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 Phonics at Townfield Primary School

'To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.'

Victor Hugh

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What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English Language.

Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they're combined will help children decode words as they read.

Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.

Phomics involves matching the sounds of spoken  English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound K can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.

Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example when a child is taught the sounds for the letters s, a, t and p, they can start to build up the words tap, taps, pat, pats and sat.


Phonincs at Townfield Primary School

In line with the School’s policy and commitment to the excellence in Phonics, each class in Reception and KS1 will teach phonics as a discrete lesson every day and will include phonics as part of teaching and learning throughout other curriculum lessons on a daily basis. The structure of each lesson at Townfield and the journey of Phonics across the week enables all aspects of the blending and segmenting of phonemes/graphemes; lessons are uniquely planned and tailored to meet the needs of all our learners. 

The teacher should provide stimulating experiences and opportunities to motivate the child, using a range of resources to engage individuals and groups of children. 

The ability to read is within the reach of every child. The most direct route is through systematically taught 'synthetic phonics'. At Townfield we follow a 'phonics first' approach to reading, where children learn to decode (read) and encode (spell) printed words quickly and fluently by blending and segmenting letter sounds. Our teaching and learning follows the progression of 'Letters and Sounds' organised into 6 phases and enhanced for the expectation of the new National Curriculum 2014.

We support the childrne's application of phonics into their reading by using Phonics Bug,Oxford Reading Tree and Collins phonics readers in school and to send home until the children are able to read with fluency and apply their knowledge of all the letter / sound patterns taught.  Children who are just beginnning to learn the letter / sound correspondence are learning at the same time to tell stories, using books which do not have words to begin with. This is crucial in the development of spoken language and vocabulary. It is a necessary stepping stone towards becoming an accomplished reader and writer. 

At Townfield Primary School we are committed to the delivery of excellence in the teaching of Phonics. We aim to develop each child so that they are able to read with fluency as well as develop a love of reading that will stay with our children all their lives.

Phase One
Before they can learn to read, children need to develop their listening and visual skills.

A crucial listening skill is phonological awareness, the ability to discriminate different sounds such as the different endings of the words "cut" and "cup." This develops naturally as children learn to listen to the sounds around them. Music, poems and nursery rhymes and everyday sounds are all key elements in developing this skill.

The visual skills which help children to acquire letter knowledge include shape recognition, and the ability to visually sort and classify objects.

Children generally develop most of these skills naturally through their interactions with parents and caregivers. Their reception year teacher will help them continue developing these skills before introducing them to a formal reading programme.


Here are some photographs of our children in Nursery Class exploring and playing with sounds. 

Phase Two

Once they have acquired the necessary basic skills, children are gradually introduced to their first graphemes and the sounds they represent. These may be single letters, such as s and n, or pairs of letters, such as ck. These first graphemes consistently represent the same sound. Children are encouraged to blend the graphemes together in order to sound out words (as in our previous example of s + a + m = sam) as soon as they have learnt enough graphemes to do so.

These children in our Reception class are using and applying their knowledge of Phase 2 sounds to read and write. Well done Reception!

Phase Three

Children are introduced to an additional 25 graphemes. These consist of both single letters and digraphs, groups of letters (generally pairs) which represent a single sound. They learn consonant digraphs such as "sh" and "th" first, and then vowel digraphs such as "oa" and "oo".

This is also the stage at which children begin to learn sight words. These are common words that cannot always be sounded out according to the synthetic phonics method. These include words such as she, they, and you among others.

Phase Four

At this stage children practice the skills they have learnt and learn to blend groups of consonants such as tr, str and lk. They also continue to learn more sight words. 

Phase Five

Once children can read words automatically without having to sound them out, they learn more vowel digraphs and different ways to write the same sound. For example, the words wail, way and whale all show different ways of representing the same ay sound. They also learn alternative pronunciations for the same graphemes, such as the ea in tea, head and break. They also continue adding sight words to their repertoire.

Phase Six
At this stage pupils are able to read familiar words automatically, and decode most new words silently without having to sound them out aloud, although they may need to sound out complex unfamiliar words. The goal at this stage is for children to improve their reading fluency by reading a wide variety of material, both fiction and non-fiction, to develop their spelling accuracy and writing skill.


Please see the attached document 'Progression and Pace' in Phonics so that you can visualise the different phases your child will be taught. 




Information for Parents / Carers

Below is a link to an excellent video which explains clearly and simply how to support your children in learning to read with phonics. The website  (parent section) has lots of advice in the form of videos and animations and also you can access lots of free ebooks to help with reading at home.

This website can help to ensure that you are helping your child to pronounce the phoenemes correctly.

This is a super game to support our phonics first approach to reading and is ideal to play on Ipads, Iphone and Ipod Touch.

See the source image

Overview of Phonics Progression

There is documents attached that will provide further information on the Overview of Phonics Progression from Phase 1 to Phase 6 and National Curriculum requirements for Year 1 and Year 2. Please see attached the documents to provide further infomation. 

Please also see Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 5 sound mats which you can use to help your child practise their sounds at home. 



Attached is a list of Tricky Words that Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will need to be able to read first and then spell independently. These words will be stuck into the back of your child's reading record and will be highlighted each half term, once words are read by sight.

Activities and ideas on how to help your child at home. 

Attached is a series of links and activities for Phase 2 - Phase 5. Please use the links to download the documents for the required phase and print the activities as many times as you like.

Reception children should use Phase 2, 3 and 4 documents . 

Year 1 children should use Phase 3,4 and 5 documents.

Phonics Screening Check

Each year, all children in Year 1, in all schools, must take the Phonics Screening Check. Some children in Year 2 are also required to take this screening check either because they did not take it in Year 1 or becuase their Year 1 score did not meet the required standard.  The check usually happens in June each year.

For 2020 / 2021 academic year only, schools will be required to administer a past version of the phonics screening check to all Year 2 pupils during the second half of 2020 Autumn Term.

Y2 children who meet the expected standard in the Autumn check will not
be required to complete any further statutory assessments in phonics.
Y2 pupils who do not meet the expected standard in the Autumn Check
will be expected to take the statutory check in June 2021.

The check will be kept as low key and comfortable as possible for the children and will provide important information about their early reading development. 

We hold a meeting each year to explain the basics of the screening check before it happens so please look out for the date. At the meeting we will show you an example of the kind of words your child will need to read and give examples of how you can support your child at home before the screening takes place. 

For more information the following link will take you to a website which explains things in more detail.

Please find attached more resources to help prepare your child for the phoncs screening check including past papers and word lists to read. (Phonics screening) 



Files to Download

Get in Touch

Townfield Primary School

Townfield Lane, Prenton, Wirral, CH43 2LH

T: 0151 652 8498


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