At Owston Park Primary we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading.
Children who read regularly or are read to regularly have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds! More importantly, reading will give your child the tools to become independent life-long learners.
We can achieve this together through:
- Read Write Inc, a program to help to your child read at school
- Encouraging children to develop a love of books by reading to them daily, at home and at school
- Giving children access to a wide range of books at school and at home
At Owston Park Primary we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their literacy. We have put together a guide to how the RWI programme works together with some useful links.
If you have questions about RWI, please contact school and you will be referred to a member of staff who can help you. Please take the time to read the information as it will provide invaluable information as to how you can help and support your child in reading.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:
- Recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
- Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters (Special friends) make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
- Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ (Fred Talk) new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way - starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex - it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged five to seven.
Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment. Children will also become confident phonetic spellers. This will then lead into teaching the children different spelling rules to help develop more accurate spelling.
What is Read Write Inc?
Read Write Inc (RWI) is a phonics complete literacy programme which helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. The programme is designed for children aged 4-7. However, at Owston we begin the programme in Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still require support in their reading.
RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at
How will RWI be taught?
All children are assessed regularly by our RWI teachers so they work with children at the same level. This allows complete participation in lessons.
Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:
Purpose – know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about
Participation – ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning
Praise – ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability
Pace – teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning
Passion – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.
When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short sessions.
In nursery, children are introduced to Phase 1 of the Letters and Sounds programme. Phase 1 supports the development of speaking and listening and awareness of sounds. Children working within Phase 1 will;
- Explore and experiment with sounds and words.
- Distinguish between sounds in the environment and phonemes.
- Show awareness of rhyme and alliteration.
They will play a variety of games and activities with the children and music has a key part in developing children’s language. Adult led activities involve modelling speaking and listening, ‘Fred talk’ to model how to blend (Can you get your c-oa-t?), interact and talk with the children is critical to the success of Phase 1 activities and to promoting the children’s speaking and listening skills. We also expose children to letters that are familiar to them i.e. their name.
In Spring term they continue to explore sounds but some move onto 'RWI for Nursery Children' where they explore making words with the letters they have learnt. All sessions are short, focused and of course fun! Children are split into groups and parents are informed on their development.
In Reception children have a daily phonics session with their class teacher or TA using the Read, Write Inc. programme. Children are grouped according to their reading stage. Again these sessions are fast paced, fun and focused. Parents are invited in to watch phonics being taught and get involved with some games.
In Reception all children will learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down.
- learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts – see below
- learn to read words using Fred talk and sound blending
- read from a range of storybooks and non-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
- work well with partners
- develop comprehension skills in stories by answering 'Find It' and 'Prove It' discussion questions
- learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
- learn to write words by using Fred Talk
- learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write
Daily handwriting practice
Children practise correct cursive letter formation as part of their daily Speed Sounds Lesson. We use the mnemonics to help children visualise the letter before they write it down. In the ‘Write the letters’ activity in the lesson, children practise saying the handwriting phrase and the sound as they form the letter in the air and then write the sound on paper. Children need to practise handwriting under the guidance of a teacher so they do not develop habits that will be difficult to undo later. When writing at home, please encourage your child to use the letter formation they have been practising at school.
The children work in pairs so that they:
- answer every question
- practise every activity with their partner
- take turns in talking and reading to each other
- develop ambitious vocabulary
Read Write Inc. Phonics through the day: Fred Talk and pinny time
The teaching of sounds is kept to the phonics lessons to let children enjoy the integrity of each experience. However, there are two important things to do throughout the day to help teach all children to read sounds and learn to blend quickly:
1. Use Fred Talk and play Fred Talk games
2. Pinny time.
Fred Talk + Speedy Sounds = reading
Fred Talk and Fred Talk games
Speaking like Fred helps children to understand that words are made up of sounds. Teachers and teaching assistants will use Fred Talk throughout the day to help children practise blending sounds together. Fred Talk follows a consistent routine:
1. Say the word in sounds as Fred, e.g. c-a-t. Ask children to repeat. Pause to allow children to ‘jump-in’ with the whole word.
2. Say the word in sounds followed by the whole word, e.g. c-a-t, cat. Ask children to repeat.
• Use Fred Talk for single-syllable words at the end of sentences throughout the day e.g. it is time for l-u-n-ch…lunch, come and sit on the f-l-oor…floor.
• Fred Talk words at the end of the sentence and keep the words short and simple.
Pinny time helps children to practise reading the sounds taught so far speedily and to make sure children ‘keep up, not catch up’.
• Each teacher/TA should has their own apron or ‘pinny’ with pockets containing a set of Speed Sounds Cards.
• 5-minute pinny time sessions are timetabled throughout the day. Children who need to increase their speed are targetted.
• ‘Speed minute’ sessions throughout the day when a bell rings. How many sounds the group of children can read in one minute?
• Pinny time can take place before break, while waiting for the midday supervisors, waiting to go into assembly or as children go home.
Children continue with the Read, Write Inc. programme but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last for 45 minutes and is supported by an additional reading session. We understand that children move at a different pace so we have carefully planned intervention groups with our excellent TAs. They are assessed regularly and regrouped according to their reading stage. A meeting is held to explain the Phonics Screening test to parents in Spring term. The phonics screening check is in June of year 1.
Children who still require Read, Write Inc. will stay on the programme. The children who did not pass the Phonics Screening Check will get the chance to take it again in June.
After Year 2
Some children may still need support with their reading, writing and confidence in this area. Teachers communicate the children’s needs and parents are informed on progress. Children are supported differently in class depending on their needs.
Children will be taught how to read as follows:
Before you start to teach your child, practise saying the sounds below.These are the sounds we use to speak in English.
We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily.
At school we use a puppet called Fred who is an expert on sounding out words! we call it, ‘Fred Talk’. E.g. m-o-p, c-a-t, m-a-n, sh-o-p, b-l-a-ck.
The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets.
Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending. Please do not use letter names at this early stage. Children will also use pictures for each sound to help recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound.
The children are then taught Set 2 Sounds - the long vowels. When they are very confident with all of set 1 and 2 they are taught Set 3 Sounds.
Nonsense words (Alien words)
As well as learning to read and blend real words children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term.
Children will be introduced to ‘Ditty books’ when they successfully begin to read single words. The short vowels should be kept short and sharp:
Children use sound-blending (Fred Talk) to read short ditties. They will bring these home once they have read and discussed the book in class. Children will then be challenged to use their developing phonic knowledge to write short sentences.
Within all the books children will have red and green words to learn to help them to become speedy readers. Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.
Dots and dashes represent the sound each letter makes.
Once your child has been introduced and taught these words in school we will send them home for you to continue practising with your child.
During the RWI session children will read the book three times and at each new reading they will have plenty of opportunities to practise using their developing comprehension skills.
Progression through the scheme
Reception Minimum Expectations for Expected progress
Know most set 1 sounds and begin to blend
Know set 1 sounds and blending
Reading Photocopy Ditties
Reading Red Ditties
Reading Green Storybooks
Reading Purple Storybooks
Year 1 Minimum Expectations for Expected progress
Reading Green/Purple Storybooks
Reading Pink Storybooks
Reading Orange Storybooks
Reading Yellow Storybooks
Reading Yellow Storybooks
Reading Blue Storybooks
Phonics Screening Test
At the end of Year 1 children are assessed using the National Phonics Screening Test and this is repeated for those who did not achieve the appropriate level at the end of Year 2. This assessment gathers information on the children’s ability to blend and segment decodable words to read.
The children sit with the English Lead on a one to one basis in a relaxed environment and read 40 decodable words. If a child reads a word incorrectly, the teacher will just move onto the next word. Some words are real words and some are ‘alien’ words. Below is a sample of 2 test pages. The test is very child friendly and is a great assessment tool for teachers.
Useful websites for Parents
Please find a list of websites that you may find useful in helping you and your child learn about phonics. Games and fun activity websites are also included.
http://jollylearning.co.uk/ - games and information for parents
http://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ - fun games for the children to play
http://www.ictgames.com/literacy.html - fun games for the children to play
http://www.starfall.com/ - fun games for the children to play
http://www.firstschoolyears.com/ - fun games for the children to play