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Phonics-Read, Write, Inc


At St Budeaux CE Primary Academy, we teach phonics through Read, Write, Inc (RWI). Read Write Inc. is a phonics-based reading programme developed by Ruth Miskin, which provides a structured and systematic approach to teaching reading, spelling and writing to children. It is used by more than a quarter of the UK's primary schools and is designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.


What is Read Write Inc?

Your child will begin the Read Write Inc Phonics programme when they start at St Budeaux in EYFS.
When teaching your child to read, we never use letter names at this early stage.  Many schools use different phonics schemes to teach children to read, at St Budeaux, we believe Read Write Inc Phonics is the best scheme to support your child in learning to read.  Your child will be assessed and grouped according to their phonics ability, working in small groups with a teacher or teaching assistant.  

The success of the systematic programme is based on the research-based approach that daily repetition and revisiting of sounds that build in a progressive way so that all children can be successful.


Speed Sounds
When teaching your child phonics, we will use the term 'speed sounds',  these are individual sounds which your child will learn how to read quickly and effortlessly as they progress through Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Your child will be regularly assessed to ensure they are reaching their full potential and will receive additional one-to-one tutoring if appropriate.



Your child will learn a new sound every day accompanied by a handwriting rhyme which helps them to remember how to form the letter shape when writing it. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in speech, this may be one letter, or a group of two or three letters which make one sound.   For example, if your child was learning the phoneme (sound) ‘a’, they would also learn the rhyme ’round the apple and down the leaf’ when they start to write their letter.  In set 1, your child will learn 44 phonemes.



As your child learns each sound (phoneme), they are taught how to blend the sounds together to make two and three letters words (CVC words, consonant, vowel, consonant such as the word dog).  Your child will learn how to read real and nonsense words.


Green Words

Alongside this, your child will start to read 'green' words.  'Green' words are words which can be sounded out and blended like ‘dog’, ‘cat’.

Red Words

Having gained confidence sounding out green words, your child will be taught about ‘red' words.  These words are tricky words, words which can’t be sounded out phonetically like ‘to’ and ‘go’.  Your child will start to learn the 'red' words I, the and my. They will also learn why these words are tricky and cannot be sounded out. I says it's name as in the alphabet song whilst with the word 'the', we don't say the 'e' and with 'my', the 'y' is pretending to be an I.  As your child progresses through EYFS and KS1 (Year 1 and Year 2), they will learn these 'red' words by sight.

Digraphs and Trigraphs- Special Friends

When the children have learnt the single sounds they begin to move on to two and three letter sounds these are called digraphs (2 letters making 1 sound like ‘ea’  in the word tea) and trigraphs (3 letters making 1 sound like ‘igh’ in the word light). Set 1 sounds include the digraphs 'ch', 'sh', 'th', 'ng, 'nk, and 'qu'. We refer to these as special friends.



Fred Talk
At school we use a puppet called Fred who can only speak in sounds, not whole words. We call this Fred Talk. For example, Fred would say d-o-g, we would say dog. Your child is taught to hear sounds and blend them together in sequence to make a word.

Fred Fingers
Fred Fingers are used for spelling. Your child is taught to sound out the word they are spelling and put up the correct number of fingers for the sounds they can hear in that word. For example: m-ee-t = 3 sounds = 3 fingers. When your child starts to write words, they will be taught to use their 'Fred Fingers':

Say the word.

Hold up correct number of Fred Fingers.

Palm facing you.

Say the word again.

Pinch the sounds. (Gently pinch each finger as you say the sound)

Write the sounds.

Add sound buttons/dashes.

Sound Buttons and Dashes
Sound buttons are circles or spots that can be written underneath a sound to support reading.  Your child will be taught to say the sound aloud as they touch the sound button.   If reading a diagraph (two letters making one sound) or trigraph (three letters making one sound), your child will know that this sound is represented by a dash underneath the letters which make the sound. See above in the word play, 'ay' is a diagraph, so has the dash underneath.

Fred in your head

Your child's teacher will hold up a green word (close to their chest), giving your child time to mime the sounds, and will then push the word forward as a signal  for your child to say the whole word (as opposed to blending individual sounds).  This will be repeated over a period of time, until your child can say the word straight away. Your child will start off initially mouthing the sounds silently and then saying the whole word to saying the whole word straight away.



Set 1 and 2 sounds

Your child will start to learn set 1 and set 2 sounds in EYFS.  It is important to remember that each child is individual and may be ready to progress before other children. In Year 1/2, your child will continue to progress through set 1,2 and/or 3 as appropriate before moving onto spelling and grammar lessons. If appropriate, phonics lessons and interventions will also continue into Key Stage 2 (years 3, 4, 5 and 6).



As your child gains confidence reading individual words, they will move onto reading sentences, then onto 'ditties'. The Ditty books provide a bridge between your child reading simple words/sentences and reading short stories.


Story Books

Children will then progress through the phases of phonics with accompanying matched reading books, until they are assessed as being secure in all of the phase sounds and can independently segment and blend the sounds to decode and read words in short books.


Phonics Screening Check

In Year one, your child will have a Government Led, phonics screening check, this is normally held in June.  The purpose of the check is to confirm whether individual children have learnt decoding and blending skills to meet an age-appropriate standard.  The phonics screening contains 40 words and your child will work one-to-one with the teacher, reading words out aloud. There will be a combination of real words and nonsense words.

There is not a set time limit to complete the screening in but it usually takes between 4-9 minutes. If your child's teacher thinks it would be appropriate, your child can have a break or stop if they are struggling. If your child does not meet the pass mark they will have to retake the screening test in Year 2. (You will be informed on their end of year school report on this).


By the end of year 1 it is expected that children are able to recognise the grapheme-phoneme correspondences, segment and blend them confidently in words. For the past few years the expected pass mark has been 32 out of 40. However, the Department for Education does not release the pass mark until a few weeks after the children have completed the check.



Read the matched RWI reading book/ditty sentences with my child daily, to build confidence. The repetition and fluency of decoding and reading these books is vital for their reading development.

Read a variety of books (fiction, non-fiction, rhymes etc).

Discuss the different features of various books.

Talk about the books and other reading materials that you have shared.

Explain the meaning of new words.

Read to your child to model how reading can sound and to help promote a love of stories.

Most importantly though, show the fun that can be gained by listening to stories and reading a range of texts.e.g. reading and then following a recipe together.

Don't forget you don't have to read just books, cereal packets, shopping lists, road signs, web pages, magazines, newspapers etc are useful ways to practise reading.