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Elm C of E Primary School



At Elm C of E, we want to teach every child to read and write, and to keep them reading.

Why Phonics?

In building phonic knowledge and skills, children are able to decode new words quickly and independently. 

"Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment. Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia."
(Learning to Read Through Phonics’, Department for Education, 2013) 

How do we teach Phonics?

We use the Read, Write Inc. Phonics scheme across the school. 

Read Write Inc Phonics logo

It provides a systematic and consistent approach to the teaching of reading and writing - sparking a lifelong love of reading. 

Children become successful readers by:

  • reading the right book at the right time,
  • enjoying storytime everyday,
  • repeated readings of storybooks.

Read, Write Inc. Phonics enables our children to build connections to free up space in their brains to learn new things. This mindless decoding of new words frees up space for comprehension. 

Read Write Inc. Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step. It is for 4 to 8 year olds, where children from Reception to Year 2 are placed in homogenous reading ability sets and participate in phonics lessons daily. 

We ensure we make a strong start from the beginning by creating a 'Talk-a-lot, read-a-lot' Pre-School. Children's vocabulary grows through role-play, discussion, building sentences and using productive questioning. We place huge emphasis on developing children’s love of reading through enticing story and poetry times. In the last term of Pre-School, children are introduced and taught the name of each picture for each Set 1 sound. Children start to use 'pure sounds' and begin to use 'Fred Talk' to orally blend. This gives them a flying start before moving into the Reception class. 

In Reception, children learn new sounds daily, using a mnemonic to help them write the letter. They use 'Fred Talk' to orally blend sounds together in words. Once they are secure in orally blending they start to use 'Fred Talk' to read words and begin to identify 'Red Words'. Children also learn to spell words using 'Fred Fingers'. When children are confident in reading simple words, they then move onto reading stories. As children progress into Key Stage 1 they continue to learn new sounds - alternative letters for sounds they already know. Children apply these sounds in their reading and writing and continue to develop their reading and writing skills, through stories that are carefully matched to their phonic knowledge.

Sounds are grouped into 3 sets. Storybooks, which the children read, are then matched to the sounds that they know.  

Sounds and Corresponding Colour Storybooks:

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Additional Sounds


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.

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

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

ue, ie, au, e-e, ck, kn, wh, ph.

Colour Storybooks







Read, Write Inc. Phonics Expectation of Progress:








Know single letter
Set 1 Sounds

Know all Set 1 Sounds

Blending Orally

Blending to read

Reading Ditties

Reading Red Storybooks

Learning Set 2 Sounds

Reading Green

Reading Green/Purple

Year 1

Reading Purple

Know all Set 2 Sounds

Reading Pink

Learning Set 3 Sounds

Reading Orange

Reading Yellow

Know all Set 3 Sounds

Reading Yellow

Reading Blue

Year 2

Reading Blue

Reading multi-syllabic words

Reading Grey

Reading Grey

Finish the programme



Every child is on their own unique leaning journey and will learn at different rates. Each child may progress through the programme at their own pace, however with support they will all thrive.



The teaching of phonics involves introducing the children to the correct terminology to help build their skills and work more independently with their reading. Read, Write Inc. Phonics involves specific terminology which your child may talk about when they come home.

The verbal sound in which letters make when they are spoken. 

How sounds are represented when written. 

Special Friends
More than one letter that represents a sound i.e. in Set 1: 'sh', 'ch, 'th'; in Set 2: 'ay', 'ee', 'igh'; in Set 3: 'ea', 'ie', 'a_e'. 

Recognising the sounds in each word and merging them in the order they are written to pronounce the word i.e 'c-a-t' = 'cat'.

Oral blending
When no text is used, an adult sounds out i.e. 'b-u-s' and the child can say ‘bus’.

Fred the Frog 
'Fred the Frog' is a frog which is used as a vehicle to help the children blend sounds orally. Fred can only read pure sounds, so the children help Fred by blending the sounds so that they can help him to read a whole word i.e. Fred says "d-o-g" the children tell him the word is 'dog'. 

Fred Talk
When children sound out each sound to help them blend and read the word. 

Identifying the individual sounds in a spoken word and being able to write down the letters for each sound. 

Fred Fingers
A tool which helps children segment the sounds in words easily. When we segment a word we match each sound to a finger and press the finger as we say the sound to help us remember how many sound we will need to write. 

Green Words 
These are words that contain only sounds the children have been taught, which can be read phonetically. Children use the routine 'Special Friends, Fred Talk, Read the Word'. 

Red Words 
These are words which cannot be read phonetically. They do not follow the pattern of sounds taught through phonics and are spelt in an unusual or uncommon way. Children are taught the 'tricky' part of the word to help them when reading. 

Fred in your Head
Children use 'Fred Talk' to read words in their head, instead of out loud (orally). 

Alien Words
These are words that are not real but allow children to practice using 'Fred Talk' and blending sounds. They are also known as nonsense or pseudo words. 


Sound mats and Sound Charts

Children are encouraged to use sound mats or sound charts to help them to make phonetically plausible decisions with their independent writing.
Children have access to sound mats, which include pictures for each sound, and sound charts to support their independent writing. 


Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check is a statutory National Curriculum Key Stage 1 assessment and takes place in June. The assessment is carried out with your child’s class teacher and mainly focuses on all Set 1, 2 and 3 sounds.  The test will be pitched at Set 3 so your child should be aiming to be able to decode most words which include these sounds. Lots of work is carried out with the children in Year 1 to prepare them for the screening check so they feel completely comfortable with what is expected of them.

The check consists of 40 words, made up of real and nonsense words. They are asked to read the words accurately. They can make attempts to sound out but must be heard blending the word correctly. Children are encouraged to use the routine in which they follow in their Read, Write Inc. Phonics lessons, 'Special Friends, Fred Talk, Read the Word'. 

Children who do not pass the screening check can retake it in Year 2 and will receive further support to prepare them, alongside their usual daily Read, Write Inc. Phonics lessons.


How can you help?

The videos below explain more about the scheme, including how we teach your child to read at Elm C of E Primary School and how you can help your child at home.

Introduction to Read, Write Inc. Phonics


Set 1 Sounds

Set 2 and Set 3 Sounds

Fred Talk

Phonics Screening Check


Read, Write Inc. Phonics: In Action

The videos below demonstrate the strategies the children use within their Read, Write Inc. Phonics lessons to read their storybooks. 

Reading Story Green Words - 'Fred Talk, Read the Word' 

Reading Story Green Words - 'Root Word and Suffix'

Reading the Story - 'Purple - Storybook 6: Elvis' 


Additional Links

Read, Write Inc. - Home Reading

Read, Write Inc. YouTube - Films for Parents and Carers 

Oxford Owl

Phonics Screening Check - Sample Materials and Training Video (GOV.UK)

Oxford Phonics Check Support



Read, Write Inc. Phonics Policy