This unit focuses on securing knowledge of graphemes and phonemes. The criteria for knowing and understanding a grapheme can help you assess whether children are secure with this concept. See which sets of Grapheme Phoneme Correspondances (GPCs) this unit focuses on, find out who it is aimed at and what problems they might be facing.

Aims and outcomes

By the end of this unit, children need to understand that the letter name is constant but the sound it makes may change according to its position within a word and the other letters in the word. One way of describing this to the children could be 'A dog is always called a dog but it can make different sounds, growl, bark, whine. In the same way the letter a can sound /a/ as in apple but also /ai/ as in grape.'

A grapheme is known and understood when the child can:

  • distinguish it from the other shapes
  • recognise and articulate the sound (phoneme) associated with the shape
  • recall the shape when given the sound
  • write the grapheme
  • name the letter/s
  • recall and recognise the shape of the letter from its name.

Focus GPCs

The progression taught at Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 consists of 7 sets:

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
Set 6 j v w x
Set 7 y z, zz q  

Who is this for?

Children in Key Stage 2 will have been taught phonics through programmes such as Letters and Sounds or other systematic phonics programmes, or as part of Early Literacy Support or Year 3 Literacy Support. The majority of children will have a secure understanding of the alphabetic code and its application to reading and writing.

This unit is for a small number of children, probably in Year 3, or individuals in later years, who need to revisit this phase to secure their knowledge of consonants and short vowels.

Common problems

This unit is designed to help children who:

  • do not reliably know all the Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondences in Phase 2
  • confuse specific graphemes and phonemes
  • have not yet understood how to segment and blend three-phoneme words for spelling and reading. In this case, it is well worth spending time on securing their ability to blend and segment orally – that is, without reference to any letters. Once children understand the concept of blending and segmenting words orally through games such as 'sound-talk', they will find it easier to transfer the concept to reading and writing.

Delivering the sessions

You can offer the small group of children or individuals at this stage daily discrete 15-minute sessions in addition to the class literacy session. It is important that children at this stage revisit and revise all known graphemes and the associated phonemes, as well as the letter names.