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St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

Rosebank, West Street, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 7RT
Tel. 01372 727850

Phonics and Reading

Children will only move up a level once they have secured 98% fluency in their phonics and reading. Then, we know that they are fluently able to access the texts of the books they read and thereby make better progress and enjoy their reading.

The table below outlines the early phonic stages of reading  in the school. 



Tricky Words

1 “Share and read together”

Tuning in to sounds. Listening and remembering sounds.
Talking about sounds. Primarily these books have no words.



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

  • no
  • go
  • I


Set 6: j, v, w, x


Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

  • he
  • she
  • we
  • me
  • be
  • was
  • you
  • they
  • all
  • are
  • my
  • her


They will know a grapheme for each of the 42 phonemes. They will be able to blend phonemes to read CVC words and segment in order to spell them.

Children will also have begun reading straightforward two-syllable words and simple captions, as well as reading and spelling some tricky words.

In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced.

The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children's and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.

  • said
  • have
  • like
  • so
  • do
  • some
  • come
  • were
  • there
  • little
  • one
  • when
  • out
  • what


Children entering Phase Five will already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words.

In Phase Five, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make.

Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.

ay day    oy boy    wh when

a-e make    ou out    ir girl

ph photo    e-e these    ie tie

ue blue    ew new    i-e like

ea eat    aw saw    oe toe

au Paul   o-e home   u-e rule

  • oh
  • their
  • people
  • Mr
  • Mrs
  • looked
  • called
  • asked
  • could

Making  Progress in Reading
Once children have been assessed as secure in Phase 5 phonics, they then move onto the PM Benchmarking colour stages, where we also have a full range of books (Oxford Reading Tree, Usbourne, Project X). This variety ensures children are exposed to a wide range of texts, fonts, pictures, characters and content. For books after phase 5, children also need to have a 75% comprehension confidence in that level alongside the 98% fluency. 

The final four levels of reading (Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Black) and enhanced for the children by being located in inspirational reading zones:

  • Wonderland
  • Narnia
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Hogwarts

Our extensive library resources encourage reading as a passion, and we are very proud of how well our children read from an early age. 

Our children reach a level of confidence with their reading which is impressive, so much so that from an early age they are happy to read in front of audiences in assemblies and in church.