What is Phonics? 
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Children are taught how to recognise the sounds each individual letter makes and to identify the sounds that different contributions of letters make such as ‘sh’ and ‘oo’.   Children are taught to read by breaking down words into separate sounds or ‘phonemes’. They are then taught how to blend these sounds together to read the whole word. We use Read, Write Inc. to teach phonics at the academy. 

The phonics screening check 
The National phonics screening check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge.  All year 1 pupils will take the phonics screening check in summer term.

It comprises of a list of 40 words and nonsense words (words that are phonetically decodable but not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb). It will assess phonics skills and knowledge learnt through reception and year 1 where each child is asked to read on a 1:1 basis to an adult familiar to them. They will be asked to ‘sound out’ a word and blend the sounds together. 

The screening check will identify children who have phonic decoding skills below the level expected for the end of year 1 and who therefore need help. 


Read Write Inc.

At Crowle Primary Academy we follow the Read, Write Inc phonics programme. 

What is Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc (RWI) is a phonics based programme which helps children learn to read whilst also developing a wide range of vocabulary and encouraging a love of stories.  It was developed by Ruth Miskin a leading consultant on early reading.  More information can be found at 
Who is Read Write Inc for?

The Read Write Inc programme is for primary school children learning to read and write.  Children will begin the programme in the foundation stage and will remain on the programme throughout year 1.  Children will continue on the programme until they are at the expected reading level for year 2. 
How does it work?

In foundation stage the children are initially taught sound set 1 in their own class. They will be assessed regularly.  When they have reached an appropriate level they are then grouped according to their reading level. Year 1 onwards All children are assessed regularly and are grouped according to their stage, not their age, so that teaching is closely matched to the children’s next steps in learning.  Phonics groups are mixed and are taught by teachers and teaching assistants.  A few children, who need extra support to maintain progress, work with a teacher or teaching assistant for extra sessions each week. 

What does the RWI teaching process look like?  

Children are taught the pure ‘Set 1’ sounds so that they will be able to blend the sounds in words more easily. In school we use ‘Fred Talk’.  We do not use letter names at this stage; we simply focus on the sounds that are used to sound out words.  To view the correct pronunciation of the sounds you can click on the link below.

Sounds pronunciation sets1-3

At this stage, the children are not only taught the sound the letter makes but also how to form the letter, using a rhyme and a picture prompt.

Children use these sounds to sound out words in ‘Fred Talk’.  A character called Fred is introduced.  He talks only in sounds.  Children are asked to interpret what Fred is saying like this:  Fred says ‘m-a-t’, we would say ‘mat’  , Fred says ‘f-r-o-g’, we would say ‘frog’   

Speed sounds Set 1

Once your child knows all their ‘Set 1’ sounds and is able to read real words using ‘Fred Talk’ they will then move into a group where they will begin reading storybooks and completing writing activities to challenge them further.  It is important that children learn to decode new, unfamiliar words in this way. When your child  is secure with set 1 sounds they will then begin to learn ‘Set 2’ sounds. 

Set one sounds


Set Two sounds

Each Set 2 sound has a rhyme to accompany it when the sound is taught.  For example the word ‘play’ cannot be sounded out as single letter sounds.  The word contains the ‘ay’ sounds where one sound is created by the two letters.  This is know as ‘special friends’ which is two letters- one sound. The word containing the ‘ay’ sound so will be sounded out as p-l-ay. Other examples for this sounds include: tray= t-r-ay Sunday= S-u-n-d-ay 


Another example is 

 Set three Sounds:

Your child will then move onto set 3 sounds.  The set three sounds are shown in pink.

The sound that you hear in these words is the same, but it is written using a different letter pattern. 


From this table you can see that for one spoken sound (phoneme) such as ‘ay’ there can be a number of ways of writing this sound (grapheme). For example: Play= p-l-ay Snail= s-n-ai-l cake= c-a k e. The sound that you hear in these words is the same, but it is written using a different letter pattern

What are Red Words?

These are words that are unable to be sounded out as they are irregular.  Children simply have to learn to recognise, read and spell these words as they cannot be sounded using any sort of phonics strategy. 
Examples of red words

In summary how and what do children learn?


Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using picture prompts

Learn to read words by blending letter sounds

Read lively stories featuring words they have learnt to sound out

After discussion about the story they demonstrate their understanding by answering questions


Learn the write the letter/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds 

Learn to write words by saying the sound and the graphemes

Learn to build sentences orally using adventurous vocabulary

Start with simple sentences and develop towards more complex ones by the end of the programme

Compose a range of texts using discussion prompts


During the programme there is lots of opportunity for children to work collaboratively where they take turns in practising activities and rehearsing responses


How can I help my child at home? 

Establish a routine to include regular reading throughout the week

Have fun with ‘Fred Talk’ at home eg Where is your c-oa-t? Time for b-e-d!

Encourage your child to ‘Fred Talk’ or ‘sound out’ any unfamiliar words.

Read as many stories to your child as you can -Traditional tales, stories from other cultures, poetry, their favourite story– talk about stories with them

Explain the meaning of new words


Further Information Read Write Inc Website: 
Below are links to useful videos to help you to support your child with reading. 

Read, Write, Inc phonics

Understanding phonics

Sounds pronunciation sets1-3

Parental support on how to teach set one sounds

Independently blending

Two letters make one sound - digraphs

Teaching blending


If you have any questions please contact your child's class teacher or our English lead, Mrs Wilson for further advice.



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