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Heartwood CE VC Primary and Nursery School
Learn to Love – Love to Learn!

Phonics and early reading

We have increased the number of sessions that Phonics is taught in KS1 and KS2 to accelerate reading skills due to the potential impact of COVID-19 school closure. 

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At Heartwood CE VC Primary and Nursery School we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their reading and writing. 

Mrs Starman is our Read Write Inc lead teacher, so if you have questions about RWI, please speak to your child’s class teacher who will work with her to answer your questions. 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 Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc (RWI) is a phonics complete literacy 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. However, at Heartwood Primary we begin to develop the skills needed to kick start the programme in our Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support with their reading.



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.


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


How will RWI be taught?

Children are taught RWI in specific groups where all the children in a group are at the same place in their reading journey. All children are assessed regularly by our RWI trained teachers, and so are able to move groups as soon as they need to, which ensures your child is making the best possible progress in their reading. 



Before phonics begins in nursery, we focus on reading stories and rhymes to children and developing their language. We encourage our children to talk as much as possible throughout the day, and plan in the use of words and phrases to develop their language. 

Grammar and vocabulary is taught by orally building sentences throughout the day about their play, stories, objects, pictures, etc.

Before Set One Sounds are taught, teachers model and the children practise saying pure sounds, using Fred talk to orally blend and name the picture cards.

During the Summer term, the teaching of set one sounds begins. The children learn the new sounds, learn to blend and practise forming the letters in the air.



During the first two weeks of Reception (during which there is a staggered entry to start school), there is a focus on listening and attention skills and they play lots of games to support these. The silent signals are introduced: Team Stop, My Turn, Your Turn, Turn to Your Partner, and the 1,2,3 signal. Fred games are played and all of the sound-picture frieze is recapped or introduced. Children also have a baseline phonics assessment.

At the beginning of week 3, the whole class teaching of phonics begins with the children learning m,a,s,d,t. One to one tutoring begins in week 3 too, for those children needing extra support to keep up.


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, we do two important things 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


Use Fred Talk and play Fred Talk games

Speaking like Fred helps children to understand that words are made up of sounds. Teachers and teaching assistants 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.


Pinny time

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

• Each teacher/TA has their own apron or ‘pinny’ with pockets containing a set of Speed Sounds Cards. During the day, teachers and TAs work with certain children and go through specific sound cards with them, helping them to increase their speed.


Children will be taught how to read as follows:

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.


The following video is an example of blending sounds with Fred.


The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets.


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.


Set 1




Down Maisie then over the two mountains. Maisie, mountain, mountain.


Round the apple, down the leaf.


Slide around the snake


Round the dinosaur's back, up his neck and down to his feet.


Down the tower, across the tower,


Down the insects body, dot for the head.


Down Nobby and over the net.


Down the plait, up and over the pirates face.


Round the girls face, down her hair and give her a curl


All around the orange


Curl around the caterpillar


Down the kangaroos body, tail and leg


Down and under the umbrella, up to the top and down to the puddle


Down the laces, over the toe and touch the heel


Down the stem and draw the leaves


Slice into the egg, go over the top, then under the egg


Down the long leg


     Down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


     Slither down the snake, then down the horse's head to the           hooves and over his back


     Down the robot's back, then up and curl


     Down his body, curl and dot


     Down a wing, up a wing


     Down a horn, up a horn and under the yak's head.


     Down, up, down, up the worm.


     Down the tower, across the tower, then down the horse’s             head to the hooves and over his back


     Zig-zag-zig, down the zip.


     Curl around the caterpillar, , then down the horse's head to         the hooves and over his back


     Round the queen’s head, up to her crown, down her hair and       curl


    Cross down the arm and leg and cross the other       way


    A thing on a string


    I think I stink


Please do not use letter names at this early stage. to hear how to pronounce sounds correctly.


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


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.


Long  vowel sound

Set 2 Speed Sound cards

Teach these first

Set 3 Speed Sound cards


ay: may I play

a-e: make a cake

ai: snail in the rain


ee: what can you see

ea: cup of tea

e: he me we she be


igh: fly high

i-e: nice smile


ow: blow the snow

o-e: phone home

ao: goat in a boat


oo: poo at the zoo

u-e: huge brute

ew: chew the stew


oo: look at a book




ar: start the car




or: shut the door

aw: yawn at dawn



air: that’s not fair

are: share and care



ir: whirl and twirl

ur: nurse for a purse

er: a better letter


ou: shout it out

ow: brown cow



oy: toy to enjoy

oi: spoil the boy




ire: fire fire!




ear: hear with your ear




ure: sure it’s pure?



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.


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.

Phonics Expectations and Progression for Nursery, Reception, Year One and Year Two

At Heartwood we:

*Have trained reading teachers leading each phonics group. They work closely with your child and know exactly where their learning is and how to ensure they make progress,

*Assess at least every half a term to ensure that your child is in the correct phonics group, celebrate the progress they have made, identify any difficulties they are having,

*Send home Read Write Inc. books that are directly in line with the phonics that your child is learning. Each book will have been read 3 times at school, working on decoding, prosody and comprehension, before they bring it home to read.


By doing the above we know precisely who needs more support, so do not worry if your child find phonics, or aspects of phonics difficult, as we:

*Speak to parents/carers about how you can support at home,

*Use Pinny time (as described above) to help increase speed and confidence

*Run additional phonics sessions with Mrs Harwood in the afternoons or Miss Sugden in Reception class

*Offer a morning phonics club with Mrs Harwood and Miss Comb

*Are always here to offer support to you and be a listening ear


The Year One Phonics Screening Check will take place during the week commencing Monday 10th June 2024. Year 1 children will take part in a National Phonic Screening Check where they are asked to sound out and blend 40 words. Some of these words are real words and some are alien words. The Government sets a pass mark each year after the children have all completed the tests. If your child doesn't read the recommended number of words in the check in Year 1 they will resit a new check the following year in Year 2. You will receive information on how many words your child read in their end of year report in July.



Click on the links below for more information about how you can help your child with phonics at home.

Reading Leader: Mrs Starman (Deputy Head, Phonics & Reading Lead)

Reading Link Governor: Andrew Walker