At Utterby Primary Academy we use a phonics programme called Read, Write, Inc (RWI). This page aims to provide all the necessary information about RWI phonics, including how we teach your children phonics at school and how you are able to support your child at home.

Please look out for the useful video links at the bottom of the page for more information and, importantly, to show how to pronounce the individual letter sounds.

What is phonics?

Phonics is a method of teaching children to read. Phonics works by breaking words down into its individual sounds. There are 44 different sounds in the English language. Learning to read with phonics is therefore a bit like learning a code, and after learning just a few sounds, you will be able to use this code to read hundreds of words. The more sounds you know, the more words you will be able to work out how to read. Not all words are phonetically decodable, however, a select few words you need to learn through the 'sight words' method of learning to read.

What is Read, Write, Inc. phonics?

The Read Write Inc. programme is for primary school children learning to read. It is a phonics based programme which helps children learn to read whilst also developing a wide range of vocabulary and encouraging a love of stories. Read Write Inc. is a government backed phonics scheme designed by Ruth Miskin, which through systematic teaching and consistent routines, enables children to achieve high levels of reading success.It was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at At Utterby Primary Academy, we believe that reading is the key to all learning and we are fully committed to making sure that every child is a reader by the end of KS1.

This link provides some further information: Read, Write, Inc.

How will my child learn to read?

Reception / EYFS

In reception, all 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-fictions 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 by using Fred Talk

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


The children

  • They 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

Year 1 & Year 2

Children follow the same format as Reception but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level.

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 – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.

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

If your child’s school is using Read Write Inc. Phonics, teachers will introduce your child to a toy frog called Fred once he or she is ready to start reading words.

Fred can only say the sounds in a word and needs your child to help him read the word. Fred will say the sounds and children will work out the word. For example, Fred will say the sounds c–a–t, and children will say the word cat. This is Fred Talk: sounding out the word.

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. First, your child will learn to read:

  • Set 1 Speed Sounds: these are sounds written with one letter:

  • Set 1 sounds written with two letters (‘special friends’).

  • Simple words containing these sounds, by sound-blending

  • Read words in carefully levelled Red, Green and Purple Storybooks.

Set 1 Sounds -

Please do not use letter names at this early stage (reception).

Children will also use pictures above for each sound to help recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound.

Click the link to find out how to pronounce the sounds correctly: Pronouncing the sounds

Step 2:

Once your child knows all their single sounds, some simple 'special friends' and has learnt to blend simple words, they will now learn Set 2 Sounds - the long vowels:

  • To read and recognise Set 2 Speed Sounds:

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

  • To read words containing these sounds

  • Read a wider range of 'red words'. (Words that cannot be read using phonic skills)

  • To read Pink, Orange and Yellow Storybooks, building speed and fluency.

Set 2 Sounds -

When they are very confident and growing in reading ability with all of set 1 and 2 they are taught Set 3 Sounds.

In Set 3, they will learn to:

  • Read Set 3 Speed Sounds

ea oi a-e i-e o-e u-e aw are ur er ow ai oa ew ire ear ure

  • Read words containing these new sounds

  • Read further 'Red words' that cannot be read using phonic skills.

  • Read Blue and Grey Storybooks with increasing speed.

Set 3 Sounds -

Nonsense words (Alien words)

As well as learning to read and blend real words, children will have 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.

Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation.

Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence that shows the meaning of a word and editing a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Children complete a longer piece of independent writing, which gives them the opportunity to show off their creativity and to practise their spelling, grammar and punctuation.

What is the phonics screening and when will it take place?

The Phonics Screening Check is a test for children in Year 1. Children take it during June in a one-to-one setting with a teacher. This is usually their class teacher, but it could also be the headteacher or another teacher who knows the child well.

Whilst children learn phonics to help them with both word reading and spelling, the Phonics Screening Check only tests their skills at word reading. This is sometimes called decoding.

During the Phonics Screening Check, children are asked to read (decode) 40 words. Most of these words are real words but some are pseudo-words. Pseudo-words are included to ensure that children are using their decoding skills and not just relying on their memory of words they’ve read before. Because some children may misread these pseudo-words based on their similarity to words in their existing vocabulary, each pseudo-word is clearly identified with an image of an alien. Most teachers and children, therefore, refer to pseudo-words as alien words.

How can I support my child at home?

As your child is bringing books home, please make sure that you are reading with your child on a regular basis. We want reading to be a pleasurable and enjoyable experience so please make sure that you give your child lots of praise and encouragement! Please be aware that this is a time of transition for your children and as part of that book bandings may begin to differ and change.

If you have any other questions about RWI, please see your class teacher.

Additional information and useful resources:

Parent video: Understanding Phonics

Parent Video: Pronouncing the Sounds

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

Parent video: Why read to your child?

Parent video: The Phonics Screening Check

Parent video: Reading the stretchy sounds with your child

Parent video: Reading the bouncy sounds with your child

Parent video: Reading the digraphs with your child