Phonics - RWInc & Early Reading


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RWI Phonics and Early Reading

At Woodley CofE we passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently, as quickly as possible, is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances. To achieve this, we use the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme (RWI) which includes teaching synthetic phonics, sight vocabulary, decoding and encoding words as well as spelling and accurate letter formation.

Our aim is to ensure that all pupils:

● read easily, fluently and with good understanding

● develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information

● write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences


The children are taught in small groups with highly trained and enthusiastic staff. The children are assessed regularly by the Reading Leader to ensure that they are making progress and placed in the correct group for them. Any children that are at risk of falling behind are provided with one to one tutoring to support them to catch up.


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


When using RWI to read the children will:

  •          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


When using RWI to write the children will:

  •          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 


When using RWI the children will also work in pairs:

  •          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
  •          Help your child learn to read words by sound-blending (Fred talk) eg. c-a-t = cat, sh-o-p = shop. Children learn to read words by blending the letter-sounds that are in the Speed Sounds set. Help your child to say the pure sounds ('m' not 'muh', 's' not 'suh' etc.) as quickly as they can, and then blend the sounds together to say the whole word.

Nonsense words (Alien words) 

  •          Research has shown that incorporating nonsense words into teaching reading can be an effective way to establish blending and segmenting skills. However, it is important to ensure that children understand that they are reading nonsense words (and why) so that they are not confused by trying to read the words for meaning. By reading nonsense words children develop their ability to decode individual sounds and then blend them together to read. They are an indicator of early reading skills and work as a quick, reliable, and valid way of assessing children. However, reading nonsense words is only a small part of the Read, Write Inc. phonics teaching.


Spelling with your Fred Fingers

  •          Children are taught to use their fingers to help them write words. The children say the word out loud and break it down into its individual sounds. If a word has 3 sounds children hold up 3 fingers, 4 sounds 4 fingers etc. Children pinch each finger as they say the sounds needed in the word then they write the letters that represent each sound. 
  •          When using Fred Fingers each finger represents one sound. When children reach yellow Read Write Inc. storybooks, they will learn to trace the letters onto each finger and say the letter names.

Reading at home

Children in Reception who are learning the first 44 letter sounds will bring home a RWI sound blending book plus a ‘book to share’ for you to read with them.

Once children become more confident at blending they will bring home Ditty sheets which match the phonics the children are learning in school each week. This will be in addition to a ‘book to share’.

Once children begin to read the story books in class (from Red group) they will start to bring home ‘Book Bag Books’ that match the phonics the children are learning in school each week. This is in addition to a ‘book to share’. ‘Books to share’ can be changed as frequently as the children would like.

Parent Phonics Workshops

Parental involvement in the early reading journey and beyond is highly urged. Throughout the school year, we offer during and after-school parent workshops. It is encouraged for all parents to attend a workshop as they offer guidance on understanding the systematic synthetic approach to phonics at Woodley CofE Primary School as well as ideas for supporting children through the early reading jouney.

We want to ensure that parents are confident when helping children read at home, and they have a secure knowledge of phonic sounds and blending skills. Ultimately, helping all our children be successful readers.


The Phonics Screening Check

Phonics screening tests take place when the children are in Year 1. This usually happens at the beginning of June and consists of 40 words that children have to blend and read. Some words the children are to blend and read are ‘real’ words while other are non-sense words. Children will have had many opportunities during their RWInc lessons to practise reading similar non-sense words. The pass rate is usually around 32 or 33 out of 40 but this can differ year to year. If your child is unsuccessful at passing the phonics screening test in Year 1, they have another opportunity to take the test in Year 2.


What is the phonics screening check?

This is a quick check of how the children have responded to synthetic phonics as a strategy for developing their ability to read. It is a statutory requirement, and it involves your child decoding words using only their phonic knowledge. It helps us to confirm whether they have met the expected standard for a child at the end of Year 1.

How does the check work?

  • Your child is asked to read 40 words aloud to a teacher who is known to them.
  • Your child may have read some of the words before, while others would have been completely new.
  • The check will only a few minutes to complete however, there was no time limit.

Meeting the expected standard

The check is scored out of 40 and the pass mark in the past has been out of 32-33. This can vary year on year.

All children, regardless of their mark, will continue to access phonics learning until the end of Y2 at least. If your child did not achieve 32 marks or more, they will be given additional support in phonics to help them to improve. The nature of this support will vary depending on how close to the threshold they are, and they will be checked again later in the year.


If you have any questions about supporting your child with RWI at home, please speak to your child's class teacher, or alternatively our Phonics Lead -
Mrs Luzolo. -
Further Resources and Websites
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