Phonics and Reading at Ursula Taylor C of E School
At Ursula Taylor we follow the DfE 'Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics' which separates the phonics the children need to acquire into six Phases.
A copy of the Letters and Sounds Publication is available to download on this page, this contains more detailed information, (NB the letter formation guide in the Appendices, is not representative of the cursive style used at Ursula Taylor)
Phase 1 is largely linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile and the Communication, Language and Learning area of learning. 
The areas covered by Phase 1 include:
*General Sound Discrimination - environmental sounds * General Sound Discrimination - Instrumental sounds * General Sound Discrimination - Body Percussion* Rhythm and rhyme * Alliteration * Voice Sounds *Oral Blending and segmenting
Phase 2 is started when children have experienced a wide variety of listening activities, including songs, stories and rhymes. This phase teaches 19 letters and moves children on from oral blending and segmenting to blending and segmenting with letters. Children will also be taught to read VC (Vowel/consonant words e.g. it) and CVC (Consonant, vowel, consonant words e.g. cat)
Children are also introduced to 2 syllable words and captions. This phase also includes a selection of 'tricky' words which are also called high frequency words and are not phonetically readable, meaning that children need to learn them off by heart. 
Letter Progression in Phase 2:
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
Phase 3
The purpose of this phase is to teach another 25 graphemes (written representations of a sound), most of them comprising of two letters e.g. oa. Children will also continue to practise CVC blending and segmentation, extend their learning by spelling two and multi-syllable words. Children will also learn the letter names during this phase and also an increased range of tricky words, (Including the First 100 High Frequency words) and moving to the next 200 when ready -  both in sight reading and also spelling. 
The Phase begins with:
Set 6: j, v, w, x     Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
and is followed by:


Sample words


Sample Words










thin / then
























boot / look



 Phase 4
when children enter Phase 4 they should be able to represent each of the 42 phonemes by a grapheme and be able to blend phonemes to read CVC words and segment CVC words for spelling. This phase is one of consolidation and focuses on words which contain adjacent consonants and practising blending for reading and segmenting for spelling. 
This is a short phase which does not introduce new sounds - at Ursula Taylor, we teach Phase four alongside Phase 5 to ensure progression and challenge. 
Phase 5
 The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know. Children become quicker at recognising graphemes  of more than one letter in words and at blending the phonemes they represent. 
The aim of Phase 5 is to make automatic the reading of all words - decodable and tricky. 
New Graphemes for Reading:



ay (day)

ph (photo)

ou (out)

ew (new)

it (tie)

oe (toe)

ea (eat)

au (Paul)

oy (boy)

a-e (make)

ir (girl)

e-e (these)

ue (blue)

i-e (like)

as (saw)

o-e (home)

wh (when)

u-e (rule)

Alternative pronunciation of graphemes:



i (fin, find)

a (hat, what)

o (hot, cold)

y (yes, by, very)

c (cat, cent)

ch (chin, school, chef)

g (got, giant)

ou (out, shoulder, could, you)

u (but, put, south)


ow (cow, blow)


ie (tie, field)


ea (eat, bread)


er (farmer, her)


Children working at Phase 5 will also work on reading and spelling two-syllable and three-syllable words. The emphasis on spelling increases in Phase 5 in readiness for Phase 6 and increased standards / expectations in Year 2 when children are expected to be able to spell 'many' of the Common Exception words.
Phase 6
At this stage children will be reading much longer pieces and decoding at a much faster speed. Children will be reading automatically and using phonics more independently to decode. Children's spelling should be phonemically accurate although will still be unconventional at times. 
The aim for Phase 6 is that children will become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers. 
At Ursula Taylor, we teach Phase 6 to our able Year 1 children and then into Year 2 where the Phase 6 content combines with the National Curriculum guidelines for 'Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation' (SPaG)
Phase 6 includes:
  • Past tense
  • Investigating and learning to add suffixes (-ed, -ing, -er, -est, -ful, -ly and -y, -s, -es, -en, -ment, -ness)
  • Teaching spelling of long words
  • Finding and learning the difficult bits in words
  • Learning and practising spellings - memory strategies
  • Applying spelling in writing
  • Knowledge of the spelling system
Our Reading Scheme
The reading scheme we have at UTS begins in Foundation Stage with children being provided with books which link directly to the phase of Phonics that they are learning about. Children work through the phases in a particular order, gradually learning new sounds in a sequence of lessons. These sounds link to the children's writing, with children being taught to write cursively as they learnt the sounds. 
This is a very successful strategy which we complement by giving children books aimed at the phase they are working on. The books gradually increase in difficulty as the children increase their knowledge of phonics. Once children are reading fluently and are confidently using many of the Phase 5 sounds, they move onto the main school reading scheme. The main school scheme is made up of many commercially purchased schemes, with a wide variety of text types, genres and a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. 
Some children will have a main scheme book and also a phonics focused book to ensure they are reading at the level which is appropriate for them. Each child has an individual program to follow and is moved to the next colour band when they are ready. 
We also provide all children with a library book to read alongside the reading scheme book. This is to give children the chance to choose their own books and also to give something for parents to share with children at home. It is very important that children are read to, to develop their knowledge of texts, vocabulary and to access stories and books which would be too hard for them to read to themselves. 
Our reading scheme follows the 'Book Bands' system, which is widely used by Primary Schools to sort texts by their level of difficulty. The order of the colour bands is as follows:
Lilac (non-word), Pink, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Turquoise, Purple, Gold, White, Lime,
Brown, Grey, Dark Blue, Maroon and Black. 
The document below goes in to this in  more detail, explaining which colours are expected for each year group.