At St Clement’s, Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds, as well as building letter and word recognition. This can then enable children to use unknown words in the future. Children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read the words. At St. Clement’s, we value reading as a key life skill, and we are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers.

At St Clements we start teaching phonics during Nursery using the Unlocking letters and sounds scheme, plus a range of phonetically decodable books. We also use the Lancashire fast-track phonics scheme to support pupils with EAL. 

We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.

We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.

Actions, Images and Handwriting – Phase 2

In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.

In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.

For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression:

Overview Progression

To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact.

At St Clement’s, we promote a ‘phonics first’ approach and in both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child’s current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading.


Year 1 Phonics Screening Test:

Every Year 1 child across the country has to take a phonics screening test with their teacher. Here is a YouTube link that you could do at home with your child. See if they can say the nonsense (alien) words in readiness for their phonics check in June.  We encourage our pupils to sound out the sounds first then blend them back together.

Here are a list of digraphs and trigraphs our pupils will need to know by the end of year 1 and all of these will be included in the Year One Phonics Screening Check: