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Spelling and Phonics

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Which phonics programme is used at St. Lawrence?


Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource  published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007.   It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.  It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by the age of seven. 

For further information or to access free resources and games to help your child at home, visit www.letters-and-sounds.com


Each week, Phases 2 - 6 concentrate on a particular sound (phoneme) or written spelling pattern (grapheme).  Your child is encouraged to use these technical terms to talk about their learning in phonics and spelling.  Tricky words are words that do not follow a pattern and are learned discreetly; these words are shown in bold print within brackets alongside the spelling pattern for that week.  

Children will therefore NOT be given a list of words when in phases 2-6, other than the tricky words that do not follow a spelling rule.  Children will be taught the spelling rule and how to apply it during the daily 15 minute lessons. At home, parents can help their child to generate lists of words that follow the rule (eg.  spelling rule 'ea'; generated words could be : heap, cheap, treasure, flea etc).  The spelling area of the website is updated half termly  so that parents are fully informed about which rule their child is working on.  At the start of each half term, letters are also sent out to inform you about which phase your child is working in.

Children are given two books for spelling; an exercise book for them to use in class and at home and a spelling test book.  Spelling lessons take place Monday to Thursday and test days are Fridays.

Why don't we send out lists for all phases as is traditional when learning spellings?

Research has shown that children fall into three groups when learning spelling lists:

1)     Children who learn their spellings each week, get them right but do not apply them   independently in their writing because the spellings have only been retained in their short-term memory.

2)      Children who try hard to learn the list but rarely get the spellings right because they have poor memory skills and have no other strategy to fall back on if they have not been taught the spelling rule (ie. they cannot 'work it out').

3)      Children who are brilliant spellers; they don't need to learn the words anyway and consistently get full marks in their spelling test.  These children have usually worked out the rules for themselves!

At St. Lawrence's, we have found that the children's spelling has improved tremendously over the last few years as a result of teaching spelling in this way.  By the time our children reach the upper juniors, they are confident spellers who are able to work out how to spell unfamiliar words for themselves.  This has had a significant impact on the standards of reading and writing.  Occasionally, children struggle to spell even with this structured approach.  These children may often also struggle with reading, writing and sometimes speech.  In these cases,  additional support is given in class through a targeted, interactive approach and possibly also further small group or 1:1 work. 

We begin the Letters and Sounds spelling programme at Phase 2 in school with Phase 1 being covered within our nursery setting. 

Phase 2

This phase begins with children being introduced to individual letters and their sounds; sets of letters are taught each week in the sequence advised by the Letters and Sounds programme. As soon as  each set of letters is introduced, children are encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words (eg. s-a-t ).  They will also learn to segment the words (eg. upon hearing the word tap, the child can work out which letter sounds make up the word).  Children focus on CVC words (consonant - vowel - consonant). 

Phases 3 and 4

Over the course of phase 3, 25 new graphemes (letter patterns) are introduced.  Children also learn the letter names and will continue to decode words using sounds.  Children are also introduced to tricky words - words that are common that do not follow a spelling pattern.  These words are always in bold on the schedule below and the children should learn how to spell these words in preparation for their spelling test on a Friday morning. 

In this phase, children also concentrate on adjacent clusters of letters using consonants (eg. pl-, st- or -ng, -nt).  We refer to the consonant as C and the vowel as V and children look to combine these in  both the reading and spelling of such words.  Words like tramp show a CCVCC spelling pattern; snow shows a CCVC pattern and bent uses a CVCC pattern.  Compound words are also introduced in this phase; these are two single words when put together make a new word eg. snowball, desktop. 

Phase 5

Phase 5 has been split into two parts (i and ii) as this phase covers a lot of learning and shows the children alternative ways to spell the sounds they have previously learned.  For example, children have been taught to spell the ay sound previously, but in this phase, will learn that the same sound can combine the graphemes (letters) ai, a_e (we refer to this is a split digraph), a etc.  All the alternative vowel sounds are covered in Phase 5i.  When children are secure with these patterns, they will move to Phase 5ii where they learn other alternative spellings such as -/dge/ making a j sound.  


New Fast Track Phase

Fast Track Phonics follows a programme that has been devised by the Lancashire Literacy Team. This new phase is aimed at closing the gap with regards to reading and spelling. Most pupils who follow the daily phonics process will reach the expected level of understanding by the end of KS1. However, for those pupils who require further practise, in order to acquire these skills, a phonics catch up programme may be required. The Fast track programme is designed to address gaps in learning. The activities within the new phase are short, snappy and fun with an emphasis on quickly reviewing previous sound patterns from all the other phases.

Fast Track Phase

Autumn First Half Term

Week 1

Phase 3 sounds: j,v,w,x,y,z,zz, qu,ch,sh,th, ng;cvc, cvcc, ccvc and ccvcc words

Week 2

cccvc and cccvcc words; ai, ee blends eg drain, sleep

Week 3

igh, ar, oa, oo blends eg slight, alarm, toast, moon

Week 4

ow,or,er,oi blends eg growl, torch, after, spoil

Week 5

ur, air blends eg church, hair; ee,e,ea,y,ey,ie graphemes eg beef, me, leaf, happy, money, thief

     Week 6/ai/ay/a-e/eigh/ey/igh/ie/ eg snail, stray, gale, weight,obey, light, tie
     Week 7Assessments

Autumn Second Half Term



Spelling and Grammar across KS2

All children from Years 2 to 6 will continue to focus upon their spelling and grammar learning at Barton St Lawrence. Fifteen minute 'warm-up' sessions will take place daily in each respective class. The children will take part in either a dedicated grammar or spelling session prior to their Literacy lesson. Sessions will be fast-paced, active and fun with each year group continuing to follow the 2014 curriculum. From Year 2 to Year 6, we use the spelling scheme 'No Nonsense Spelling'.
Children will learn grammatical rules, but more importantly, they will learn how to apply these rules within their everyday written work. In spelling, they will take upon an investigative approach ensuring that spelling is related ,once again, to their own writing.