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Phonics Learning Journey

At Holmer CofE Academy, we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their reading and writing skills.  RWInc is a method of learning centred around letter sounds and phonics.  We use the programme to aid children in their reading and writing.

Reading opens the door to learning.  A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material.  A child who reads challenging material is a child who will learn.  The more a child learns, the more he or she will want to find out.

Using RWInc, the children learn to read effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read.  It also aids their ability to spell words so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.

When using RWInc to read, the children will:

  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter / letter groups using simple picture prompts;
  • learn to read words using Fred Talk;
  • read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out;
  • show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions. 

When using RWInc to write, the children will:

  • learn to write the letters / letter groups which represent 44 sounds;
  • learn to write words by saying the sounds in Fred Talk;
  • write simple sentences.


This video, taken from the Ruth Miskin website, explains the scheme in more detail:

Parent video: What is Read Write Inc Phonics?

Parent video: What is Read Write Inc Phonics - Bing video

Teaching phonics at Holmer CofE Academy


We start teaching the programme in your child’s Reception year and then continue until they have worked their way through the whole reading scheme, which is usually during Year 1 and Year 2.  We assess all children on the scheme every 6-8 weeks, to ensure that they are placed in the perfect group for their reading ability.  This also allows us to quickly identify any children who need some support to access the learning at the level of the group. If this arises, we provide one-to-one tutoring for the child in accordance with the Read Write Inc scheme, to help them make rapid progress and, once again, be at the level of their group.  Groups are taught by either teachers or TAs who have had Read Write Inc phonics training; in utilising so many staff, we can ensure that groups are kept as small as possible and that the teaching the children receive is tailored to their needs. 


Children begin by learning the Set 1 Sounds in a specific order.  After learning the first 5 sounds, the children begin to blend sounds together to make words.  Then, as soon as they can blend independently, the children will 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 and red words in the story, before they begin to read the book.  Children will then read the book several times to help build their fluency and comprehension skills. 


Types of Sounds


Pure Sounds:

When teaching the speed sounds, it is very important that you do not add an intrusive ‘uh’ to the end of the consonant sound.  Try to pronounce them as pure sounds: ‘mmmm’ not ‘muh’; ‘ffff’ not ‘fuh’ and ‘llll’ not ‘luh’


Bouncy and Stretchy Sounds:

To help your child remember his or her sounds, we say that some sounds make a stretchy sound and some make a bouncy sound.


Stretchy Sounds are said in one continuous sound, e.g. mmmmmmmm as in mountain. 

Bouncy Sounds are said with a short, sharp gap in between, e.g. d-d-d as in d-d-d-dinosaur.


Sound Blends:

Your child is ready to sound blend once they have learned the first set of sounds and can say these in and out of order.  In school, we call blending and segmenting 'Fred Talk'.  Children may use their 'Fred Fingers' to do this!

Parent video: How to say the sounds - Bing video

Parent video: Reading the digraphs with your child - Bing video

Parent video: Reading the bouncy sounds with your child - Bing video


Red and Green Words:


Red words are those words which contain spelling patterns that cannot be sounded out.  Some of the most frequently used words in the English Language have an uncommon spelling pattern and don’t sound like they look, for example, 'said' sounds ‘sed’.


Red words have to be learned by sight.  These words are printed in red in the story books.  Learning to read red words is a very important part of reading and one which you can help with at home.  You can get a list of red words from your class teacher.  They must be read on sight and remember, ‘You can’t Fred a Red’.


Green words are words that your child will be able to blend together using the speed sounds they have learned.

Your child will be able to read a book more easily if they practise reading these words first.



Teach Every Child To Read - Pupils with SEND

Pupils who fail to learn to read early on often start to dislike reading. Pupils need to keep up with their peers rather than be helped to catch up later, at a point when learning in the wider curriculum depends so much on literacy. Since 2019, OFSTED have been on this same mission. They say that schools must be determined that every pupil will learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities. Schools must ensure that all pupils, including the weakest readers, make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age-related expectations.

There are 2 core strategies to accelerate children’s progress in reading.

  1. Ensure the teaching of phonics is the best it can be.

Phonics lessons are of the highest quality to reduce the likelihood that children might need extra support. This is the most efficient way to speed up progress for the majority of children.

  1. Provide targeted support to those who need it.

Even with the best teaching, a few children can sometimes need additional support with their reading. We need to accelerate the progress of these children without delay to ensure they can keep up with their peers rather than needing to catch up later on.


Read Write Inc. Fast Track Phonics Tutoring

The Read Write Inc. Fast Track Phonics tutoring programme enables teachers to provide targeted support to accelerate children’s progress within phonics and reading.

Fast Track Phonics tutoring is used with children who need extra daily practice to learn and embed their phonic sounds. Children receiving Fast Track Phonics tutoring will have additional daily practice of reading sounds and words and they may also have additional practice using the Read Write Inc. storybooks to further embed their learning of phonics.

Fast Track Phonics tutoring breaks down the phonics and reading strands of the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme into smaller steps to accelerate children’s reading progress. It provides intensive targeted support to address specific gaps in a child’s reading. This may be carried out on an individual basis or as a small group.

The amount of time needed for tutoring will depend on a child’s starting place. Some children may only need a few weeks of Fast Track Phonics tutoring to catch up whereas others may need a term or more. Children in need of additional practice are identified right from the start of Reception so that targeted support can be implemented at the earliest possible opportunity.

How to Help at Home


Read to your child

Even if your child is not yet reading words, it is so important to read stories to them.  The film below explains the benefits of reading to your child:

Parent video: Why read to your child?

Parent video: Why read to your child? - Bing video

There are also some things to think about when reading to your child:

Parent video: 10 things to think about when you read to your child

Parent video: 10 things to think about when you read to your child - Bing video

Fred Talk

To expose your child to the idea of blending sounds together to make words, break down the words of the simple vocabulary you often use at home.  For example:

 “Please pass me that c - u - p."

“Let’s sit on the r - u - g."

This will help your child to practise their oral blending as they can repeat the sounds back to you and then say the word. 


Building Vocabulary

Children need a rich vocabulary in order to develop high levels of comprehension.  The more words your child has in their vocabulary, the more they will understand when they read.  You could try using alternative words for things at home, rather than saying you are pleased that they have tidied their toys, you could say that you are delighted, ecstatic, overjoyed. 


Reading with your child

Your child will bring home reading books to share with you:

  • A Phonics Book
    This book has been selected for your child to read to you. It contains sounds and high frequency sight words that your child has been working on in class.

  • A reading for pleasure book (coloured book band book)

         This book is for your child to share and enjoy with someone at home.  The aim of this book is:

          • to promote a love of reading

          • to provide your child access to a greater range of texts

          • to expose them to a wider range of vocabulary than they can read independently.


When helping your child to decode words at home, it’s really important to pronounce the sounds correctly.  Here is a helpful guide to show you how we are teaching your child to pronounce the sounds:

Parent video: How to say the sounds

What is the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?

The Phonics Screening Check is taken individually by all children in England, in June of Year 1.  It is designed to give teachers, parents and carers information on how your child is progressing in phonics.  It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.


The check consists of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read, one-to-one, with a teacher.  Non-words (or 'nonsense' words or 'alien' words) are a collection of letters that will follow the phonics rules your child has been taught, but don’t mean anything – your child will need to read these with the correct sounds in order to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them.


The 40 words and non-words are divided into two sections – one with simple word structures of three or four letters, and one with more complex word structures of five or six letters.  The teacher administering the check with your child will give them a few practice words to read first – including some non-words – so they understand more about what they have to do.  Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of a monster / alien, as if the word was their name (and so your child doesn't think the word is a mistake because it doesn't make sense!).


There is more information for parents on the Oxford Owl WebsitePhonics Screening Check Information

RWInc Glossary:






Fred is a frog puppet we use in sessions.  He can only speak in sounds. 

Fred Talk 


Sounding out a word, saying each of the sounds before blending, e.g., c-u-p.



Fred Fingers


‘Pinching’ each sound from a word on your fingers to help spell a word.

Green words


Decodable words


Red words


Irregular words that cannot be sounded out


Story Green words


Decodable words that will be included in the storybook 

Speedy Green words


Decodable words in the storybook that children should be able to read at speed rather than Fred Talking first. 




Fred in your Head


Still sounding out a word but doing so in your head rather than out loud, helps build fluency. 


Special friends


Two or three letters working together to make one sound e.g. sh, ch, igh, air, a-e, i-e.