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At St. Leos and Southmead we aim for all 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 your child read and spell
  • 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 St. Leos and Southmead we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to teach reading and spelling in Early Years and Key Stage One. We have chosen Read, Write, Inc because we want our children to learn to read as quickly as possible and then read widely and become lifelong readers. We have put together a guide to how the RWI programme works together with some useful links.

Mrs McGuinness is our Read Write Inc Lead Teacher, so if you have any questions about RWI, contact school who can refer you to her. Please take the time to read the information as it will provide you with lots of information about ways in which you can help and support your child with their reading and 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 aged4-7. However at St Leos and Southmead we begin the programme in Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support in their reading.

How will RWI be taught?

We start teaching the programme in Early Years and then continue until they have worked their way through the whole reading scheme, usually this is during Years One or Two. We assess all children on the scheme every 6-8 weeks, to ensure they are placed in the perfect group for their reading ability. This allows us to quickly identify any children who need some support to access the learning at the level of the group. This allows complete participation in lessons. Groups are taught by either Teachers or Teaching assistants who have had Read, Write, Inc phonics training; in utilising so many staff, we can ensure groups are kept as small as possible and the teaching the children receive is tailored to their needs. 

Children begin by learning the Set 1 sounds in a specific order. They also begin learning to blend sounds together to make words after learning the first 5 sounds, firstly through practising oral blending. Then, when they can blend independently, they progress on to reading green words.

As soon as children can read green words, they begin to read stories in their Read, Write, Inc sessions. Each storybook is matched to the sounds they can already read, which sets them up for success and helps to build their confidence with reading. It is through these storybooks that we teach children red words, which are irregular words that are not phonetically plausible and cannot be sounded out (Fred talk). Each storybook is taught in the same way, with children practising reading the green words in the story and also the red words, before they begin to read the book. Children will then read the book several times to help build their fluency and comprehension skills.


When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short five minutes sessions.

In Nursery, children 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 planned activities and to promoting the children’s speaking and listening skills. 


In Reception all the children will learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down.

The children:

  • 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-fiction books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • Work well with partners
  • Develop comprehension skills in stories by answering ‘Find it’ and ‘Prove it’ discussion questions


The children:

  • learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
  • learn to write words using Fred Talk
  • learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write

Daily handwriting practise

Children practise correct 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. Please don’t ask children to copy letters or words. We need their attention to be focused on their own formation of letters.  


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,  throughout the day staff help all children to independently read sounds and learn to blend quickly using two highly successful strategies:

1.Fred Talk and through opportunities to play Fred Talk games

  1. Pinny time- Teachers/Teaching assistants have an apron/’pinny’ with pockets containing a set of Speed Sounds Cards. Timetabled 5-minute sessions throughout the day during which target children identified who need to increase their speed practise reading sounds.

Fred Talk+ Speedy Sounds =reading

Speaking like Fred helps children to understand that words are made up of sounds. Teachers and teaching assistants 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.
  • Fred Talk is also used 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.
  • 5-minute Fred Talk game group sessions are held with those children learning to blend.

The following video is an example of blending sounds with Fred.


Year One and Year Two

Children follow the same format as in Reception but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last for 15-20 minutes and are supported by an additional reading session.  

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-to be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.

Children will be taught how to read as follows:

The children learn to say, read and recognise each sound we use to speak in English.

How to say the sounds

Set 1 Stretchy Sounds

Set 1 Bouncy Sounds

Fred Talk

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

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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.

 Step 3:

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.

green words
red words

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.

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.



Phonics screening check Year One

What is the Year 1 phonic screening check?

The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short, light-touch national assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.

It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check in Year 2. This will enable schools to track pupils until they are able to decode.


Our children love their phonics sessions and the quality of their reading and writing shows that they use and implement sounds learnt in their work.


What can I do to help? Is there anything that I shouldn’t do?

  • You will be invited to a meeting so that we can explain how we teach reading. Please come and support your child. We would very much like you to know how to help.
  • Take time to watch the short parent videos under the parents section under the find out more section on Parent guide to Read Write Inc. Phonics | Oxford Owl
  • Your child will bring different sorts of books home from school. It helps if you know whether this is a book that your child can read on their own or whether this is a book that you should read to The teacher will have explained which is which. Please trust your child’s teacher to choose the book(s) that will help your child the most.
  • Help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘push’ the sounds together to make a whole word. Try not to refer to the letters by their names. Help your child to focus on the sounds. You can hear how to say the sounds correctly at this link:
  • Sometimes your child might bring home a picture book that they know well. Please don’t say, ‘This is too easy.’ Instead, encourage your child to tell you the story out loud; ask them questions about things that happen or what they think about some of the characters in the story.
  • We know parents and carers are very busy people. But if you can find time to read to your child as much as possible, it helps him or her to learn about books and stories. They also learn new words and what they mean. Show that you are interested in reading yourself and talk about reading as a family. You can find out about good stories to read to your child here:
  • If you have any questions or would like any further help please either send a message through class dojo to your child’s class teacher or contact the school and ask to speak with Mrs McGuinness the reading leader. 
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