At Mercenfeld Primary School we follow the Letters and Sounds programme. It is a synthetic method of teaching phonics which has a six-phase teaching programme, focussing on high quality phonic work.

Letters and Sounds


In Foundation Stage, children are introduced to phonemes (sounds) linked to the letters of the alphabet. Children are taught to blend or sound out phonics to read a variety of words and segment or break down the sounds in simple words for spelling (s-i-t = sit).

Year 1

In Year 1, children learn more about the variety of ways in which each phoneme can be spelled and they also learn about the different pronunciations made by different letters or groups of letters, such as ‘a’ in ‘ant’ and ‘was’.

Year 2

From Year 2 onwards, children consolidate their phonics knowledge, learning when to apply different spelling rules as well as how to spell plurals and different verb tenses.

Here is a PowerPoint that was shown at the Phonics Parent’s Information evening earlier this year.

Phonics Vocabulary

Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme – A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.

GPC – This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Blending– This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word.

Segmenting – This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes (sound talk/sounding out) that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order.

Phonics at home

1) Hear your child read every night and sign their reading record.

4) Use games and resources from: Letters and Sounds

2) When reading a book, play ‘Sound Detectives’ hunting for phonemes. ‘Can you hunt for the ee sound?’

3) Share books from Oxford Reading Tree ebooks for free: Oxford Owl ebooks

6) Play games on: Phonics Play

7) Practice reading alien words and real words using the Phonics Sounds information booklet, the Mr Thorne videos below and using the following sites: