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Phonics and Early Reading

Early Years and Key Stage One Phonics


Success (Intent)

At Poppleton Road, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. Through daily, systematic and consistent high quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words.

To allow our children to effectively develop these skills, we have chosen to use a synthetic phonics programme called Twinkl Phonics. This method of learning is centred around learning letter sounds (including digraphs and trigraphs), developing strategies to read and spell words and applying these skills within a daily story context. 

We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school, enabling them to access a broad and exciting curriculum and ensuring that all children flourish as learners throughout their time at our school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.


Enjoyment (Implementation)

The Twinkl Phonics Progression Map sets clear expectations for pupil’s progress within the programme. The dynamic and engaging materials delivered in the daily planning packs within Levels 2-6 ensure a clearly defined structure to the teaching of phonics. The direct teacher-led lessons enable all learners to develop and apply new skills while also providing opportunities to further apply these skills within fun and engaging activities and through continuous provision.

We make sure that all pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers. Children bring home a Rhino Reader book matched to their phonics level on a weekly basis, have access to online Twinkl Go books and also have regular opportunities to choose additional reading books to enjoy at home with an adult.


Safety (Impact)

The impact of using the Twinkl Phonics Programme as the basis of our phonics teaching within Early Years and Key Stage 1 ensures that all children have the skills and knowledge to access the full curriculum and become successful life-long learners.

Pupils who have a good understanding of phonics become resilient, independent and confident learners. It is our priority in Phonics, to help support all children in this area to be the best that they can be. Those who need additional support in this area, will access bespoke interventions to allow for them to experience success at their own level.


Community (Impact)

Through our systematic phonics approach, it is our intention that all children will be able to understand and promote successful communication with everyone around them.

Through a secure phonics understanding, all pupils will become enthusiastic and critical readers. This will instil a love of reading and a lifelong enjoyment of reading. In turn will help to enhance a deep love of literature across a range of genres and cultures.


How is Phonics taught in Early Years and Key Stage One?

As soon as the children start school, they take part in daily phonics lessons. Each lesson follows the same structure:

  1. Revisit sounds and key words that have already learnt
  2. Introduce/teach new sound or word
  3. Practice using this new sound or words through different visual, kinaesthetic and auditory activities
  4. Apply new sound or word by reading/writing it in sentences.


We have a clear long term plan in place for teaching phonics across Early Years and Key Stage One. We follow Twinkl Phonics which is an accredited phonics scheme. This is split into 6 levels. The majority of children start at Level 2 when they first start school. Further information about Twinkl Phonics is shown in some of the slides below.


As well as taking part in a daily phonics lesson, children are then exposed to that week's sound(s) through a mini book in their reading carousel sessions. Relevant homework linked to that week's sound(s) is sent home on a weekly basis and an electronic book focusing on that week's sound(s) is allocated to each pupil so they can reinforce their learning at home.


Occasionally children need further support with their phonics. This is done through extra phonics teaching usually in small groups with a teacher or teaching assistant at another point during the day. Alternatively individuals may take part in a one to one phonics intervention three times a week. This is called 'Precision Phonics'.

Why do we teach Phonics?

We strongly believe in the importance of phonics in children's education.

Being a confident reader and writer is a valuable life skill. As such we place a lot of emphasis on ensuring our children get the very best support and provision possible eg providing extra teaching assistants to support reading during guided reading sessions.

We constantly review and adapt our planning to suit the needs and progress of the children. Intervention programmes are put in place for those who need further support.  

Strong links between school and home are essential. 

Supporting children with their phonics at home

The very best way to support your child is by reading with them/listening to them read on a daily basis. Our reading books are sorted and labelled to closely match the phonics levels. 

Read and writing tricky words/common exception words on a daily basis is really useful too. 

Twinkl Go is an excellent online program for reinforcing phonics learning.



Phonics Screening Check

Children who are in Year 1 take part in a statutory phonics screening check. This is usually in June. They read 40 real and nonsense words to a teacher on an individual basis so that we can see how they are understanding and using their phonics. They are then given a pass mark out of 40. This information is sent to parents and carers. Children who do not achieve the required pass mark in Year 1, can then take the next phonics screening test when they are in Year 2.

Key terms we are using

Digraphs – two  letters making one sound eg ch, sh, th

Trigraph – three letters making one sound eg air, ure, ear

Split digraph – two letters make one sound but these letters have been split apart by another letter eg a-e as in cake, o-e as in pole

Phoneme – a single unit of sound

Grapheme – a written letter or group of letters that represent a sound

Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word eg the sound d-o-g are blended together to make dog

Segment – to break down a word into its individual sounds to spell eg bath is made up of b-a-th sound


Other resources that might be useful

Early Reading Offer

Rhino Reader Books

KS2 Phonics 

What is taught in KS2 Phonics? 


Some children, when entering into KS2 still require phonics instruction to enable them to read and write at their age-appropriate level. In KS2, phonics is taught as a continuation from KS1 and alongside Support for Spelling for each year group. The focus remains on oral segmenting and decoding of phase 1-6 phonetic sounds but will be used in context with age-appropriate texts where possible. 


When are specific skills and knowledge taught? 

KS2 phonics is taught during whole-class support for spelling sessions at least three times a week. For any children who require phase 2-5 phonics specifically, they will be taught these phases during group-specific interventions additionally to these sessions. 


How do we teach ks2 Phonics? 


Spelling Banks 

Teachers provide spelling banks for children when writing. Teachers can provide content and activities that ‘glue’ the words in these spelling banks together, such as themed spelling stories involving grapheme searches, reading the stories with comprehension or acting out the words.

They choose appropriate words to enrich spoken language, with attention to homophones and including dictionary work and grammar activities alongside.


Oral Segmenting at KS2 

Following oral segmenting (identification of the sounds from beginning to end of spoken words), teachers and learners can discuss which spelling alternatives are required for specific words, with reference to the chart (see below). 

We only need letter names in spelling to relay a correct spelling from one person to another – letter by letter. The skill of oral segmenting for spelling (starting with syllable chunking in multi-syllable words) should continue in KS2 – including making it explicit that this spelling skill is an adult skill, not just 'baby stuff’.


Decoding at KS2 

If children are able to decode age-appropriate texts, it improves their intellectual development and self-esteem – especially important for those receiving a phonics intervention beyond the main class.

For longer-term reading and increasing vocabulary, the ability to phonically decode new and unknown words is essential. If a printed word is new to the reader, it is sometimes possible to deduce its meaning according to its context. However, if the reader is not able to come up with pronunciation for that word – either aloud or silently – it cannot be added to spoken language. Therefore providing texts that build on children's knowledge of phonics, even in KS2, can increase their fluency and their understanding of the wider world. 


Why do we teach phonics in KS2? 


Some children at Key Stage 2 may be experiencing difficulty in reading and/or writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of systematic phonics teaching. In their day-to-day learning some children may:

• experience difficulties with blending for reading and segmenting for spelling

• show confusion with certain graphemes and related phonemes

• have difficulty segmenting longer words containing adjacent consonants

• demonstrate general insecurity with long vowel phonemes. For example, children generally know the most common representation of a phoneme, for example, /ai/ as in train, but require more explanation and practice about the alternative spellings for any particular phoneme.