At Istead Rise Primary School we believe that the teaching of phonics is key to the development of good reading and writing skills. We are passionate about ensuring children become independent, confident, readers and writers and believe that teaching phonics not only holds the key for children to access all subjects in the curriculum, but also raises children’s self-esteem and provides opportunities for their future. 

Read Write Inc ~ Phonics Scheme 

From Early Years until the end of Key Stage 1 we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme. We also use it as 1:1 support and small group work for those children in Key Stage 2 who need a more targeted approach.  

In reading RWI supports children to: 

  • Learn that sounds are represented by written letters – to practise the sounds and how to pronounce them accurately please click on the link in the parent handouts
  • Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts 
  • Learn to read words using Fred Talk and sound blending
  • Read lively stories competently, featuring words they have learned to sound out
  • Learn to show that they comprehend stories by answering questions and following ‘find it’ and ‘prove it’ prompts 

In writing RWI supports children to: 

  • Learn to write the letters/letter groups which represent 44 sounds, using a helpful handwriting phrase.
  • Learn to write words by saying the sounds using 'Fred Fingers.' 

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) 

In EYFS, the children have daily phonics sessions of 30 minutes. They are introduced to the RWI Set 1 sounds (phonemes) and learn how to recognise every letter (grapheme) before matching it to its sound. With the use of rhymes children learn how to form letters correctly and learn how to read phonemes in words by blending them (putting them together). At school we use a puppet called Fred who is an expert in sounding out words and we call this ‘Fred Talk’ e.g. m-o-p, c-a-t, d-o-g. We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that the children blend correctly. The children are also taught to recognise sight words which are often referred to as 'red' words. We regularly assess the children on their phonics and encourage them to move between groups, according to their abilities. 
Please note that the children in EYFS are initially taught as a whole class for approximately 6 weeks before moving into smaller, focused groups. 
Key Stage 1 

In Year 1, the children have daily one-hour small group sessions. Each session comprises of 30 minutes of phonics and 30 minutes of reading and writing activities. The children revisit Set 1 sounds, to consolidate prior learning, and learn Set 2 (long vowel sounds) and Set 3 speed sounds. Set 2 speed sounds are made up of two letters (digraphs) or three letters (trigraphs) which represent just one sound. When learning their Set 3 speed sounds the children are taught that there are more ways in which the same sounds are written, e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea. In addition to learning speed sounds, the children are also taught to recognise common high frequency words and 'red' words, as well as being able to spell them.  
The teaching and learning of phonics is consolidated during English lessons and Guided Reading sessions to ensure that children use phonics as the route to decoding unfamiliar words.  All teachers integrate phonics teaching throughout the day highlighting new or familiar sounds as the children come across them. Every classroom has a sound chart displayed with different spelling rules to aid children in their daily learning. 


Year 1 Phonics Screening 

The Year 1 phonics screening check is taken individually every June by all children in Year 1. It is a short assessment that confirms whether children have learnt phonic decoding at an appropriate standard. During the course of the academic year, the children regularly undertake Mock Phonics Screening tests. These tests are used to give both teachers and parents information on how their child is progressing in phonics. For children who did not pass the phonics check by the end of year 1, interventions are in place to support them for when they re-sit the test in Year 2. We ensure that any child who has not passed the phonics check by the end of Key Stage 1 has further phonics teaching in Key Stage 2.  If you would like to know more about how we teach phonics or how to pronounce the different sounds, please make an appointment to speak to your child’s class teacher who would be happy to help with this.  

Useful websites

Read Write Inc.Oxford Primary Website
Ruth Miskin.Sound pronounciation 


To find out more information about phonics, please click the links below.