Download: Phonics Policy 2023-2024 [PDF]

Reading and Phonics Curriculum Drivers

Language – Learning to read opens up a whole world of opportunity. Using a phonics-based approach to effortlessly decode text provides our children with the capacity to comprehend and develop a deep understanding of books. At St Oswald’s, we strive for every child to find pleasure and enjoyment through reading. (Faith in Our Voice)

Diversity and Inclusion – Providing children with the tools to confidently read and explore a range of texts which celebrate the diversity of cultures and communities within our school is crucial. The knowledge and understanding these books bring helps encourage acceptance and prepares pupils to thrive in an exponentially diverse world. (Faith in Others)

Resilience – Mastering the phonemes, graphemes and spelling rules of the English language will challenge even the most resilient of learners. Children are encouraged to take on unfamiliar words and texts, applying their knowledge of phonics and word recognition, with a confident and positive attitude. (Faith in Ourselves)

Enrichment – Fostering a love of reading and celebrating our commitment to all children being life-long readers doesn’t end in the classroom. A range of local and national enrichment events, competitions and activities benefit all involved. At St Oswald’s we strive to provide opportunities that children may not have had otherwise. (Faith in Our Journey)

Phonics at St Oswald’s Catholic Primary School

At St Oswald’s we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their Literacy development. Mr Crowther and Miss Donegan are our school reading leaders under our Literacy lead Mrs Hindley. If you have questions about RWI, contact the school office who can refer you to our expert team.

Understanding Phonics

Reading at St Oswald’s

At St Oswald’s Primary School, we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading.

Children who read regularly or are read to regularly have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds!

More importantly, reading will give your child the tools to become independent life-long learners.

We can achieve this together through:

  • Read Write Inc, a program to help to your child read at school
  • Encouraging children to develop a love of books by reading to them daily, at home and at school
  • Giving children access to a wide range of books at school and at home

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 St Oswald’s we begin to expose children in Nursery to skills that will help them access the taught programme in Reception. We continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7, as we use a stage not age approach. For our older children in Y5 and Y6 who are still developing their phonics knowledge and reading fluency, the WRI Fresh Start programme is used to delivery age appropriate content with the same tried and tested structure as further down the school.

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

What is Read Write Inc Phonics

How will my child be taught to read?

After exposing our nursery children to the picture cards and Fred talk games, we start teaching phonics to the children in the Reception right away to ensure they make the strongest start possible on tehir reading journey. This means that they learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters.


The children:

    • Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts
    • 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


The children:

      • 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 and their ‘Fred fingers’ for spelling
      • Learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write


The children:

      • Work in pairs to answer every question
      • Practise every activity with their partner
      • Take turns in talking and reading to each other
      • Develop ambitious vocabulary

Read Write Inc Progression of Skills

Progressing through the stages

Children in Early Years are introduced to initial sounds. Children then begin to learn how to ‘read’ the sound in words and how those sounds be can be written down. As children progress, they follow the same format as Early Years but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics increase in length for our Reception children from 20 minutes up to an hour by Summer term. KS1 spend their literacy hour completing Speed sound lessons and the storybook sessions developing their reading and writing side by side. Our lower KS2 children who are still in need of the RWI programme are catered for by expert teachers while children who are already fluent speedy readers they will move on to the RWI Spelling programme.

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.

Children will be taught how to read as follows:

Before you start to teach your child, practice saying the sounds below. These are the sounds we use to speak in English. Children initially begin using pictures for each sound, this will help children recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound.

Fred Talk

We use pure sounds (‘mmm’ not ‘muh’, ‘sss’ 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.

RWI Set 1, 2 and 3

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.

At this stage we do not use the letter names

Use the link below to support your pronunciation sounds correctly:

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.


Set 2 Speed Sounds
Sound Phrase Words to practice reading and spelling
ay ay: may I play play, day, may, way, say, spray
ee ee: what can you see see, three, been, green, seen, sleep
igh igh: fly high high, night, light, fright, bright, might
ow ow: blow the snow blow, snow, low, show, know, slow
oo oo: poo at the zoo too, zoo, food, pool, moon, spoon
oo oo: look at a book took, look, book, shook, cook, foot
ar ar: start the car car, start, part, star, hard, sharp
or or: shut the door sort, short, horse, sport, fork, snort
air air: that’s not fair fair, stair, hair, air, chair, lair
ir ir: whirl and twirl girl, bird, third, whirl, twirl, dirt
ou ou: shout it out out, shout, loud, mouth, round, found
oy oy: toy for a boy toy, boy, enjoy


Set 3 Speed Sounds
Sound Phrase Words to practice reading and spelling
ea Cup of tea clean, dream, seat, scream, real
oi Spoil the boy join, voice, coin
a-e Make a cake make, cake, name, same, late, date
i-e Nice smile smile, white, nice, like, time, hide
o-e Phone home home, hope, spoke, note, broke, phone
u-e Huge brute tune, rude, huge, brute, use, June
aw Yawn at dawn saw, law, dawn, crawl, paw, yawn
are Care and share share, dare, scare, square, bare
ur Nurse with a purse burn, turn, sport, nurse, purse, hurt
er A better letter never, better, weather, after, proper, corner
ow Brown cow how, down, brown, cow, town, now
ai Snail in the rain snail, paid, tail, train, paint, rain
oa Goat in a boat goat, boat, road, throat, toast, coast
ew Chew the stew chew, new, blew, flew, drew, grew
ire Fire! Fire! fire, hire, wire, bon/fire, in/spire, con/spire
ear Hear with your ear hear, dear, fear, near, year, ear
ure Sure it’s pure pure, sure, cure, pic/ture, mix/ture, ad/ven/ture

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. These words provide endless opportunities for children to apply and practice their thinking in a range of different contexts.

Step 3:

Within all the RWI sessions/books children will be exposed to 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.

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. You may have heard your child talking about ‘complete, hold, edit or build a sentence’.

Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation.

Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence to that shows the meaning of a word and edit a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling punctuation and grammar. Children complete a longer piece of independent writing, which gives them the opportunity to show off their creativity and to practice their spelling, grammar and punctuation.

To help at home:

Your child will bring home reading for pleasure books each week and will start to bring their RWI storybooks when they are confident readers, relating to their reading stage. You will find their phonics based book will aid application, speed and fluency- developing speedy reading! The front and back of the book also contain speed sound charts, story green, red and speedy green words to practise at home!

Useful Resources

Below are links to RWI videos you can use at home to help improve your Phonics:

Set 2 Sound Videos

Set 2 Sound Video 1
Set 2 Sound Video 2
Set 2 Sound Video 3
Set 2 Sound Video 4
Set 2 Sound Video 5
Set 2 Sound Video 6
Set 2 Sound Video 7
Set 2 Sound Video 8
Set 2 Sound Video 9
Set 2 Sound Video 10
Set 2 Sound Video 11
Set 2 Sound Video 12
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Set 2 Sound Video 14
Set 2 Sound Video 15
Set 2 Sound Video 16
Set 2 Sound Video 17
Set 2 Sound Video 18
Set 2 Sound Video 19
Set 2 Sound Video 20
Set 2 Sound Video 21
Set 2 Sound Video 22
Set 2 Sound Video 23

Set 3 Sound Videos

Set 3 Sound Video 1
Set 3 Sound Video 2
Set 3 Sound Video 3
Set 3 Sound Video 4
Set 3 Sound Video 5
Set 3 Sound Video 6
Set 3 Sound Video 7
Set 3 Sound Video 8
Set 3 Sound Video 9
Set 3 Sound Video 10
Set 3 Sound Video 11
Set 3 Sound Video 12
Set 3 Sound Video 13
Set 3 Sound Video 14
Set 3 Sound Video 15
Set 3 Sound Video 16
Set 3 Sound Video 17
Set 3 Sound Video 18
Set 3 Sound Video 19
Set 3 Sound Video 20
Set 3 Sound Video 21
Set 3 Sound Video 22
Set 3 Sound Video 23
Set 3 Sound Video 24
Set 3 Sound Video 25
Set 3 Sound Video 26
Set 3 Sound Video 27
Set 3 Sound Video 28
Set 3 Sound Video 29
Set 3 Sound Video 30
Set 3 Sound Video 31
Set 3 Sound Video 32
Set 3 Sound Video 33
Set 3 Sound Video 34

Useful information for parents

Here at St Oswald’s we love to invite parents in to learn more about how we teach reading and give parents and carers the opportunity to read with tehir child supported by our reading leaders and expert teachers. Look out for these events for your child’s year group!

More information can be found on the Ruth Miskin website: – Information and resources to support phonics learning at home