Southill Primary School

"A caring, family school"


At Southill Lower School we teach synthetic phonics following the Twinkl phonics scheme.

Twinkl phonics” is an approved by the DfE phonics teaching scheme. The scheme is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme that provides a structured approach to learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs), perfect for helping children progress from simple sounds recognition to developing more complex knowledge and skills needed for reading and writing. Twinkl phonics has been developed to help children learn to decode with confidence. 

Reading is a complex skill and it is proven that phonics decoding strategies taught systematically give the children the best chance of being able to read from an early age.  Our Nursery and Reception children all learn phonics from the start of their schooling and all pupils across the school are encouraged to take home a range of decodable texts. Year 1 and 2 continue with phonics moving from decoding simpler words to those with multiple syllables. All phonics texts are linked to the sounds they are learning (or have previously learned) and should be re-read multiple times to help the child embed the learning in their long term memories.

We don't teach to a test, but the government has introduced a Phonics Screen Check (PSC) which is carried out at the end of Year 1 and which gives the teachers and school a good indication of the decoding ability of each pupil.  We use this to ensure that our children move on up the school being able to decode with confidence and to match texts to their ability so they learn to read for pleasure. 

What Are Phonics Levels?

Levels are the way the Twinkl Phonics scheme is broken down to teach sounds in a certain order.

At the same time whole words that cannot be broken down easily, (we call “tricky words”) are taught to the children.


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Level One

(Nursery/Reception- up to 36 weeks)

Activities are divided into seven aspects:

Aspect 1- environmental sounds,

Aspect 2- instrumental sounds,

Aspect 3- body percussion,

Aspect 4- rhythm and rhyme,

Aspect 5- alliteration,

Aspect 6- voice sounds

Aspect 7- oral blending and segmenting.

Level Two

(Reception) up to 8 weeks


*Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each.

*Blending sounds together to make words.

*Segmenting words into their separate sounds.

* Beginning to read simple words and captions.


Level Three

(Reception) up to 12 weeks

 *The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each.

*Digraphs and trigraphs

*Reading captions, sentences and questions.

Level Four

(Reception) 5 to 6 weeks

Children learn to blend and segment longer words with:

* adjacent consonants (CVCC and CCVC words) including level 3 digraphs and trigraphs,

*digraphs and trigraphs without adjacent consonants,

* three letter adjacent consonants

*two-syllable words

Level Five

(Throughout Year 1)


 Alternative phonics sounds- children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Level Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling rules and patterns, including:

* alternative sounds

* prefixes and suffixes

* doubling and dropping letters, 

Rhino Readers and Twinkl Phonics

Rhino Readers is an exciting, Twinkl original collection of engaging fully-decodable books, perfectly aligned with Twinkl Phonics. The stories in Rhino books reflect the world in which we live and promote diversity. Moreover the scheme has it all -fiction, non-fiction, poetry, quizzes and fabulous illustrations! The Rhino Readers collection covers levels from level 2 to level 6.

What are “Tricky words”?

Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. It should be noted that, when teaching these words, it is important to always start with sounds already known in the word, then focus on the 'tricky' part.

What are High Frequency words?

High frequency (common) are words that recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write.

What do the Phonics terms mean?

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t,  sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.

Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound, e.g. sh, igh, t.

Digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee, ph, oa.

Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.

Trigraph:  three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in light, ear as in heard, tch as in watch.

Segmentation: means hearing the individual phonemes within a word – for instance the word ‘crash’ consists of four phonemes: ‘c – r – a – sh’. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to represent each phoneme.

Blending: means merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (‘sound out’) each grapheme, not each letter (e.g. ‘th-i-n’ not ‘t-h-i-n’), and then merge the phonemes together to make the word.

Mnemonics: a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a hand action of a drill to remember the phoneme /d/.

Adjacent consonants:  two or three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together e.g. str, cr, tr, gr. (previously consonant clusters).

CVCC words: consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant word e.g. palm.

CCVC words: consonant, consonant, vowel consonant words e.g. stop.

Comprehension:  understanding of language whether it is spoken or written.