Get in touch

Contact Details

Social Media

The Whiteoak Academies of
Hannah More Infants and Grove Juniors.
Planting dreams. Nurturing hearts. Growing minds.
Home Page The Whiteoak Academies of
Hannah More Infants and Grove Juniors.
Planting dreams. Nurturing hearts. Growing minds.

Learning to Decode

A strong start in phonics


At the Whiteoak Academies, phonics is taught using the DfES Letters and Sounds programme.

Discrete, daily lessons lasting 20-25 minutes begin at the start of Reception. To ensure that all members of staff who deliver the sessions teach confidently and with fidelity to the programme, we regularly access accredited Letters and Sounds training. This training also facilitates a high level of consistency in the delivery of phonics teaching, both within and across year groups.

In Reception, children begin Phase One upon entry to school. This phase focuses on general sound discrimination (of environmental and instrumental sounds and body percussion), rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and oral segmenting and blending. The overarching aim of this on-going phase is for children to experience regular, planned opportunities to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they see, hear and can do.


Phase Two is taught from week 3 in Reception (as Phase One continues alongside). The purpose of this phase is to teach at least 19 letters, and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters.

By the end of this phase children should be able to read some VC (vowel-consonant) and CVC words and be able to spell these on paper or with tactile resources. During this phase, children will learn to read two-syllable words and simple captions as well as some high frequency and common exception words such as: the, to, no and go.


Four new phonemes are taught each week, with one day being regularly assigned to retrieval of the previous week's learning.


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


At the Whiteoak Academies, Phase Three is taught in Reception from the third week of term 2. The purpose of this phase is to teach another 25 graphemes, most of them comprising of digraphs (two letters making one sound) and trigraphs (3 letters making one sound).


Set 6:   j   v   w   x

Set 7:   y     z, zz    qu


Graphemes                 Sample words

ch                                chip                                                                                                                        sh                                shop                                                        

th                                 thin/then                                                                                                          ng                                ring                                                                                                                       

ai                                 rain                                                                                                                   ee                                feet                                                                                                                       

igh                               night                                                                                                                     

oa                                boat                                                                                                                   oo                                boot/look                                                                                                               

ar                                 farm                                                                                                                   

or                                 for                                                                                                                      

ur                                 hurt                                                                                                                  

ow                                cow

oin                                coin

ear                                dear

air                                 fair

ure                                sure

er                                  corner


By the end of this phase, the aim is that our children can represent each of about 42 phonemes by a grapheme. Children will also learn letter names during this phase and to read some further common exception words.


Phase Four teaching commences in Term 5 in Reception (while the mastery of Phase Three continues). Phase Four comprises of a consolidation of children's grapheme knowledge with new exposure to CVCC and CCVC words containing adjacent consonants.  There is also a focus on polysyllabic words. Our children continue to master this phase at the beginning of Year 1.  



Our children begin their Phase Five learning in Year 1. The purpose of this phase is for them to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling.  Children will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations. In this phase, they will also be introduced to the alternative spellings for phonemes. For example /ai/ has the alternative spellings: ay, a_e, eigh, ey and ei. Practise in the reading and spelling of a further bank of common exception and high frequency words also continues through Phase Five.


By the beginning of Phase Six (at the start of Year 2), our children should know most of the common grapheme-phoneme correspondences. They should by this point be able to read hundreds of words, doing so in three ways:


  • Reading the words automatically if they are very familiar
  • Decoding them quickly and silently (as their sounding and blending routine is well established)
  • Decoding the words aloud


It is during Phase Six that many of our children become fluent readers and they will start to read longer and less familiar texts with independence. The shift from learning to read to reading to learn is taking place.


We recognise that for some less fluent and less confident readers, their recognition of graphemes consisting of two or more letters is often not automatic enough at this point. We understand that the necessity for complete familiarity is essential and put into place interventions to support them with this. These children will also benefit from rereading shorter texts several times in order to experience what fluent reading feels like.


Phase Six also focuses heavily on the teaching of spelling, with a particular focus on: forming the past tense, adding suffixes and the application of spelling in writing.



School Updates

Keep up-to-date with what's happening

Swipe content