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St Andrew's Church of England Primary School home page

St. Andrew's Church of England
Primary School

Phonics & Early Reading


At St Andrew's we are relentless in our vision to ensure that every child becomes a confident, fluent reader, during their time with us.  The systematic, synthetic phonics programme we use is Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI). We are fully committed to this programme as we feel it gives your child the best possible start. On this page you will find some more information, useful links and of course our school policy.  Read Write Inc sessions take part across the school, daily, from 9.00am - 9.45am.  children require to be part of Read Write Inc sessions, are involved in Reading VIPERs sessions during the times when Read Write Inc takes place.  As a result of this, every child at St Andrew's takes part in quality reading lessons, every day.

If you have questions about RWI, please contact school and you will be referred to a member of staff who can help. Please take the time to read the information as it will provide invaluable information as to how you can help and support your child in reading.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Children are taught how to:

  • Recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters (Special friends) make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ (Fred Talk) new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way - starting with the simplest sounds (set 1) and progressing through to the most complex - it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged five to seven.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment. Children will also become confident phonetic spellers. This will then lead into teaching the children different spelling rules to help develop more accurate spelling.

What is Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc (RWI) is an inclusive phonics 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 aged 4-7. 

RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at 


How will Early Reading/Phonics be taught?

All children are assessed regularly by our Early Reading Leader so they work with children at the same level. This allows complete participation in lessons.


Reception, Year 1, Year 2 and targeted children in Year 3 and Year 4.

Until identified as 'fluent readers' using the RWI assessments, children have a daily phonics session with a trained member of staff using the Read, Write Inc. programme. Children are grouped according to their reading stage. Again, these sessions are fast paced, fun and focused. .All sessions take place from 9.00am until 9,45am.


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-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • develop comprehension skills through stories


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 by using Fred Talk
  • learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write 

Daily handwriting practice

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. When writing at home, please encourage your child to use the letter formation they have been practising at school.

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, there are two important things to do throughout the day to help teach all children to read sounds and learn to blend quickly:

  1. Use Fred Talk and play Fred Talk games
  2. Pinny time.

Fred Talk + Speedy Sounds = reading

Fred Talk and Fred Talk games

Speaking like Fred helps children to understand that words are made up of sounds. Teachers and teaching assistants will 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.
  • Use Fred Talk 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.
  • Fred Talk words at the end of the sentence and keep the words short and simple.

Pinny time

Pinny time helps children to practise reading the sounds taught so far speedily and to make sure children ‘keep up, not catch up’.

  • Each teacher/TA should has their own apron or ‘pinny’ with pockets containing a set of Speed Sounds Cards.
  • 5-minute pinny time sessions are timetabled throughout the day. Children who need to increase their speed are targetted.
  • ‘Speed minute’ sessions throughout the day when a bell rings. How many sounds the group of children can read in one minute?
  • Pinny time can take place ANY time ANY place!


Children will be taught how to read as follows:

Before you start to teach your child, practise saying the sounds below. These are the sounds we use to speak in English.

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.


Please see the Ruth Miskin video which explains how we should model saying the sounds to ensure that children say the sounds correctly.



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.


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. 

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.

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.   


Phonics Screening Test

At the end of Year 1 children are assessed using the National Phonics Screening Test and this is repeated for those who did not achieve the appropriate level at the end of Year 2. This assessment gathers information on the children’s ability to blend and segment decodable words to read.

The children will sit on a one to one basis in a relaxed environment and read 40 decodable words. If a child reads a word incorrectly, the teacher will just move onto the next word. Some words are real words and some are ‘alien’ words. The test is very child friendly and is a great assessment tool for teachers.

Early Reading Leader administers all of the Phonics Screening Tests.  The children take part in Phonics Screening activities with the Early Reading Leader throughout the year, so that they feel confident and comfortable when completing that actual test at the end of Year 1 (and Year 2 for children who do not meet the threshold at the end of Year 1).


Year 3 and Year 4

If children in Year 3/4 re identified as not yet being fluent readers, they will also take part in daily RWI sessions.


Once the children reach the required level to move on from RWI, they will then take part in daily guided reading sessions which take place across the school from 9.00am - 9.45 am every morning.


Useful websites for Parents

Please find a list of websites that you may find useful in helping you and your child  learn about phonics. Games and fun activity websites are also included. - fun games for the children to play  - fun games for the children to play  - fun games for the children to play  - fun games for the children to play - Lots of videos and documents to help parents/carers support early reading - lots of free resources to help to support reading at home

Reception parents/carers Early Reading Meeting - PowerPoint and handouts - 28th September 2023

RWI Progress Expectations - Rec - Y2

Parents & Carers RWI PowerPoint (in video format)

Still image for this video

Early Reading and Home Reading Expectations

Phonics Screening Information For Parents

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Deyes Lane, Maghull
Liverpool, L31 6DE

Telephone: 0151 526 1378