Phonics & Early Reading 

Our Reading Intent 

At Fishtoft Academy we recognise that the greatest gift we can give to our learners is the ability to read and comprehend a rich variety of texts. Mastering the phonetic code early will allow our learners to access the full curriculum and build knowledge for themselves.  Reading is a vital skill that supports children’s learning across the whole curriculum.  

As a school, we committed to ensuring that our learners are taught to read with fluency, accuracy and understanding through a variety of discreet and cross-curricular learning opportunities. We want children in our school to become enthusiastic, independent and fluent readers. Yet most of all, we want our learners to enjoy reading. 

How is phonics taught at Fishtoft Academy? 

Fishtoft Academy’s chosen phonics programme is Read Write Inc phonics. 

Read Write Inc (A Government approved synthetic phonics scheme) is a systematic approach to teaching and developing early reading. As part of this our learners are immersed in an environment which is rich in sounds and vocabulary right from their first day in Reception.  

Throughout the Read Write Inc programme, children learn the English alphabetic code: the 150+ graphemes (letters or groups of letters) that represent each of the 44 speech sounds. They learn the sounds and the letter, or groups of letters, they need to represent them in the first section of their daily phonics lessons. The sounds they learn are divided into three sets: Set 1, Set 2 and Set 3.  Simple and enjoyable mnemonics help all children to grasp the letter-sound correspondences quickly. This learning is taught and consolidated every day. High frequency words that are not phonically regular are taught as ‘tricky’ words (we call these Red Words) and are also practised frequently.   

Clickhereto see the Read Write Inc sounds and the order in which they are taught. 

Click here to see the Read Write Inc Speedy Green Word Overview.

Click here to see the Read Write Inc Red Words.  

Click here to see the Read Write Inc letter formation mnemonics. 

What happens in Reception class? 

As children progress through EYFS they will learn all of the 44 sounds and the corresponding letter groups. Initially, pupils will learn Set One letter sounds and their matching graphemes. Once the first 10 of these are secured, they will be explicitly taught the skill of oral blending using a strategy called ‘Fred Talk’ and ‘blend’ – which is vital for the initial stages of early reading. For example, the teacher would ‘Fred Talk’ the word fox by breaking it down into the sounds ‘f-o-x’ and would then model how to ‘blend’ the sounds into the word ‘fox’.  

Once oral blending is mastered, children will rapidly progress to segmenting (splitting up written words into sounds) and blending these sounds together to help them read CV and CVC words.     

Once learners in Reception class have learnt their Set 1 Speed Sounds and can blend words made up of these sounds, they will then start to read short stories known as ‘Ditties’, before moving onto Red Ditty Books and then RW Inc. storybooks.  These stories are colour-banded as shown below:  

The above lively phonics books are closely matched to the children’s increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words so that, early on, they experience plenty of success. A thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud, and discussions help children comprehend what they are reading.  

Repeated readings of the texts support not only their increasing fluency when decoding, but their comprehension of the texts read. Children read each story three times. On the first read, children focus on accurate word reading; the second, on developing fluency; and the third, on comprehension. Fluency and comprehension increase with each repeated reading.   

Our learners will continue to develop and apply their sound knowledge throughout Key Stage 1 until such a point as they complete the RW Inc programme.  

Our children love the consistent and systematic approach to teaching and learning, and look forward to their daily lesson of Read, Write, Inc with Fred the Frog!  

How will I know how well my child is progressing? 

All pupils in Reception and Key Stage 1 are assessed each half term by the Phonics Reading Leader. 

Children are assessed on:  

  • Their sound knowledge  
  • Their ability to read words featuring sounds that they know   
  • The fluency at which they can read speedy read words from the level of storybook they are reading  

The children are then put into groups based on their reading ability and phonic knowledge. Ongoing assessment means that groups are constantly adjusted to ensure the best progress for each learner.  

What are the expectations of progress? 

The following table shows you the progress learners are expected to make through the Read Write Inc. programme from Reception to Year 2. 

Please remember that all children will progress at different rates as no two learners are alike.  However, if we find that a child is in need of additional support, timely intervention will be put in place to ensure that they ‘keep up’ as opposed to needing to ‘catch up’. We will also talk with you as your child’s first educator in order that you know how you can help at home. 

What happens when my child completes RW Inc.? 

Once learners have completed the Grey Storybooks (usually at the end of the Summer term in Y1 or the Autumn term in Year 2) they will still review and revise their sound knowledge regularly as part of our academy’s spelling programme: Ruth Miskin Spelling. They will also take part in daily guided reading sessions. 

What is Guided Reading? 

Guided Reading is taught separately to phonics and more information about this part of our reading journey can be accessed here.  

What about reading at home? 

Reinforcing children’s classroom learning with reading at home is a vital part of ensuring their success at school.   

Read Write Inc. Phonics Book Bag Books are engaging texts which support children with additional reading practice outside the classroom. The books are uniquely matched to the existing Read Write Inc. Phonics Storybooks they read as part of their phonics lessons to reinforce children’s learning of phonics at the appropriate level, helping them to make even faster progress in reading.  

Level  Home Reading  
Sounds A  A lilac book (wordless book)*  

& Daily practice of speed sounds using the pack of cards provided.  

Sounds B  A lilac book (wordless book)*  

& Daily practice of speed sounds using the pack of cards provided.  

Sounds C  Sound Blending Book with 3 & 4 letter words to practice reading at home  

Daily practice of speed sounds using the pack of cards provided.  

Ditty Photocopy Masters  Sound Blending Book with 3 & 4 letter words to practice reading at home  

A printed Home Ditty Story  

Red Ditty  A copy of the Red Ditty Book they have been reading in class  

& a Red Ditty Book Bag Book  

Green   A copy of the Green Book they have been reading in class  

& a Green Book Bag Book  

Purple  A copy of the Purple Book they have been reading in class  

& a Purple Book Bag Book  

Pink  A copy of the Pink Book they have been reading in class  

& a Pink Book Bag Book  

Orange  A copy of the Orange Book they have been reading in class  

& an Orange Book Bag Book  

Yellow  A copy of the Yellow Book they have been reading in class  

& a Yellow Book Bag Book  

Blue  A copy of the Blue Book they have been reading in class  

& a Blue Book Bag Book  

Grey  A copy of the Grey Book they have been reading in class  

& a Grey Book Bag Book  

Completed RW Inc.  Once your child has completed Read, Write, Inc. phonics, they will join our Star Reader programme and select from a range of specially banded books in the school library.  You can find out more about Star Reader here 

Please note: Book Bag Books are swapped once a week as they are matched to the books read in their phonics sessions, which change weekly.  

*Lilac level books are wordless books that tell a story through pictures alone. They help children to develop speaking and listening skills through creating and telling stories.  

You can watch a short video about the benefits of Lilac Books and how to use them with your child below: 

What is the Phonics Screening Check? 

In the Summer term of Year 1 all pupils complete the National Phonics Screening Check. The screening check comprises a list of 40 words, some of which are real and some which are nonsense-words (pseudo words), designed to check that your child has age-appropriate phonics skills and is ‘on track’ to become a successful reader. Your child will read each word on a one-to-one basis with a teacher who they know. Including pseudo words allows teachers to assess a child’s ability to segment and blend words to read them. As pseudo-words are new to all children, they do not favour those with a good vocabulary knowledge or large sight word memory.  Here is an example of a pseudo word:  


Remember, in many ways all words are like pseudo words when you first come across them!  

The words in the screening incorporate phonics skills acquired by the children in both Year 1 and Reception. It is conducted in a quiet room without distractions. The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) release a new check each academic year.  

The national threshold of achievement in the phonics screening check is usually 80% or 32/40 words.  However, this can change each year. Those children in Year 1 who do not meet the assessment threshold will receive additional support and then complete the screening again during the Summer term of Year 2.  

In order for your child to become comfortable with the process, he/she will take part in practice checks throughout the year and will practice pseudo words daily during his/her Read Write Inc lesson.  

What if I still have some questions? 

For further information about the teaching of Read Write Inc and for advice on how you can support your child at home, you can watch parent/carer tutorials by following this link:  

Read, Write, Inc Information for parents/carers 

You can also talk to your child’s class teacher or contact the school office to arrange an appointment with our Reading Leader.