Read Write Inc. Phonics

What is phonics?

Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. It's all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, like 'b', and some by two (digraphs), like ‘ar’ in car or three (trigraphs), like ‘air’ in chair. Digraphs and trigraphs we call ‘Special Friends’.

What is RWI phonics?

In our school we use Read Write Inc. (RWI) phonics to learn the letter sounds in Year R. RWI phonics it is an inclusive literacy programme to support primary school children learning to read. RWI phonics continues through YR and into Y1. Children who have been taught RWI phonics remain on the programme until they are reading at expected Year 2 level. At the core of RWI phonics is the lively and vigorous teaching of synthetic phonics. Children learn how to read (decode) at the same time as developing handwriting skills and spelling (encode). It was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information can be found at

The 44 sounds (phonemes) of the English language, and the way they are written down, A phonics lesson begins with revising any sounds the children have already been taught. Then the teacher will introduce a new sound and its spelling.


How does it work?

Year R

Children are first taught the pure ‘set 1 sounds’ so that they will be able to blend the sounds in words more easily (put pure sounds guide attachment here or alternatively see video below:


Set 1 sounds 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

In school when children say the sounds in words we call this ‘Fred Talk’. They learn a sound a day and the order of teaching these sounds has been specially developed so that children can start reading complete words as soon as possible. We do not use letter names at this stage; we simply focus on the sounds that are used to sound out words. When learning the Set 1 sounds, the children are not only taught the ‘sound’ the letter makes, but also how to form the letter, using a rhyme and picture prompt (attachment handwriting phrases). Every lesson begins with recapping on previously learnt sounds and the children are encouraged to read the ‘Green’ word cards (green for go!) by blending sounds they have learnt to read the words. As they become more confident using ‘Fred talk’ to read words, they are encouraged to use ‘Fred in their head’, where they read words silently in order to just say the word.

The children are regularly assessed throughout the teaching and learning of Set 1 sounds and 1:1 support is given to children who are in danger of falling behind with their reading. On completion of learning Set 1 sounds, the children are assessed and are then grouped according to their reading level. Teaching is then differentiated in order to support the specific needs and next steps of the children in each group.

By the end of YR all children will have been taught Set 1 and Set 2 sounds.

Set 2 sounds order:

ay  ee  igh  ow  oo  oo  ar  or  air  ir  ou  oy

Some children will have moved on to learning Set 3 sounds (complex speed sounds below). 

Alongside the teaching of phonics, children are also taught ‘red words’. These are words that cannot be sounded out using phonic sounds and therefore need to be learnt by sight. 

Schools embedding this programme have been recognised by OFSTED in the HMI ‘Reading by Six Report’ (November 2010) as an example of how the best schools teach reading.

Reading schemes 

The early spine of our scheme is made up of books linked to the RWI progression. Children also access carefully graded books from a mixture of reading schemes. These initially match carefully to the RWI teaching and are then progressive as children move higher up the school. 

Useful phonics websites

Here are a few websites that you might like to explore with your child:


Alphablocks - lots of videos and games to help with recognising letters and reading. We watch Alphablocks in school so your child might recognise some of these already!

Phoneme pop! - the sounds/letters drift by on bubbles and your child has to pop the matching sound!

Letters and sounds initial sound game - this game lets your child reveal a sound/letter and then try to find the picture that starts with the same sound.

BBC bitesize - this game allows your child to listen to the sounds in a word and to pick the correct letter. Then they can see what word they have made with all of the sounds together.

Phonics play - there are several free games to play that will help your child with their blending and segmenting.



Pure Sounds Guide by Anonymous 780LRE5 on Scribd



Complex Sounds Chart by Anonymous 780LRE5 on Scribd



Red Word Mat by Anonymous 780LRE5 on Scribd