Early Reading and Phonics





Early Reading and Phonics

at Corpus Christi


At Corpus Christi, our mission statement and the teaching of Jesus is at the centre of all we do.

We intend to show this through our phonics curriculum:

Give opportunities to DISCOVER new facts, skills, information and experiences, through a range of phonics activities

Teach children to RESPECT each other, work together and support each other in their journey through the phonics curriculum

Provide experiences to ENTHUSE and excite and develop phonological knowledge and understanding

Encourage high ASPIRATIONS in both school and beyond, and applying those aspirations in their phonics work   

Show ways our children can MAKE A DIFFERENCE to themselves, each other and outside, in big and small ways, and use their understanding in phonics to aid their experiences


Following the National Curriculum and allowing the children to read and improve using texts at their decoding level, we use the Read Write Inc Synthetic Phonics Programme to develop children’s phonics and early reading skills. We are fully committed to this programme as we feel it gives our children the best possible start. On this page you will find some more information.

If you have questions about RWI, please contact school and the staff, led by Miss Mowatt (Reading/Phonics Lead), Mrs Athey (Reading/Phonics Lead) and Mrs Bailey (Early Years Lead), will be happy to help. 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 Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Children are taught how to do the following:

  • Recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters (Special friends) make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ (known as Fred Talk) new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way - starting with the simplest sounds (set 1) 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 five to seven.

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 will also become confident phonetic spellers. This will then lead into teaching the children different spelling rules to help develop more accurate spelling.

What is Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc (RWI) is an inclusive phonics 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 Corpus Christi we begin the programme in the  Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still require support in their reading.

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


How will Early Reading/Phonics be taught?

All children are assessed regularly by our RWI teachers and staff so they work with children at the correct level. This allows complete participation in lessons. All of our teaching and learning staff have are Read Write Inc trained, and we update our training regularly.


When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short sessions. 

In Nursery, children are introduced to 'pre-phonic learning', through a range of activies, children develop their speaking and listening skills and their awareness of sounds. Children working within pre-phonic teaching will:

  • Explore and experiment with sounds and words.
  • Distinguish between sounds in the environment and phonemes.
  • Show awareness of rhyme and alliteration.

Nursery will play a variety of games and activities with the children and recognise that music has a key part in developing children’s language. Adult led activities involve modelling speaking and listening such as ‘Fred talk’ to model how to blend (Can you get your c-oa-t?). Interaction and talk with the children is critical to the success of pre-phonic activities and to promoting the children’s speaking and listening skills. We also expose children to letters that are familiar to them i.e. their name.

Throughout the year, they continue to explore sounds but when they are ready they move onto 'RWI for Nursery Children' where they explore making words with the letters they have learnt. All sessions are short, focused and of course fun!


In Reception children have a daily phonics session with a trained member of staff using the Read, Write Inc. programme. Children are grouped according to their reading stage. Again, these sessions are fast paced, fun and focused.

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
  • develop comprehension skills through stories

Daily handwriting practice

Children practise correct letter formation as part of their daily Speed Sounds Lesson. We use the mnemonics to help children visualise the letter before they write it down. Children need to practise handwriting under the guidance of a teacher so they do not develop habits that will be difficult to undo later. When writing at home, please encourage your child to use the letter formation they have been practising at school.

The children 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

Fred Talk and Fred Talk games

Speaking like Fred helps children to understand that words are made up of sounds. Teachers and learning support assistants will 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.
  • Use Fred Talk for single-syllable words at the end of sentences throughout the day e.g. it is time for     l-u-n-ch…lunch, come and sit on the f-l-oor…floor.
  • Fred Talk words at the end of the sentence and keep the words short and simple.

Year One

Children continue with the Read, Write Inc. programme but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Four sessions of RWI phonics a week last for 30 minutes. We understand that children move at a different pace so we have carefully planned groups with our highly-trained staff. They are assessed regularly and regrouped according to their reading stage. A meeting is held to explain the Phonics Screening test to parents in the Autumn Term. The phonics screening check is in June of Year 1.

Year Two and beyond

Children who still require Read, Write Inc. will stay on the programme. The children who did not pass the Phonics Screening Check will get the chance to take it again in Year 2.

Some children may still need support with their reading and confidence in this area. Teachers communicate the children’s needs and parents are informed on progress. Children are supported differently in class depending on their needs.




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

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 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. Please do not use letter names at this early stage. Children will also use pictures for each sound to help recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound.

Step 2:

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.

 Nonsense words (Alien words)          

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

Home Reading

Children working within the Read Write Inc Phonics programme will receive a RWI Book Bag to take home each week. The book will be matched to the stage and sounds the children are working on, to allow them to practise their decoding and blending skills at the correct level. This book should be practised at home, with a recommendation that it is read three times, over different evenings, to allow the children to, at first decode new words, then allow the words to become more familiar, so that on the final read they can read the text fluently. We also ask that parents discuss the content to aid their comprehension skills. 

As well as their book bag, each child has access to the Oxford Owl Read Write Inc phonics e-library. The staff member working with their group sets access to the e-book version on the book they are working on in their group, so that reading done in sessions, can be continued and practised at home. Each e-book comes with a quiz that can be completed alongisde the home reading. By matching these to the children's assessed stage of phonics learning, they can practise and build on their abilities and knowledge at the right stage, progressing quickly. 


Phonics Screening Test

At the end of Year 1 children are assessed using the National Phonics Screening Test and this is repeated for those who did not achieve the appropriate level at the end of Year 2. This assessment gathers information on the children’s ability to blend and segment decodable words to read.

The children will sit on a one to one basis in a relaxed environment and read 40 decodable words. If a child reads a word incorrectly, the teacher will just move onto the next word. Some words are real words and some are ‘alien’ words. The test is very child friendly and is a great assessment tool for teachers.


For more information about the Read Write Inc Programme and how parents can help at home, the creator of Read Write Inc, Ruth Miskin has these things to say:



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Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School
Old Lane,
Merseyside, WA11 8JF