Executive Head: Dame Naila Zaffar
Rainbow Primary School, Nelson Street, Bradford, BD5 0HD
Phone: 01274 221400
Email: info@rainbowschools.org.uk




Rainbow Primary School is delighted to support you through your child’s reading journey. This page aims to support you at home with your child’s phonics and reading. Our school follows the Letters and Sounds scheme. You can visit http://www.letters-and-sounds.com/what-is-letters-and-sounds-.html to find out more.

We have phonics lessons for 20 minutes at the start of each day. Phonics is then applied through reading and writing lessons so that the children have lots of opportunities to apply their knowledge. Take a look at some important information about phonics below.

What the government requires children to learn in phonics:


Phonics is a method of using sounds that match with letters to teach reading and writing. ‘One phoneme’ means ‘one sound’; ‘two phonemes’ means ‘two sounds’ and so on. Words are made up of different sounds; we teach the children the sounds and they use them to read and write.

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, but is not a mandatory part of the National Curriculum. It is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age 7.

Traditionally, children were taught letter names like ay, bee, sea from the start. However, letter names don’t always represent their pronunciation – examples include double u or em – and this might confuse children when they try to pronounce words made up of these letters.

The phonic approach encourages us to directly link letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes), and to teach children pure sounds like ah, b, k when encountering the alphabet. So, children learn how to put sounds represented by letters or letter groups (like ch or igh) together to read words in a more straightforward way.

Video: How to pronounce pure sounds

Learn how to pronounce all 44 phonics sounds, or phonemes, used in the English language with these helpful examples:

How do children learn to read using Letters and Sounds?

The information below outlines the letter-sound correspondences children will learn in different phases. There are a few “tricky words” introduced at each phase.

These words are common and useful for early reading and writing, but children won’t be able to decode them following the phonic rules taught up to that point. You can help your child learn them by reading aloud together

Phase 1   |   Phase 2   |   Phase 3   |   Phase 4   |   Phase 5   |   Phase 6

Phase 1 Letters and Sounds

Approx age: 3–4 | Nursery/Reception Phase 1 supports children’s developing speaking and listening skills and linking of sounds and letters. Activities are divided into seven groups:

  • Environmental sounds.
  • Instrumental sounds.
  • Body percussion.
  • Rhythm and rhyme.
  • Alliteration.
  • Voice sounds.
  • Oral blending and segmenting.

Children should be encouraged to enjoy books from as early an age as possible. However, the focus of this phase is on listening to and repeating sounds, rather than on directly reading words

Phase 2 Letters and Sounds

Approx age: 4–5 | First term of Reception Phase 2 introduces simple letter-sound correspondences. As each set of letters is introduced, children are encouraged to use their new knowledge to sound out and blend words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s–a–t to make the word sat.

  • Set 1:
    • s, a, t, p – at, a, sat, pat, tap, sap, as
  • Set 2:
    • i – it, is, sit, pit, tip
    • n – an, in, nip, pan, nap
    • m – am, man, mat, map, Tim
    • d – dad, and, sad, dim, Sid
  • Set 3:
    • g – tag, gag, sag, gas, pig
    • o – got, on, not, top, dog
    • c – can, cot, cop, cap, cod
    • k – kid, kit, Kim, Ken
  • Set 4:
    • ck – kick, sack, dock, sick, pocket
    • e – get, pet, ten, net, pen
    • u – up, mum, run, mug, cup
    • r – rip, ram, rat, rocket, carrot
  • Set 5:
    • h – had, him, his, hot, hut
    • b – but, big, back, bed, bus
    • f, ff – of, if, off, fit, fog, puff
    • l, ll – let, leg, lot, bell, doll
    • ss – less, hiss, mass, mess, boss
  • Phase 2 tricky words:
    • the, to, no, go, I, into

Video: How to blend sounds to read words

Suzy Ditchburn explains how letter sounds can be blended to read words, and gives tips on how to practise phonics with your child.

Phase 3 Letters and Sounds

Approx. age: 4–5 | Reception In Phase 3, children build on the letter-sound correspondences learned in Phase 2. They learn consonant digraphs (sounds made up of two letters together such as ‘ch’ or ‘ll’) and long vowel sounds (such as ‘igh’ or ‘ai’).

  • Set 6:
    • j – jet, jam, jog, Jan
    • v – van, vet, velvet
    • w – wig, will, web
    • b – fox, box, six
  • Set 7:
    • y – yes, yet, yell
    • z – zip, zig-zag
    • zz – buzz, jazz
    • qu – quit, quick, liquid
  • Consonant digraphs:
    • ch – chip, chat, rich
    • sh – shop, shed, fish
    • th – thin, moth, that
    • ng – ring, thing, song
  • Vowel digraphs and trigraphs:
    • ai – rain, tail, aim
    • ee – bee, leek, see
    • igh – high, sigh, might
    • oa – boat, toad, foal
    • oo – boot, food, moon
    • oo – book, wood, foot
    • ar – park, art, car
    • or – for, torn, fork
    • ur – hurt, fur, surf
    • ow – cow, owl, town
    • oi – coin, boil, oil
    • ear – dear, shear, year
    • air – fair, pair, hair
    • ure – sure, pure, manure
    • er – dinner, summer, letter
  • Phase 3 tricky words:
    • he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her

Phase 4 Letters and Sounds

Approx. age: 4–5 | Reception Children will consolidate their knowledge during this phase and they will learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants (for example, trap, strong, milk and crept).

  • Phase 4 tricky words:
    • said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what

Phase 5 Letters and Sounds

Approx. age: 5–6 | Year 1 Children will learn some new graphemes for reading. They will also be taught alternative pronunciations for known graphemes. For example, they have already learned ow as in cow and will now learn ow as in blow.

In addition, they will learn alternative spellings for known phonemes. For example, the sound /igh/ has been learned as the grapheme igh as in ‘night’, but can also be spelled y, ie, and i-e.

  • New graphemes for reading:
    • ay – day, play, crayon
    • ou – cloud, sound, about
    • ie – pie, tie, cried
    • ea – sea, meat, read
    • oy – toy, enjoy, boy
    • ir – bird, shirt, first
    • ue – blue, true, glue
    • aw – paw, claw, yawn
    • wh – wheel, whisper, when
    • ph – photo, dolphin, alphabet
    • ew – new, crew, flew
    • oe – toe, foe, tomatoes
    • au – Paul, launch, haul
    • a-e – make, game, snake
    • e-e – these, Eve, extreme
    • i-e – like, time, slide
    • o-e – home, bone, pole
    • u-e – rule, June, flute
  • Phase 5 tricky words:
    • oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could

Phase 6 Letters and sounds

Approx. age: 6–7 | Year 2 In Phase 6 children will read with increasing fluency. They will have learned most of the common letter-sound correspondences and can read familiar words automatically without needing to sound out and blend.

Children will work on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters, and so on.

At the end of Year 1 your child will sit a ‘Phonic screening test’. The results from the test is sent through to the local authority. The main purpose of the test is to assess how much phonics your child has learnt since reception. If your child fails, they will have the opportunity to re-sit in Year 2.

The class teacher will assess your child and they use the following video as a guide to assessment.


Generate your own phonic screening check paper: Click here


YouTube is another great resource for your child. There are many videos which can help your child remember and apply the sounds.

Tricky words:

If you have any further questions, please contact Miss Mills (English Lead).

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Rainbow Primary School implements a whole-school preventative approach to managing safeguarding concerns, ensuring that the wellbeing of pupils is at the forefront of all action taken. We expect all staff, Trust, volunteers and visitors to share this commitment and maintain a safe environment.

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Contact Us

Rainbow Primary School, Nelson Street, Bradford, BD5 0HD

Phone: 01274 221400 Email: info@rainbowschools.org.uk

Our office staff taking calls are: Miss Thommis-Newberry, Mrs Sumera Qayyum and Mr Rauf
Arshad Javed – CEO | Dame Naila Zaffar – Executive Head | (BCL Consultancy Limited) Andrew Kenure – SEND
Asmi Darr – Chairperson  –  chairperson@rainbowschools.org.uk or
by post C/O Rainbow Primary School, Nelson Street, Bradford, BD5 0HD