Phonics at Bluecoat

At Bluecoat C of E Primary School emphasis is placed on the focused, consistent and progressive teaching and application of phonics skills. The teaching of phonics is an important aspect of our teaching for reading and spelling. The phonics scheme used is Letters and Sounds.

What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and Sounds is a systematic approach for teaching children to read using phonics. It is used in many schools in England and is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age 7.

In every lesson we should see…

  • Enthusiastic adults who provide inspiration to their pupils as readers and aim to support all children to be aspiring readers and writers

  • Progression of letters and sounds, with time built in for revision

  • Consistent use of vocabulary, including: phoneme, grapheme, sounding out, blending and segmenting. KS1 will also use the addition of digraphs, trigraphs, adjacent consonants (EYFS will use these terms as and when appropriate).

  • Consistent actions for sounding out and blending (sounds on fingers and stroke down arm to blend fingers together)

  • Introduction of appropriate High Frequency Words for age group

  • Planning using the revisit/review, teach, practise, apply

  • Fluent and phrased reading – reading that sounds good at any level

  • Well organised enjoyable lessons with appropriate resources – make it fun!

  • Discussions – children talking about the sounds/words and linking to previous learning/what they already know.

  • Links – being made continually throughout the lessons at all levels and to prior learning in class and prior knowledge of the pupils.

  • Opportunities for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) as a focus or intertwined in relevant places throughout the session

  • Use of technical vocabulary throughout the session by adults and pupils

  • Using reading strategies appropriately – ensuring pupils are combining meaning, syntax and visual cues and are able to articulate what they are doing

  • Metacognition – the awareness of and ability to talk about what you are doing – this applies to all areas of the curriculum including phonics

  • Staff modelling sounding out and blending- both reading aloud so pupils can hear how good reading sounds and how punctuation works and also talking aloud their thought processes

  • Give pupils time to reflect and discuss their own learning from that session; What did you learn today?

  • Time for children to practise their new knowledge with success

Phonics Sessions at Bluecoat C of Primary School:

  • Have a particular focus on blending and segmenting

  • Are purposeful with a clear direction

  • Have a multi-sensory approach

  • Feature lots of success and praise

  • Build up stamina to read words, sentences and paragraphs

  • Practise phonemes blended all through the word

  • Practise phonemes blended from L-R

  • Demonstrates how words can be segmented

  • Allows children to apply phonic knowledge to reading, spelling and to irregular words

  • Include the correct High Frequency Words

  • Uses ‘quick writes’ as a method of practicing fluency of HFW

  • Uses flashcards of sounds and words

  • Uses sound buttons to demonstrate graphemes, digraphs, trigraphs

  • Uses assessments to feed into class interventions

  • Have a clear routine

  • Use the planning format from Devon

  • Have pace and are kept to 20 minutes

  • Practise to use what the children know and to teach what the children don’t know

  • Children to be reading at 1a/2c by the end of Y1

  • Check the knowledge and understanding of a sound, letter, word, sentence

  • Use the term ‘alien word’ for pseudo words and we also say ‘these words don’t make sense’

  • Sound and blend, by sounding phonemes onto fingers and ‘swiping’ them together to blend

  • Use the term ‘adjacent consonants’ for kn/mb etc

  • Use phoneme for the sound

  • Use grapheme for writing down a sound

  • Use digraph for a grapheme with two letters that makes one sound

  • Use trigraph for a grapheme with three letters that makes one sound

  • Use Blending when looking at a written word to work out the phonemes represented by a grapheme and merging the phonemes together to make a word

  • Use segmenting when you hear a work, split it into the phonemes which make it and putting them in the right order


  • Will introduce the correct vocabulary for: phoneme, grapheme, blending and segmenting and consistent use of signs to support this vocabulary including:

  • Use a phone action for a phoneme

  • Use a writing action for a grapheme

  • ‘Stretch’ their words out to break the sounds down (with a stretching action)

  • Partition the ‘apply’ section of the phonics session, so that the phonics session remains 20 minutes and manageable. The application of phonics writing is done later

Other elements we may see include...

  • Sound buttons used

  • Alien words (alongside - these words don’t make sense)

  • Use of flashcards for words and sounds

  • Use of ICT

For further information and guidance on how you can support your child at home with Phonics, please see our Home Learning page.