Phonics – Phase Four

When children start Phase Four of the Letters and Sounds phonics programme, they will know a grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes. They will be able to blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) 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.

Phoneme means the smallest unit of sound. There are 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme means the 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.

Knowing a GPC (grapheme-phoneme correspondence), means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

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. This is the basis of reading.

Oral Segmenting – This is the act of hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.

Segmenting – This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes 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. This is the basis of spelling.


In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children's knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.

The children are also taught to spell the following 'tricky words' (words which can't yet be decoded):

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

and to read these tricky words:

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

Typically this phase will last for 4 – 8 weeks with assessments taking place every 4 weeks.

Have a look at the pages for the previous phase in order to find out more about what the children have already been taught and to view video clips which show how the sounds are articulated.