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River Primary School

River Primary School


Phonics at River


At River Primary School, our aim is to ensure that all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage Two and believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, discrete phonics teaching combined with a whole language approach that promotes a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ culture. The Rose Report (2006) emphasised high quality phonics as an important part of the word decoding skills required by children to develop higher level whole language and comprehension skills. This approach is in alignment with our belief that we first ‘learn to read’ and then ‘read to learn’. Bold Beginnings (November 2017) stated that “All primary schools should: make sure that the teaching of reading, including systematic synthetic phonics, is the core purpose of the Reception Year.” This document is aimed at reinforcing a consistent, high quality approach to the teaching of phonics across the Early Years Foundation Stage, (EYFS,) Key Stage One and on into Key Stage Two for children who still need this further support.

Phonics is a body of knowledge that is necessary for children to learn to read and spell. Due to the alphabetic code of English , children are taught explicitly the correspondences between letters and sounds (graphemes and phonemes), as well as the skill of blending the individual sounds together to read. The term ‘synthetic’ phonics refers to the verb ‘synthesise’, meaning ‘to combine’. The skill of segmenting words into their individual sounds is needed for spelling. Word reading and spelling are ‘reversible processes’.


Reading involves blending sounds to say a whole word; spelling involves segmenting a whole word to identify the sounds in it.



*To teach children aural discrimination, phonemic awareness and rhyme to aid reading, writing and spelling development.

* To encourage the use of segmenting and blending so that decoding and encoding skills provide a sound foundation for reading, writing and spelling.

 *To ensure the teaching of phonics is lively, interactive and engaging within lessons and is interwoven through each day to ensure retention of knowledge.

*To enable children to use phonic awareness across the curriculum in order to support their learning in both foundation and core subjects.

 *To ensure that children know the 44 phonemes within the English language.

*To teach children to recognise the graphemes within words and associate them with the appropriate phoneme when reading.

*To provide children with strategies to read and spell common exception words whilst securing children’s understanding of why they are ‘exception’ words.



*To provide consistent, high quality phonics teaching that ensures all children have a strong foundation upon which to tackle the complex processes of reading and writing.

*To ensure that the teaching of synthetic phonics is systematic and progressive throughout the foundation stage, key stage one and key stage two for those children needing additional provision to support phonetic knowledge and understanding.

*To ensure that children have sound phonetic knowledge, understanding and skills so that they can decode words confidently and engage with higher order reading and writing skills across the curriculum.


Teaching Phonics

From their first day in Foundation Stage at River Primary School, children are taught systematic synthetic phonics. Discrete phonics lessons are taught daily across all classes key stage 1. In recognition of the importance of phonics teaching, opportunities to consolidate and build on the discrete learning in these lessons are identified and used by class teachers throughout the day and across all curriculum areas. This teaching is also supported within daily whole class guided reading sessions, the structure of which, will include an aspect of children applying decoding skills in order to develop fluency.  The timetable for each class in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 will include daily opportunities to share a story and read a poem, whilst also providing opportunities for children to sing songs and nursery rhymes. Teacher modelling is used to scaffold learning using the ‘my go – our go – your go’ model used for grapheme recognition, segmenting and blending.


Phonological awareness.

Phonological awareness is the ability to reflect upon and manipulate the sounds structures of language through word, syllable and phonemes. When beginning in Foundation Stage, the importance of developing children’s phonemic awareness is recognised as a secure foundation for learning grapheme - phoneme correspondences.

Before a child can make good progress in learning the written representation of sounds they need to be able to:

• recognise speech sounds as distinct from other environmental sounds

• isolate individual words in speech flow (waddayouwant?)

• recognise that words can rhyme (dock/clock Jill/hill)

• recognise that words have syllable structure (Pe/ppa/  Pig)

• recognise onset and rime (f-ish    ch-ips)

• recognise that words can begin and end with the same sound and have different medial sound(s) e.g. pip, pup, pop

• recognise that words can be broken down into individual phonemes orally (s-p-r-i-ng    J-o-sh-u-a)

• blend and segment sounds orally (without looking at letters or words)

Teachers can assess children’s phonemic awareness and identify next steps by assessing their ability to blend, segment, isolate phonemes, add phonemes, delete and substitute phonemes, ultimately their ability to manipulate the sounds they know.

All children need to be taught to listen and understand what good listening looks like.


Phonics lesson structure

Within each phonics lesson, the objectives should be shared by the teacher so that they are understood by the children, using phrases such as, “by the end of this week you will be able to../ today we are learning to…”. Phonics lessons are well paced to ensure that children have the opportunity to practise and apply the skills as soon as possible.


To ensure consistency, each lesson follows the same structure to ensure the focus is on word reading and GPC learning rather than explanations of activities.

Revisit and review (5 mins) Pupils revise GPCs taught in earlier sessions.

Main Teaching (5 mins) Direct teaching by the class teacher during which pupils are taught new GPC

Practice (10 mins) Allow time for children to work in learning coach pairs or small groups to support each other in practising the key skill

Apply (5 mins) Provide children with a chance for them to apply the key skill independently.

Dictation exercises are included as part of our phonics teaching.

Please see Appendix 2 for bank of activities to support learning.

At River, we recognise the fundamental skills children need before learning phonics

  • Spoken language
  • Physical activity
  • Meta-linguistics
  • Forms of print
  • Ability to symbolise
  • Phonological awareness


Monster Phonics

At River, Monster Phonics is the systematic synthetic phonics programme used to support phonics teaching. The programme is based on the statutory requirements of The National Curriculum, Appendix 1 and includes all grapheme-phoneme correspondences and spelling rules, as shown in the programme overviews.

Sounds are categorised into 10 colour groups and each colour has a corresponding monster character. Each monster has a back story and are used throughout the programme. The visual representations of this programme support the children in learning grapheme – phoneme correspondence, whilst also engaging the children in the learning.

A – represented by Angry A

E  - represented by Green Froggy

I -  represented by Yellow I

O - represented by Miss Oh No

U -  represented by Purple U Hoo

OO -  represented by Cool Blue

OW - represented by Brown Owl

The silent letters represented by white silent ghosts

The tricky letters that have changed their sound or grapheme, and that do not fit into any other group are represented by Tricky Witch.

The early graphemes, or initial sounds are represented by Black Cats.


Monster Phonics is the SSP which has been used by the school for a number of years, after the introduction of the new National Curriculum in 2014. The programme offers resources such as colour coded flashcards, rhymes, songs and visual representations to support teaching.  The colour coded ‘monsters’ help children to learn and retain their sound knowledge, acting as a ‘memory hook’, whilst also engaging children’s interest. In following the programme of study in National Curriculum Appendix 1, the SSP provides a structure which, we recognise, supports children in developing their decoding skills and also their encoding skills. This has supported our learners in building on their phonics knowledge to move into understanding spelling rules, particularly when beginning to learn the prefixes and suffixes in Year 1 and building on this knowledge in Year 2. In this way we are following the statutory programme of study.


Lesson Planning

Monster phonics lesson plans are not used in their entirety; all phonics lessons are planned by the class teachers following the lesson format explained above with ‘Monster Phonics’ resources used to support teaching.  To ensure pace and the active engagement of all pupils, we enrich the programme with carefully chosen activities which meet the criteria set down by the DFE for good phonics teaching. We recognise that the colour coded ‘monsters’ help children to learn and retain their sound knowledge, however after learning the GPC, children must apply their knowledge by blending and segmenting words which are not colour coded. The Monster phonics website offers e books which can be used by teaching staff to support children’s learning. There are also teacher copies of Monster phonics books available in the key stage 1 area to support children in applying their knowledge using engaging texts about the monster’s adventures.


The table below shows expectations for teaching GPCs






End point

Foundation Stage

Listening Games (3 weeks)

Following on from Nursery provision;

Children develop listening skills to develop sound discrimination through the use of songs, nursery rhymes, rhythm and rhyme and alliteration. The develop voice sounds and identify different mouth movements.

Grapheme focus: Pink level 1 Including VC CVC



Grapheme focus: build on Pink 1 and complete Pink 2

qu, ch,sh,ng,th,th,ck,ll,zz,ff,ss


Grapheme focus: Red and Yellow 1 to reach ARE FS


igh, ear, air, ure


Children know

pink 1, pink 2, red and yellow 1 graphemes.

Children use phonemes to read and spell

cvc, cvcc,ccvc,ccvcc


Children read Yellow 1 books

Year 1

Assess and Review previous sets (Autumn 1)

and use GAP analysis to teach and secure Pink 1, Pink 2, Red, Yellow 1 graphemes


Grapheme focus: Yellow 2

nk, ve, tch, ay, oy,ey

Grapheme focus:

Blue and Green.

a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e

ou, ea, ir, oe, ew, ue, are, ore, ie, aw, au, ph,wh,zh

Secure understanding and identification of split digraphs.

Alternative Spellings

       Spelling appendix 1:

The sound v at the end of words ( have, live, give)

Compound words

Note : prefixes and suffixes included within appendix 1 + 2 are taught within SPAG


Children have secure GPC up to and including green level graphemes.

Chn reading orange level books.

Year 2

Assess and Review previous Y1 spellings

and use GAP analysis to teach

Secure alternative Spellings


Y2 Spelling Appendix rules

Y2 Spelling Appendix rules

End of Key stage expectation

Children read and know spelling rules for Year 1/ Year 2 spelling appendix

Children have secured fluency reading gold level books with 90% accuracy and have moved on to Accelerated Reader


Decodable books

Decodable books are organised into coloured book bands in the key stage 1 area which match the colours on the grapheme-phoneme correspondence grid used to track children’s progress. Class teachers should use formative assessment of children’s word reading fluency and comprehension skills to review and update the reading level tracker termly.


Class teachers and Teaching Assistants should hear each child in the class read their decodable books at least once every term. Running records should be completed at least once a term to assess children’s fluency and accuracy when decoding. At River, it is recognised that reading fluency is crucial, however it is also important that children have an element of challenge in their reading books. Running records must therefore be completed to assess and identify if children are reading with 90% accuracy. When children are able to apply their phonics knowledge to fluently read words within a coloured book band, teachers will then use evidence from running records and comprehension activities to make the decision to move children to the next colour band.


Children are encouraged to re-read books. Children should take a decodable books home every night and return it to school the following day. When children change reading levels, a book band note should be placed in the front of the reading record which provides parents with information on graphemes being covered and questions to support comprehension. The books in each box have been carefully chosen and organised to support children in applying their phonics, whilst also giving them a variety of genres, texts and reading experiences.



A multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics is used with actions to help children learn and retain their knowledge of sounds. The same actions are used consistently across year groups.



Formative Assessment.

Rigorous formative assessment is undertaken daily and throughout phonics and guided reading lessons to inform future planning and identify children who may need to ‘keep up’. Both Teacher and Teaching Assistant observations in every lesson are essential in assessing learning and identifying learners who may be at risk of falling behind. Additional provision for these children must be immediate and delivered on the same day to ensure they do not fall behind.


Summative Assessment

Although colour coded words are used as a visual representation to support learning and retention of GPC through the Monster Phonics SSP, assessments must be completed in black and white font  to show that children have applied their skills. Retrieval practice forms part of every lesson, with children revisiting previously taught sounds and these should again be assessed using the black font.

At the end of every term, teachers should assess children’s recall and understanding of the graphemes and phonemes taught so far by assessing children’s grapheme recognition using grapheme cards. Teachers should also assess children’s application of graphemes taught by assessing children on reading real words with these graphemes.  These should be recorded on the River school grapheme-phoneme correspondence grid and kept in the class progress folder to support tracking of all children and inform future planning.


Common Exception Words

The River Primary School common exception words reading progression document outlines the order and expectations for teaching common exception words from Foundation to Year 2. These include the first hundred high frequency words, Year 1 common exception words and Year 2 common exception words. Key words which are the ‘exceptions’ should be taught with an explanation as to why they are the ‘exceptions’.  High frequency words which can be ‘sounded out’ are not included within this list but should be taught within phonics lessons.


Links with parents

At parents consultations, information is given to individual parents about their children’s phonics learning and key graphemes or words the children are working on. As part of home learning, key graphemes or common exception words are sent home for parents to practice with children. A reading record note for each band is placed in the front of children’s reading record books and show the key graphemes children are working on within that level so parents know which sounds to practice.  Parent phonics workshops are held in Foundation Stage and Year 1 in the Autumn term.