What is Phonics and Early Reading?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write by blending and segmenting individual sounds. At Poppleton Road Primary School we follow Twinkl Phonics.

Twinkl Phonics is a fully comprehensive, synthetic phonics teaching programme designed to be used with children from Reception to Year 2. Delivered through the stories and adventures of Kit, Sam and the Twinkl Phonics family, the scheme builds and develops the skills and understanding children need to become effective, independent readers and writers.

Children take part in daily phonics sessions. These sessions focus on key reading skills such as decoding to read words and segmenting the sounds in a given word to spell. During phonics lessons we also teach children to read and write ‘tricky words’. These are words that you cannot sound out and children are just expected to remember how to read and write.

In Reception we will continually do activities from Level 1 and then teach Levels 2, 3 and 4. In Year 1, we teach Level 5 and in Year 2, we teach Level 6. Below is some information from Twinkl Phonics about each of these levels and some parent packs giving further information about each level and how you can help support at home.

How is Phonics and Early Reading 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. All children are able to apply their phonics learning through reading a Rhino Reader book each week. Rhino Readers are closely matched to the Twinkl Phonics Scheme. All children also take part in whole class guided reading sessions. These are based on a relevant Rhino Reader. Children practise their phonics whilst also developing their fluency and comprehension skills.

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’.

Below is some more information about the scheme that we use.

Why do we teach Phonics and Early Reading?

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 and reading 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

Early Reading Offer

Rhino Reader Books

KS2 Phonics

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.

We do a number of things in KS2 to ensure these children gain knowledge and ensure they become confident readers and proficient at spelling. These things are done in class and in small group interventions.

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.

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.

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.

KS2 Phonics

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.

We do a number of things in KS2 to ensure these children gain knowledge and ensure they become confident readers and proficient at spelling. These things are done in class and in small group interventions.

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.

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.

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.