative pronunciation Alternative ways of pronouncing graphemes that have already been taught to ensure words “sound right”.
Blend/Blending Squashing phonemes (sounds) together to make larger units such as syllables or words.
Blending hands Rubbing hands together after segmenting a word as a visual prompt for children to blend the sounds (phonemes).
Digraph A two letter grapheme where two letters represent one phoneme or sound e.g. ar, ea, er, oi, ch, th
GPC (Grapheme – Phoneme Correspondence) The match between the grapheme (how it looks) and the phoneme (how it sounds).
Grapheme The letter or sequence of letters that are used to write a phoneme.
Grapheme mat This is a mat of graphemes. It can be graphemes on their own or it can have a picture to support the children with their understanding of the sound.
Long vowel sound The sound that is like the names of the vowel letters. The long vowel sounds are often represented in more than one way by digraphs and trigraphs e.g. main, stay, cake, see, seat, mice, light, coat, bone, glue, spoon.
On the go (fluent) blending Reading words on the go (fluently) without overt sounding.
Over-sound Sounding words prior to blending out of habit rather than as required for accurate decoding.

The smallest unit of sound in a word – often referred to as ‘a sound’. Phonemes may be written with more than one letter. The word start has 4 phonemes - s - t - ar - t.

The word church has 3 phonemes - ch - ur - ch. The word strap has 5 phonemes - s - t - r - a - p.

 Recall Finding or writing the grapheme that represents a particular phoneme.
Recognition Saying the phoneme when shown the grapheme.
Robot arms Bending arms up and down like a robot to provide a multi-sensory prompt for segmenting a word into its separate sounds (phonemes).
Segment/Segmenting Breaking up words or parts of words into the component phonemes (sounds).
Short vowel sound The sound that the letters a, e, i, o, u make in a word e.g. cat, peg, hit, not, sun.
Sound (sound it out) Saying the phonemes that each grapheme represents in order to blend them.
Sound button A dot placed below a single grapheme when it represents a single sound.
Sound bar A small line placed underneath a grapheme where more than one letter is forming a single phoneme. This is normally a digraph or trigraph but there are exceptions (eigh in weight).
A sound line A line drawn joining the two letters of the split digraph, e.g. a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e or u_e.
Sound talk Segmenting words into components sounds (phonemes) in order to teach blending or in the early stages of segmentation.
Split Digraph A two letter grapheme that represent a vowel phoneme or sound where the sounds are pushed apart by another (one) letter, e.g. cake, bite, phone, these, cube. It is used for the long vowel sounds.
Tricky words (may also be referred to as CEW – common exception words in Y1 and Y2) A word that contains GPCs that do not follow the usual pattern or have not yet been taught within the programme.
Trigraph A three letter grapheme where three letters represent one phoneme (sound) e.g. air, igh, ear
Vowel Digraph A two letter grapheme that represents a vowel phoneme or sound e.g. ay, ee, oi
Whole-word segmenting The process of segmenting the whole word before finding or writing the letters rather than taking one letter at a time.