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Phonics at Underwood West Academy

At Underwood West Academy, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident, enthusiastic and independent readers and writers. We aim to create a love of reading, writing, and spelling through consistent, high quality teaching of Phonics. Good quality phonics teaching allows children to be secure in the skills of word recognition, decoding and spelling which allows children to read and write with confidence and fluency. We ensure that phonic skills are taught systematically and our teaching involves a range of resources that engage and inspire.

We teach phonics and early reading through Monster Phonics which is a DFE validated Synthetic programme. The programme ensures that phonics teaching is multi-sensory, fun and engaging. It is a whole class scheme which builds a clear progression of phonic skills and knowledge which are reinforced across all year groups.

Phonics sessions are taught daily across EYFS and KS1 and where appropriate, KS2.

The structure of our phonics programme

Monster Phonics uses a unique colour-coded grapheme system to promote understanding and enables children to become confident, independent learners. Colour -coding makes phonics learning more memorable. It helps children to learn and recall spelling by colour. Each sound and colour are represented by a monster. Each monster is a different colour and this colour represents that way of spelling a sound.

Follow the link to meet the monsters.

Children learn through games, songs and activities that bring phonics to life and makes Monster Phonics highly engaging. Colour coded flashcards, word charts, magnetic letters and power points make the teaching of sounds, high frequency words and common exception words much easier. These resources are used to ensure the structure is constantly seen, heard and experienced by each child.

Watch the video which introduces Monster Phonics:

Throughout the phonics programme, children are taught to recognise the sounds in words (phonemes) and the letters or groups of letters that make the sounds (graphemes). They learn to segment words (break them up into the sounds they make) and blend words (merge the sounds back together). Children use this knowledge to support them to read real and nonsense (alien) words.



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Reading books

Monster Phonics provides a structured, sequential programme of decodable reading books that are carefully matched to the sounds the children have learned. By matching the children’s phonic knowledge to the books, children develop confidence and fluency right from the beginning of learning to read. Children have the opportunity to read these easy and exciting books in school and have access to the e-books at home.


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How we implement Monster Phonics

Phonics is taught daily in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 during a whole class, 25-minute session.

The structure of each lesson enables all aspects of blending and segmenting graphemes and phonemes to be taught alongside the teaching of high frequency words and common exception words. Each session follows the cycle of Assess, Teach, Practise and Apply to ensure that children are consolidating phonic knowledge and skills over time and that they can apply them in context. This enables links to be made between phonics, reading and writing.

Interactive learning opportunities enable children to develop their skills in aural discrimination (hearing and distinguishing different sounds), awareness of phonemes (sounds) and rhymes, blending and segmenting to read and spell words.

Click on the link below to see the actions for each sound:

In Reception

Children in Reception begin phonics sessions in their 2nd week of school.

Sessions focus on developing children’s listening, vocabulary and speaking skills, including environmental sounds, rhymes and rhythm, oral segmenting and blending of words as part of Phase 1 of the programme. Alongside this, they begin Phase 2 where the children learn the most common single letters and sounds (graphemes and phonemes) and the skills of segmenting and blending these letters. They then move to Phase 3 where the children learn the remaining single letters and sounds, digraphs (2 letters that make 1 sound) and trigraphs (3 letters that make 1 sound).

Towards the end of their Reception year, children move to Phase 4 which consolidates their knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants (such as clap, trip, stamp, black) or polysyllabic words (such as laptop, faster, jumping).

Click on the link for the Reception progression map:


In Year 1

In Year 1, children move to Phase 5

Children learn additional graphemes and alternative pronunciations for graphemes they already know.  They are supported to become quicker at recognising graphemes in order to read a wider range of words and are taught to choose the appropriate graphemes in order to spell more words.

Children continue to learn High Frequency words and Common Exception words in order to develop reading fluency and spelling accuracy.

Click on the link for the Year 1 progression map:


Phonics screening

At the end of Year 1, children undertake a phonics screening test to assess their phonic knowledge. The Phonics Screening Check is to show how well your child can use the phonics skills they’ve learned up to the end of Year 1, and to identify students who need extra phonics help.

The checks consist of 40 words (20 real words, 20 nonsense or alien words) that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with a teacher. Nonsense words are a collection of letters that will follow phonics rules your child has been taught, but don’t mean anything – your child will need to read these with the correct sounds to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them.

Any children not passing the screening test re-take the phonics screening at the end of Year 2.


In Year 2 

In Year 2, children move to Phase 6

The focus is on developing independence, confidence and a fluent approach to reading, spelling and writing. This enables children to read longer and less familiar texts.

Click on the link for the Year 2 progression map:

Any children who did not pass the screening test in Year 1 re-take the phonics screening at the end of Year 2.



Children’s progress through the Monster Phonics programme is regularly assessed.

Any children who are not keeping up with the program receive additional support through targeted intervention. This allows gaps in phonics knowledge to be addressed.

Interventions follow the same structure as the main phonics sessions. They include additional resources and focus on repetitive practice of grapheme – phoneme recognition, letter formation and segmenting and blending.


 Key Stage 2

If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These targeted interventions last 15 minutes and take place at least three times a week.


Home Learning

To support your child with learning at home, you can log on to the Monster Phonics website.

Here is your parent login:


Password: Underwood*2022

There are also a range of free resources for parents available on the website. Follow the links below:


Ideas for learning spellings:



Information about phonics:



Newcastle Street, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1 3LF

Please direct your enquiries to

Mel JamesBursar

01270 260580