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ACET Phonics

At Listerdale Junior Academy we follow the ACET Phonics and Early Reading Programme. This is a validated systematic, synthetic programme that was developed by experienced teachers and Phonics Leads across our trust and in collaboration with an English Hub. The ACET programme is ambitious and has been designed to continually consolidate previously taught phonics while children are acquiring new knowledge. At Listerdale we passionately believe reading is the key to a child’s success and we aim for all our pupils reach their full potential.

What is Systematic Synthetic Phonics?

Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) is a structured and cumulative method of teaching pupils to read and spell. The ‘synthetic’ in SSP comes from the synthesising or ‘blending’ of sounds to make a word. The ‘systematic’ represents a bottom-up approach, in that lessons begin not with whole words but with sounds first.  In SSP words are broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes) and pupils learn how to blend these sounds together to say or read words. Children are also taught how sounds are represented as letters or groups of letters (graphemes) and how they can ‘segment’ these sounds to spell.

Overview of ACET Phonics 

The ACET Phonics and Early Reading Programme has been divided up into six clear phases. Additionally, each phase has then been divided into sub-phases. Children begin Phase 1 activities in Nursery and should have completed Phase 5F by the time they leave Year 1. Pupils then access phase 6 (spelling patterns) in Year 2.

The phonics progression chart below shows the phase pupils should be secure with to be age related at the end of each half term.


How is Phonics taught at Listerdale?

Phonics is taught through daily sequential phonics lessons that are fast-paced and repetitive. We know that children thrive when consistent and familiar routines are put in place. The phonics groups are streamed, which means children are in a group that matches their ability based on assessments. The groups are taught by a variety of phonics experts and are of varying sizes. All phonics lessons are structured the same from phase 2, - phase 5, thus meaning all children receive the same high-quality learning experiences. This is essential for developing their confidence in phonics and application to wider curriculum learning. We follow the structure of revisit, teach, practise and apply.

Assessment for learning (AFL) takes place throughout the lesson. Any misconceptions of pronunciation, reading and spelling with GPCs are addressed with instant feedback.

Please click here to download an example of the ACET Phonics planning


When do pupils learn Phonics?

Phonics starts in Nursery. The focus isn’t on reading words just yet but on learning all the vitally important skills to help to move onto reading words. Listening skills are developed and pupils will practice making sounds with their bodies and their mouths. They also develop their Fine Motor Skills, ready for holding a pencil.

In Reception, from the very first day, all pupils start Phase 2 phonics (this means learning the letter sounds and beginning to put them together to read and spell words). The progression of Phonics throughout Reception and Year 1 follows the structure below, with each phase covering a variety of sounds, tricky words an high frequency words

In Year 2, pupils progress onto spelling rules, where they learn spelling rules/patterns, tenses and other grammatical terms such as homophones and suffixes. Reading larger texts is a focus along with ensuring that pupils know which sound to use when spelling. Any pupil who are not meeting the required expectations for their year group are swiftly identified through a rigorous assessment process and interventions are put in place to ensure pupils catch-up quickly.



Assessment is a fundamental part of the ACET Phonics Scheme. Upon entering Reception all children are baselined using the phase tests. Phase tests are then completed, one-to-one, every 6 weeks as a minimum, on the relevant phase (see assessment schedule below). These assessments allow our practitioners to establish which phase each the child needs to learn, what gaps they have to fill and what book they should take home. The phase tests are divided into the sub-phases and assesses the child’s ability to; recognise sounds, read words containing certain sounds, read tricky and high frequency words and read sentences. They also allow staff to gauge each child’s level of fluency.

Once the phase tests have been completed, this information and is used to ‘stream’ the children into specific phonics groups. This means a child is placed in a specific group relevant to their need rather than their year group. Groups are based upon what the child needs to learn next. It is important that children are closing gaps and are therefore placed in a group where their next steps will be covered.

Decodable Books

The ACET SSP has been designed around the Floppy Phonics books from Oxford Reading Tree. The progression is ambitious and allows opportunities for pupils to embed their knowledge and become fluent readers. The most important part to note is that no child will read a book where they have not been taught the sounds. For example, a child will only bring home a 3a book when they have been taught all phase 3a sounds. 

Read and Repeat

The ACET SSP encourages the children to complete a ‘Read and Repeat’ cycle to support their fluency development. It also promotes a love of reading and the importance of discussion around stories. This means each week (for the whole week) each child accessing phonics will take home –

  • One phonic reading book from their current sub-phase for them to read to their parents/ carers.
  • One ‘reading for pleasure’ book from the school library for their parents/ carers to read to/with them.

Your child should be able to read their phonics book independently and with 100% accuracy. By the end of the week they should be reading this at a quicker pace.


Additional Support for Pupils

The ACET SSP underpins the aim that every child will learn to read. In order to achieve this, pupils will need to learn to ‘crack the phonics code’. For some pupils this may take longer and therefore additional support that is responsive to their specific needs is put in place.

Our Catch Up Programme (CUP) has been designed to support pupils who are working towards the expected standard of phonics. Our rigorous tracking highlights pupils at risk of falling behind, enabling early identification and additional provision to meet their needs. The structure of the CUP is that in addition to their daily phonics lesson pupils access a 15-minute session delivered using the same structure but with a quicker pace, including word level and sentence level reading and writing.


For any child working behind the age related expectations of the programme’s overview, interventions are quickly put in place. Below is an outline of each of the interventions and their purpose.

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

This is a formal test that the children take at the end of Year 1. They will complete it 1 to 1 with a teacher in school. The test is a list of 40 real and pseudo (alien) words. As a child goes through the test they are expected to apply more advanced phonics skills. The pass mark changes year to year but it is usually 32+. Children who do not pass in Year 1 are required to retake the test at the end of Year 2.

At Listerdale Junior Academy we will prepare children for this test from FS2 onwards in an informal and fun way. Children will practise the skills need to pass through games and hands on activities.



Do you want to learn more?

Listerdale Junior Academy appreciates that phonics is fairly complicated and certainly not how many people were taught to read at school in the past therefore to help make parents/carers feel as comfortable as possible, throughout each academic year there will be various sessions that you can attend or videos that you can watch in order to learn more about the vocabulary, the strategies and the ways you can support your child at home.We're always willing to help, so please come and see us if you have any questions. 


Click on the pictures below to download guides/resources to help your child at home





Useful Websites 

Letters and Sounds

Phonics Play

Phonics Screening Check


Useful Videos

Pronouncing sounds correctly 

Blending sounds to read words

What are sound buttons?  

What is the Phonics Screening Check?

What are alien words and why do we read them?