Derwent Primary School

Derwent Lower School

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At Derwent Primary School we teach phonics following the synthetic phonics programme by Twinkl.

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 help children progress from simple sounds and printed letter correspondence to developing more complex knowledge and skills needed for reading and writing. The school has a vast range of decodable texts closely linked to the phonics learning and lessons in phonics and decoding happen right the way through from our nursery classes through to Year 6 for those pupils who need it.

 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 decoded easily, (we call “tricky words”) are taught to the children. All words are decodable but there are some words which are very common in English and which have an unusual pattern to decode.  It is important children learn to recognise these words as they are essential for early reading. 


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.

In Derwent we are ambitious for phonics to be taught formally as early as possible and we introduce the correspondence between certain letters and the sound which is made when they see it, in the first term in nursery. 

Level Two

(Nursery and 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 into KS2)

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 original collection of engaging fully-decodable books, perfectly aligned with the Phonics which the children are currently learning. The stories in these books reflect the world in which we live and promote diversity. In addition, we do have a wide range of other decodable books, some of which contain words which children have not yet been introduced to. These can be read at home with an adult supporting words which children cannot yet decode. 

What are “Tricky words”?

Tricky words are words for which the children have not yet learned the code. 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.