Early Reading Intent

‘Learning the Words to Learn’

At Fishtoft Academy we believe that the greatest gift we can give our learners is the ability to read and comprehend a rich variety of texts.  Reading opens doors for our learners; allowing them to develop their knowledge of both themselves and the world in which they live; and to develop skills that can be utilised in all walks of life.  Reading is therefore a top priority for our teachers and we put as much time and energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.

Phonics Implementation

At Fishtoft Academy, your child will begin to learn to read by following the ‘Read Write Inc.’ phonics programme; a systematic, lively, inclusive programme for all children learning to read. This is generally a two-year programme for pupils in Reception and Year 1.  However, some children will stay on it into Year 2 and possibly beyond, dependent upon their individual circumstances and needs.

Read, Write Inc. is a rapid ‘learn to read’ programme which is focused on enabling children to ‘learn to read’ in order that they can ‘read to learn’ for the rest of their lives.

Phonics is delivered daily to our learners by both class teachers and other trained members of our support staff team.  From the end of the first half term in EYFS, learners are grouped into small homogenous groups for phonics teaching.  Grouping according to their stage of phonic development, ensures that the teaching is closely matched to their developmental needs, meaning that all learners are appropriately challenged.  Our Reading Leader oversees assessment, assessing the children each half term and then re-grouping them accordingly.

Our Reading Leader also monitors daily lessons to ensure the programme is taught with fidelity and to ensure that the work is well-matched to the learner’s needs. In addition, regular staff training ensures staff are kept up to date with developments in the programme.

What does it look like?

During RWInc sessions, our learners learn:

  • To read the 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups that form these, using simple picture prompts.
  • To read words using ‘Fred Talk’ and sound blending
  • To read a range of storybooks and non-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • To develop comprehension skills in texts by answering ‘Find It’ and ‘Prove It’ discussion questions
  • To write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
  • To write words using ‘Fred Talk’ (applying their knowledge of sounds)
  • To build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write

What are pure sounds?

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.

The following video will show you how each of the sounds are pronounced in their ‘pure’ form:

Are the sounds taught in a particular order?

In Read Write inc phonics the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ – because we want your child to read them effortlessly. Set 1 sounds are the initial letter sounds. They are taught in the following order.

Set 1 speed 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

When writing the letter sounds, learners use a picture and a phrase to help form the letters correctly.

e.g. M – Maisie, mountain, mountain

Set 2 speed sounds

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

There are 12 Set 2 ‘speed sounds’ that are made up of two or three letters which represent just one sound, e.g. ay as in play, ee as in tree and igh as in high.

When children learn their Set 2 sounds they will learn:

  • the letters that represent a speed sound e.g. ay
  • a simple picture prompt linked to the ‘speed sound’ and a short phrase to say e.g. may I play
  • We call these 2/3 letter sounds that go together ‘special friends’

Every speed sound has a list of green words linked to it, so your child can ‘Fred Talk’ (sound out) and blend words containing the new speed sound they have just learnt.  For example: Fred talk ‘s-p-r-ay’ = spray.

Vowel soundSet 2 Speed Sound RhymeGreen words (decodable)
ayay: may I playday play say may way spray
eeee: what can you see?See been seen sleep three green
ighigh: fly highhigh might light bright night fright
owow: blow the snowsnow slow know show blow low
oooo: poo at the zootoo zoo food pool moon spoon
oooo: look at a booktook shook cook foot look book
arar: start the carstar part hard sharp car start
oror: shut the doorsort short snort horse sport fork
airair: that’s not fairfair stair hair air lair chair
irir: whirl and twirlgirl third whirl twirl dirt bird
ouou: shout it outout mouth round found loud shout
oyoy: toy for a boytoy boy enjoy

Set 3 speed sounds

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

When learning their Set 3 speed sounds learners will be taught that there are more ways in which the same sounds are written, e.g. ‘ee’ as in tree and ‘ea’ as in tea.

Vowel soundSet 3 Speed Sound RhymeGreen words (decodable)
a-ea-e: make a cakeshake make cake name same late date
eaea: cup of teareal please dream seat cream
i-ei-e: nice smilehide shine white nice time like smile
o-eo-e: phone homehope home phone spoke note broke
u-eu-e: huge brutetune use June  huge brute
awaw: yawn at dawnsaw paw yawn law dawn crawl
areare: care and shareshare dare scare square bare
urur: nurse with a purseburn turn spurt nurse purse hurt
owow: brown cowhow now down brown town cow
oioi: spoil the boyjoin coin voice
aiai: snail in the rainsnail paid tail paint train rain
ee: he me she wehe me she we be
oaoa: goat in a boatgoat boat road throat toast coat
ewew: chew the stewchew new flew blew drew grew
erer: better letternever better weather proper corner after
ireire: fire firefire hire wire bonfire inspire conspire
earoar: hear with your earhear fear dear near ear
ureure: sure it’s purePure sure cure picture mixture creature future

What is Fred Talk?

Fred the frog puppet plays an important role in our Read Write Inc lessons. Fred is only able to speak in sounds, not whole words. We call this Fred Talk. For example, Fred would say ‘m-a –t’ we would say ‘mat’.

As soon as our learners have secured a few initial letter sounds, they begin to learn to blend the sounds together to read real words in a Word Time session. Each word time session involves the oral blending of known sounds before they are shown the words in their written form.

Fred talk (sound talking) helps our learners to read words by pronouncing each sound in the word in order. During lessons they are first are taught to hear sounds and then to blend them together in sequence to make a word orally. They then progress to reading the letters and blending them together to read words.

The following video is an example of blending sounds with Fred:

In Word Time sessions we use sound cards and then green cards with dots and dashes to help our learners to ‘see’ the sounds within the words until they can read the words without them.  Dots and dashes represent the sound each letter (dot) or letters (dash) makes.

Sounds made by more than one letter are known as ‘special friends’.

Follow the link below to see an example of a Word Time Session:

When are books introduced?

Once learners become confident at reading single words, they are then introduced to reading whole sentences in the form of ‘Ditties’.  These are short storybooks which learners use their sound-blending knowledge to read. As their knowledge of sounds and ability to read words grows, they will then progress through the different coloured-stages of phonics books.

Progression Expectations:

Sounds ASounds BSounds


EYFS end of Autumn Term


EYFS end of Spring Term


EYFS End of Summer Term



Y1 End of Autumn Term



Y1 End of Spring Term


Y1 End of Summer Term



Y2 End of Autumn Term


Please note: The above chart is provided as guidance only.

What are red words?

Within all of the RWInc books the children will read there will be red and green words. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.  This means they can be read using ‘Fred Talk’.  Red words are words that are not easily decodable.  This means that they cannot be split up into sounds.  In RWInc sessions we remind our learners that, ‘You can’t Fred a red!’  In some books there are also challenge words, designed to extend children’s vocabulary.

What are nonsense (alien) words?

As our learners build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word (real or nonsense). During lessons each day children will practice their decoding (reading) skills by sounding out real and nonsense (sometimes referred to as alien) words.  This is an important skill as when learners are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words, they have to use their letter-sound knowledge to decode unknown ones. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Test children complete at the end of year 1.

What are ‘Fred Fingers’?

Once confident at reading words and sentences, learners are then challenged to write words and sentences using the sounds that they know.  Learners are taught to use their fingers to help them write words. This is known as ‘Fred Fingers’.  When spelling, learners 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 then pinch each finger as they say the sounds needed in the word, before they then they write the letters that represent each sound.

How can I support my child with reading at home?

In order to help your child with reading at home please:

  • Read as many stories to your child as you can
  • Talk about the stories
  • Explain the meaning of new words
  • Most importantly though, show the fun that can be gained by listening to stories

We hold special phonics workshops at a variety of points across the year, whereby you can experience first-hand how phonics is taught in school and receive resources to help you support reading at home.

What reading books are sent home?

When our learners first start school, they are issued with a set of speed sounds cards to practice at home.  Each week a high-quality picture book is also sent home for sharing / discussion.  This continues until pupils reach ‘Ditty’ level of the RWInc. programme when individual reading books are introduced.

Learners who are on the RWInc phonics program at Ditty level or above take home a decodable RWInc book each week linked directly to their stage of phonic development.  However, learners will also take home an additional book known as a ‘book for sharing’ (indicated by the sticker on the front cover).  These are designed to be read together (not independently) as they provide a very high level of challenge and may contain some sounds which our leaners have not yet learnt.

Once our pupils reach the upper levels of Read, Write, Inc. and begin to exit the programme, they join the Star Reader Program.  More information on this can be found under the ‘Reading beyond phonics’ page of the website.