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At Huyton with Roby we passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently, as quickly as possible, is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances. We aim to develop the full potential of all our pupils as confident, literate readers and writers. If children are to develop as competent readers and writers, it is vitally important that they have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of the English language. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic way, based on a stage approach. To enable this to take place we use Read Write Inc. Phonics programme (RWI). This programme teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension.

How does it work?

Foundation Stage

Initially children 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.

What does the RWI teaching process look like?

Children are first 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 access the parent guide with the link below. Here you will find a number of video clips demonstrating the correct pronunciation of sounds. Parent guide to Read Write Inc. Phonics | Oxford Owl

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.

Spelling with Fred Fingers

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’. Children are taught to use their fingers to help them write words.  Children will say a word out loud and then break it down into its individual sounds using their fingers.  So, if a word has three sounds in like dog, d-o-g or ship, sh-i-p the child will hold up three fingers.  If the word has four sounds in, the child will hold up four fingers.  The children then ‘pinch’ each finger as they say the sounds they need in the word.  This supports them when writing words as they write a letter that represents each sound.

Speed sounds Set 1

Set 1 sounds are the initial letter sounds. They are taught in the following order.

m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, sh, r, j, v, y, w, th, z, ch, qu, x, ng, nk

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.

Speed Sounds Set 2

Each Set 2 sound has a rhyme to accompany it when the sound is taught. For example the word snow cannot be sounded out as single letter sounds. The word contains the ‘ow’ sounds where one sound is created by the two letters. This is known as ‘special friends’ which is two letters – one sound. The word containing the ‘ow’ sound so will be sounded out as s-n-ow. Other examples for this sounds include: know= k-n-ow blow= b-l-ow.

To see the complete set of rhymes that accompany each sound see the resources at the end of the page.

Set 3 Sounds

Your child will then move onto set 3 sounds. When learning their Set 3 speed sounds they will be taught that there are more ways in which the same sounds are written, e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea. The set 3 sounds are shown in green

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.

An example of a set 3 sound card.

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:






















Nonsense Words/Alien Words

As children develop their skills, we want them to be able to apply their knowledge of sounds and decoding skills to read any unfamiliar word, whether it is real or nonsense.  During lessons, children will have opportunities to practice their decoding skills by sounding out the letters in ‘Alien word’.  This shows us that children are using their decoding skills and not relying on existing knowledge of real words.  This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Test which children complete at the end of Year 1.


Children are regularly assessed and changed accordingly into groups to support their learning and development.  If children are not progressing at the expected level, they are targeted through the RWI intervention so they catch up quickly. 

Phonics Screen Check

In Key Stage 1, children are assessed at the end of Year 1 using a Government Statutory Assessment Tool known as the Phonics Screening Check (This will take place during the week commencing Monday 6th June 2022).  This screening check, demonstrates if your child has learnt phonics and can use their skills to decode words to an appropriate standard.

Home Reading

Your child’s home reading book has been matched carefully to the phonics stage they are being taught. They will not be expected to read any stories that contain sounds that have not learnt. It is essential that your child reads these texts daily to support them in their journey to becoming a fluent and enthusiastic reader. Our current reading scheme has been recently renewed with new material from Rising Stars Reading Plant. If you would like to find out more or access some free parent resources follow the link below: eBooks For School And Home – Reading Planet Online ( 

You child will also be given access to the Reading Planet Online eBook library service. Children can read a large range of interactive, colourful eBooks, as well as completing quizzes and gaining rewards for regular reading practice. IT IS an ideal resource to boost your child’s reading skills and keep them engaged with reading. Your child’s class teacher will contact you via class dojo with your account information.

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 e.g. 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.
  • Read daily with your children.
  • Fill in the parent comments in your child’s reading diary to keep us informed of how reading is going at home.
  • Here are some websites that have some interactive games your child can play to practice their skills
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