Jolly Phonics

At St. Helen’s Primary School, we use Jolly Phonics to teach our children to read and to help them to begin their writing journey.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is the teaching of the sounds that letters make, rather than the names of letters that are taught in the alphabet; it is the sounds that are useful for reading and writing, not the names. These sounds are taught in a systematic way, alongside all of the skills needed for being a fluent reader and writer. Jolly Phonics also teaches all of this in a fun, engaging way, through characters, stories, actions, songs and games!

-Jolly Phonics is taught to all pupils in Foundation Stage and KS1

-It is also taught to pupils in Years 2, 3 and 4 who need to develop their skills further

Children are taught to:

-Decode letter-sound correspondences using their phonic knowledge and skills

-Read common exception words

-Read aloud with fluency and expression

-Write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar (Jolly Phonics Grammar Year 1 and 2)

-Spell quickly and with confidence by segmenting the sounds in words.

-To gain comprehension

We ensure that pupils read books which are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. Pupils are able to take home decodable books from a variety of reading books. This is to ensure that pupils are exposed to a wide range of vocabulary at an appropriate level for their development.

-Alongside our use of phonics, the teachers in our school read a wide range of stories including poetry and non-fiction (see our 'English' tab for more information)

How Jolly Phonics works: (taken from

1. Learning the letter sounds: Children are taught 42 letter sounds, which is a mix of alphabet sounds (1 sound – 1 letter) and digraphs (1 sound – 2 letters) such as sh, th, ai and ue. Using a multi-sensory approach, each letter sound is introduced with fun actions, stories and songs. We teach the letter sounds in 7 groups of 6 letters at a pace of 4-5 sounds a week. Children can start reading after the first group of letters have been taught and should have been introduced to all the 42 letter sounds after 9 weeks at school.

2. Learning letter formation: This is taught alongside the introduction of each letter sound. Typically, children will learn how to form and write the letters letter down during the course of the lesson.

3. Blending: Once the first few letter sounds are learnt, children begin blending the sounds together to help them read and write new words.

4. Segmenting: When children start reading words, they also need to start identifying the phonic components that make the word sound the way it does. By teaching blending and segmenting at the same time, children become familiar with assembling and breaking down the sounds within words.

5. Tricky words: These are words with irregular parts, such as ‘who’ and ‘I’. Children learn these as exceptions to the rules of phonics. Introducing the common tricky words early in the year increases reading fluency (as they frequently occur in those first simple sentences you might expect them to read).

To watch:

Learning the letter sounds:

Learning letter formation:


Identifying sounds in words:

Tricky words:

Latest News
Jun 14, 2024, 10:34 AM
Key Stage 1 Sports Day
1st - St George - 239 points 2nd - St Andrew - 238 points 3rd - St David - 234 points 4th - St Patrick - 190 points…
Jun 13, 2024, 8:57 AM
Athletics Championships
The children had a fabulous time representing St. Helen's at the Athletics Championships. Here we are celebrating coming 3rd…
View all latest news