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Read Write Inc

Phonics at Prince Rock


“The best primary schools in England teach virtually every child to read, regardless of the social and economic circumstances of their neighbourhoods, the ethnicity of their pupils, the language spoken at home and most special educational needs or disabilities. A sample of 12 of these schools finds that their success is based on a determination that every child will learn to read, together with a very rigorous and sequential approach to developing speaking and listening and teaching reading, writing and spelling through systematic phonics. This approach is applied with a high degree of consistency and sustained.”

Ofsted: Reading by Six. 2012



At Prince Rock Primary School, we believe reading is at the heart of a child’s education and journey through the primary phase. With this in mind, we have designed a high quality, robust and systematic approach to the teaching of phonics. The core principles of our phonics programme stem from RWI. Our high-quality phonics teaching helps children develop their reading, writing, spelling and general communication skills. It also helps secure the crucial skills of word recognition that enables children to read fluently. This approach ensures all children and their abilities are targeted and supported as they begin their reading journey at Prince Rock.



  • To teach children aural discrimination, phonemic awareness and rhyme awareness to support in the application of reading and writing.
  • To encourage repetition and consolidation, so that decoding and the skills of segmenting and blending are automatic and aid reading fluidity. 
  • To learn to read and write all 44 graphemes in the English language.
  • To learn specific strategies to help them remember common exception words.
  • To apply their phonic knowledge across all curriculum areas.



What is Read Write Inc?
When teaching your child to read, we never use letter names at this early stage.  Many schools use different phonics schemes to teach children to read; however, at Prince Rock, we believe Read Write Inc Phonics is the best scheme to support your child with their early reading.  Your child will be assessed and grouped according to their phonics ability, working in small groups with a teacher or teaching assistant.  


Speed Sounds
When teaching your child phonics, we will use the term 'speed sounds',  these are individual sounds which your child will learn how to read quickly and effortlessly as they progress through Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Your child will be regularly assessed to ensure they are reaching their full potential and will receive additional booster sessions if appropriate.  


Your child will learn a new sound every day accompanied by a handwriting rhyme which helps them to remember how to form the letter shape when writing it. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in speech, this may be one letter, or a group of two or three letters which make one sound. For example, if your child was learning the phoneme (sound) ‘a’, they would also learn the rhyme ’round the apple and down the leaf’ when they start to write their letter.  In set 1, your child will learn 44 phonemes.

Parent Video: How to say the sounds


As your child learns each sound (phoneme), they are taught how to blend the sounds together to make two and three letters words (CVC words - consonant, vowel, consonant - such as the word dog).  Your child will learn how to read real and nonsense words.



Green Words
Alongside this, your child will start to read 'green' words.  'Green' words are words which can be sounded out and blended like ‘dog’, ‘cat’.  





Red Words
Having gained confidence sounding out green words, your child will be taught about ‘red' words.  These words are tricky words, words which can’t be sounded out phonetically. These include words such as: ‘to’ and ‘go’.  They will also learn why these words are tricky and cannot be sounded out. As your child progresses through Reception and KS1 (Year 1 and Year 2), they will learn these 'red' words by sight.


Red Ditties
As your child gains confidence reading individual words, they will move onto reading sentences, then onto 'ditties'. The Red Ditty books provide a bridge between your child reading simple words/sentences and reading short stories.  Watch the video below on how to support your child with their reading book.


Parent Video: Red Ditty Books


Digraphs and Trigraphs
When the children have learnt the single sounds they begin to move on to two and three letter sounds these are called digraphs (2 letters making 1 sound like ‘ea’  in the word tea) and trigraphs (3 letters making 1 sound like ‘igh’ in the word light). Set 1 sounds include the digraphs 'ch', 'sh', 'th', 'ng, 'nk, and 'qu'.

Parent Video: Reading the digraphs with your child


Parent Video: Reading the Set 3 sounds and words with your child


Fred Talk
At school we use a puppet called Fred who can only speak in sounds, not whole words. We call this Fred Talk. For example, Fred would say d-o-g, we would say dog. Your child is taught to hear sounds and blend them together in sequence to make a word.


Fred Fingers
Fred Fingers are used for spelling. Your child is taught to sound out the word they are spelling and put up the correct number of fingers for the sounds they can hear in that word. For example: m-ee-t = 3 sounds = 3 fingers. When your child starts to write words, they will be taught to use their 'Fred Fingers':

Say the word.

  • Hold up correct number of Fred Fingers.
  • Palm facing you.
  • Say the word again.
  • Pinch the sounds. (Gently pinch each finger as you say the sound.)
  • Write the sounds.
  • Add sound buttons/dashes.


Sound Buttons and Dashes
Sound buttons are circles or spots that can be written underneath a sound to support reading.  Your child will be taught to say the sound aloud as they touch the sound button. If reading a diagraph (two letters making one sound) or trigraph (three letters making one sound), your child will know that this sound is represented by a dash underneath the letters which make the sound. See above in the word play, 'ay' is a diagraph, so has the dash underneath.


Fred in your head
Your child's teacher will hold up a green word (close to their chest), giving your child time to mime the sounds, and will then push the word forward as a signal  for your child to say the whole word (as opposed to blending individual sounds).  This will be repeated over a period of time, until your child can say the word straight away. Your child will start off initially mouthing the sounds silently and then saying the whole word to saying the whole word straight away.


Your child will start to learn set 1 sounds (and set 2 if they are ready) in Reception. It is important to remember that each child is individual and maybe ready to progress before other children. In Year 1/2, your child will continue to progress through set 1,2 and/or 3 as appropriate. 



Phonics Screening Check
In Year one, your child will have a Government Led, phonics screening check, this is normally held around June.  The purpose of the check is to confirm whether individual children have learnt decoding and blending skills to meet an age-appropriate standard.  The phonics screening contains 40 words and your child will work one-to-one with the teacher, reading words out aloud. There will be a combination of real words and nonsense words.


There is not a set time limit to complete the screening in but it usually takes around 5-10 minutes. If your child's teacher thinks it would be appropriate, your child can have a break or stop if they are struggling. If your child does not meet the pass mark they will have to retake the screening test in Year 2. (You will be informed on their end of year school report on this.)


By the end of Year 1, it is expected that children are able to recognise the grapheme-phoneme correspondences, segment and blend them confidently in words. For the past few years the expected pass mark has been 32 out of 40.

Parent Video: The Phonics Screening Check


Here are some tips to help children of all ages to enjoy reading and to get reading more often.

  1. Take breaks while reading
  2. Build reading into your child's daily routine. 
  3. Encourage your child to follow their interests. 
  4. Use technology together. 
  5. Encourage your child to be the author, retell or make up stories.
  6. Have a chat.

Listening to your child reading is important. However, your child hearing your read or tell a story is just as important. This will support them to develop new vocabulary, learn how to use expression in their voice. Encourage your child to decode the sounds e.g. segmenting or drawing on sound buttons. When you are out and about read signs around you. Practise speed reading the sounds your child has been learning in school.  


My child won’t read, no matter what I do. How can I help? 

  • Read to your child as much as possible
  • Talk to your child’s class teacher - working together will help


Useful websites:


Oxford Owl Press


Read Write Inc

Read Write Inc Sounds


Useful terminology:

blend –  to draw individual sounds together to pronounce a word, e.g. s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap.

digraph – A digraph is a single sound, or phoneme, which is represented by two letters like ‘ow’ as in  ‘s-n-ow’ reading ‘snow’.

grapheme – A grapheme is a letter or a number of letters which represent a sound (phoneme) in a word.

grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC) – the relationship between sounds and the letters which represent those sounds; also known as ‘letter-sound correspondences’.  This means that your child will be able to recognise and/or identify the written form of a letter when listening to the sound.

phoneme – A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in speech, this may be one letter, or a group of two or three letters which make one sound. 

segment – to split up a word into its individual phonemes (sounds) in order to spell it, e.g. the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes: c – a – t, 

sound buttons – the number of phonemes (sounds) in a word, your child will be encouraged to draw a dot under a single letter to denote the number of sounds, if it is a digraph they will underline both sounds instead of drawing a dot. For example ai in snail.

 split digraph – two letters (consonants), split by another letter (vowel), but which make one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site. 

trigraph –  A trigraph is a phoneme which consists of three letters like ‘air’ a


Early Reading & Phonics Rationale 

Intent of Phonics

At Prince Rock, we follow a systematic phonics programme which is Read Write Inc. All children in YR and Y1 complete daily phonics in order to develop their early reading. Children in Y2, who did not pass the phonics screening, will complete daily phonics intervention to address their specific needs.


Children are grouped according to their RWI knowledge (based on baseline and three subsequent assessment points throughout the year) as well as phonic screening. Analysis of the data by the English leads ensures groups are reviewed regularly and intervention is provided. Groups are led by trained members of staff who also receive fortnightly coaching and monitoring. The Read Write Inc. programmes have detailed lesson plans and each group has specific plans which cater for their developing needs. Each group prepares their resources carefully to ensure consolidation opportunities and progression through the acquisition of new knowledge. Those working in the bottom 20% have scheduled interventions each day and those who have struggled with the learning that day receive responsive interventions. This is to ensure they do not fall behind their peers. All the pupils are engaged, with a positive impact on their behaviour.


In phonics, we focus on:


  • To teach children aural discrimination, phonemic awareness and rhyme awareness to support in the application of reading and writing.
  • To encourage repetition and consolidation, so that decoding and the skills of segmenting and blending are automatic and aid reading fluidity. 
  • To learn to read and write all 44 graphemes in the English language.
  • To learn specific strategies to help them remember common exception words.
  • To apply their phonic knowledge across all curriculum areas.


Implementation of Phonics


The school follows a systematic phonics programme which is Read Write Inc. We also use Foundations of Literacy to support the teaching of pre phonics (focusing on aural discrimination, rhyme and other key pre cursors to early reading). We use Cued Articulation within EYFS to support children’s understanding of sounds. All phonics planning and teaching has been adapted to meet the requirements of Statutory Framework of EYFS (2021) and the National Curriculum in order to provide a robust, consistent and high-quality level of provision. Staff within EYFS and Year 1 complete weekly plans for phonics which ensures progression and effective, high quality teaching for all children.



Discrete phonics lessons take place daily across EYFS and Year 1. They follow the structure of ‘Review, Teach, Practice, Apply’ to ensure that children are consolidating phonic knowledge and skills over time and that they are able to apply them in context. These lessons proceed at pace and incorporate a wide range of application tasks to engage, challenge and support all children. Each task is carefully considered to ensure that children continue develop their skills in aural discrimination, phonemic and rhyme awareness, blending and segmenting as well as grapheme phoneme correspondence.



Children are taught in small groups of between 5-15 children (In EYFS, they also learn in whole class group, through adult directed and led activities as well as being supported by adults within Child Initiated Play). They are grouped according to their phonic knowledge which is assessed using RWI assessments. Formative assessment is on-going to take into account the rate at which children progress, with summative (RWI assessments) taking place during each data capture (one every full term).



All groups have a range of resources to use which are appropriate for the level at which the children are working. There are displays in both Reception classrooms, Year 1 classrooms and additional learning environments to support the teaching of phonics.


Phonics Lead and Team

The phonics leader is responsible for phonics throughout the school and includes the following responsibilities:

  • Ensuring continuity and progression from year group to year group.
  • Providing all members of staff with guidelines and a scheme of work to show how aims are achieved and how the variety of all aspects of phonics is to be taught.
  • Advising on in-service training to staff where appropriate. This will be in line with the needs identified in the School Improvement Plan and within the confines of the school budget.
  • Advising and supporting colleagues in the implementation and assessment of phonics throughout the school.
  • Assisting with the requisition and maintenance of resources required for the teaching of phonics, within the confines of the school budget
  • Monitoring the quality of teaching and learning in phonics across the school.
  • Dissemination of information with the English team, SLT and LAT English Lead.


Class Teacher

The class teacher is responsible for:

  • Ensuring progression in the acquisition of phonic knowledge and skills with due regard to the National Curriculum for English
  • Developing and updating skills, knowledge and understanding of phonics
  • Identifying needs in phonics and take advantage of training opportunities
  • Keeping appropriate on-going records
  • Planning effectively for phonics, liaising with phonics leader when necessary
  • Informing pupils and parents of their progress, achievements and attainment


Year R

Word Reading

Following a baseline assessment (RWI, LAT baseline and Reception Baseline Assessment) conducted in the autumn term, Year R children are grouped accordingly and begin their phonics journey based on their current knowledge and skillset. Each child in reception will complete five weekly phonics sessions a week (building up to an hour by the summer term). These lessons will be taught by both trained EYFS teachers and support staff.


Following guidance from Foundations of Literacy, all children will access sessions on developing phonological awareness, rhyming skills and vocabulary/talk opportunities from September each year. They will then learn a sound-a-day and apply this within application tasks linked to both reading and writing. Each group will apply their newly acquired phonic knowledge when reading a RWI book linked to the sound and level. In addition, high frequency words will be taught alongside the delivery of RWI.


Reading Comprehension

The EYFS curriculum at Prince Rock is based around the use of high quality texts to expose children to a wide range of vocabulary. This will link to the whole school reading spine. The vocabulary linked to these texts will be repeated and built upon as the year progresses. This vocabulary knowledge will be developed across the year within the EYFS provision. It will focus on fiction, non-fiction, rhymes, poems and within role play.


Each week, a high-quality text will be the focus for the whole class Literacy lessons. This will incorporate elements of oracy, reading and writing. Within reading, concepts of print will be explicitly taught in conjunction with the children’s emerging phonic knowledge and awareness of high frequency words.  An appropriately selected piece of text will be shared with the children and the development of reading fluency will be encouraged through the use of various reading strategies. This includes: being read to, echo reading, choral reading, shared reading, paired reading, performance reading and independent reading. The key focus is on the development of the children’s early oracy skills and the development of vocabulary and comprehension.


  • Non-Fiction – to support the development of background knowledge of fiction and poetry teaching. These are designed to stimulate the children’s interests and support the wider curriculum.
  • Poetry – Poetry and rhyming texts will form part of the reading spine. Nursery Rhymes and songs will be used across each week to develop their awareness of rhyme, rhythm and repetition.  
  • Fiction – Children will explore a range of high-quality fiction books with an emphasis placed on traditional tales, books that challenge thinking and contemporary texts. Furthermore, the children will explore topic-based books.


Additional Resources

  • Flashcards containing words included in RWI books are given to children at the beginning of a new RWI level, starting with ditties. Flashcards for each level are sent home. A booklet containing all of the flashcards is checked off as a record of known words. At the end of each year, the booklet is passed up to the next teacher as a continuing document.
  • Comprehension sheets specific to each pink, red and yellow reading book are used to support 1:1 readers within school. These sheets include flashcards relevant to the text.
  • High frequency words are taught alongside coloured reading bands and phonics levels.
  • We use ‘Making a Strong Start’ from RWI as guidance for the EYFS.


Progression in EYFS – Minimum Expectations



Know most set 1 sounds and begin to blend (set 1 group b)


Set 1 sounds and blending (set 1 and group c)


Reading photocopy ditties 1-20


Reading red ditty storybooks


Reading green story books

Know some set 2 sounds


Reading green/purple story books

Know most set 2 sounds


Year 1


Using the children’s end of year EYFS data and following the baseline assessment conducted in autumn term, Year 1 children are group accordingly and continue their phonics journey based on their current knowledge and understanding. Each week, each child in Year 1 will complete three 1x hour phonics sessions and two 30x minute phonics sessions. These lessons will be taught by trained teachers and support staff.


Each group will learn a sound-a-day and apply this within application tasks linked to both reading and writing. Each group will apply their newly acquired phonic knowledge when reading a RWI book linked to the sound and level. In addition, high frequency words will be taught alongside the delivery of RWI.

During phonics lessons, children will be taught HFWs that are matched to the phonics reading book they have been exploring for the week. This will enable them to develop their reading fluency. During weekly phonics lessons, the children will be exposed to both fiction and non-fiction texts from the RWI programme.


Progression in Y1 – Minimum Expectations



Reading purple story books

Knows most set 2 sounds


Reading pink story books

Knows all set 2 sounds

Knows some set 3 sounds


Reading orange storybooks

Knows most set 3 sounds


Reading yellow story books

Knows all set 3 sounds


Reading blue story books

Knows all set 3 and some additional sounds


Reading blue/grey books

Knows all sounds

Year 2

As the children move into Year 2, they will continue to be exposed to high quality phonics teaching through the careful incorporation of a phonics review at the beginning of each writing and whole class reading lesson. Furthermore, high-frequency and common exception words will continue to be explored. Year 2 will begin the RWI Spelling programme, which is underpinned by sound and robust phonics knowledge and the children will continue to develop their phonic skills and link this with their reading, spelling and writing.