Reading & Phonics


At Crowan Primary School we regard Reading as our highest priority and believe that reading is fundamental to gaining access to areas of knowledge and information. It is crucial that children are helped to develop their independence, self-confidence and motivation to read widely and accurately since success in reading has a direct effect on the progress made in different subjects across the curriculum.

Our Aims

  • To cultivate successful, confident readers who are equipped with a range of strategies with which to decode print and interpret a wide variety of texts.
  • To place understanding and enjoyment at the heart of reading, fostering a delight in literature and a love of books.

Our Objectives

  • To provide a rich and stimulating environment in which children have access to a wide range of books presented in an attractive and inviting way.
  • To encourage and empower parents and carers to participate and share in their child’s reading.
  • To provide individual children with the necessary support to help develop their confidence and independence in reading both for pleasure and purpose.
  • To ensure that there is a consistent and structured approach to the teaching of reading across the school.
  • To ensure there is regular and ongoing assessment to identify individual needs.
  • To provide opportunities for children to hear stories read aloud and to allow them to reflect upon their own experiences and the language of the text.
  • To provide opportunities for children to ask questions about different texts, to re-tell the stories and predict what might happen next.
  • To enable children to develop successful strategies for independently decoding and comprehending their reading.
  • To ensure that children have opportunities to discuss books they have read, to express simple preferences and to compare the writing of different authors.
  • To provide opportunities for children to read their own and other children’s texts aloud to the class.
  • To ensure that children have opportunities to read individually (including reading to themselves), with partners and as part of a small group to reflect upon their reading and to expand their knowledge of different genre.

At Crowan Primary School we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading. Phonics is one of the many skills needed to become a reader and writer.  We regard the teaching of phonics as our highest priority and aim to give children the best possible start on their reading/writing journey by teaching them the essential phonological/phonemic skills and knowledge to decode and encode (spell) words independently from the outset. 

At the point of reading/writing, children will use phonics as their first strategy to read and spell unknown words until it is embedded and automatic for them.  We recognise that the development of spoken language and the enjoyment and comprehension of quality literature go hand in hand to develop a lifelong love of reading and aim to nurture and develop these attributes alongside the phonics program.

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 programme to help 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

At Crowan we now use the Read Write Inc Phonics programme (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their literacy. We have put together a guide to how the RWI programme works, together with some useful links.


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 Crowan we will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support with their reading.

How will RWI be taught?

All children are assessed regularly by our RWI lead teacher so they work with children at the same level. This allows complete participation in lessons.


In Reception all children will learn the simple sounds, how to ‘read’ these 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
  • 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
  • learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write 


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

Year One & Year Two

Children follow the same format as Reception but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last for one hour.  Once children become fluent speedy readers they will move on to the reading comprehension 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, 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.

Set 1




Down Maisie, mountain, mountain.


Around the apple and down the leaf.


Slither down the snake.


Around the dinosaur's bottom, up his tall neck and down to his toes.


Down the tower, across the tower.


Down the body, and dot for the head.


Down Nobby and over his net.


Down the pirate's plait and around his face.


Round the girl's face, down her hair and give her a curl.


All around the orange.


Curl around the caterpillar.


Down the kangaroo's body, tail and leg.


Down and under, up to the top and draw the puddle.


Down the laces to the heel and around the toe.


Down the stem and draw the leaves.


Lift off the top and scoop out the egg.


Down the long leg.


Down the head, to his hooves and over his back.


Slither down the snake, then down the head to his hooves and over his back.


Down the robot's back and curl over his arm.


Down his body, curl and dot for his head.


Down a wing, up a wing.


Down a horn, up a horn and under head.


Down, up, down, up.


Down the tower, across the tower, then down the head to his hooves and over his back




Curl around the caterpillar, , then down the head to his hooves and over his back.


Round her head, up past her earring, down her hair and flick.


Down the arm and leg, repeat the other side


A thing on a string.


I think I stink.


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.


Long  vowel sound

Set 2 Speed Sound cards

Teach these first

Set 3 Speed Sound cards


ay: may I play

a-e: make a cake

ai: snail in the rain


ee: what can you see

ea: cup of tea

e: he me we she be


igh: fly high

i-e: nice smile


ow: blow the snow

o-e: phone home

ao: goat in a boat


oo: poo at the zoo

u-e: huge brute

ew: chew the stew


oo: look at a book




ar: start the car




or: shut the door

aw: yawn at dawn



air: that’s not fair

are: share and care



ir: whirl and twirl

ur: nurse for a purse

er: a better letter


ou: shout it out

ow: brown cow



oy: toy for a boy

oi: spoil the boy




ire: fire fire!




ear: hear with your ear




ure: sure it’s pure?



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. Please see below for further information on the Screening check.


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. We refer to these as sound buttons. The dashes represent digraphs (2 letters that make one sound). We also call these 'special friends.' The reading books contain green and red words for the children to practise at home - please encourage them to do this. 

During the RWI sessions children will read the book three times over the week and at each new reading they will have plenty of opportunities to practise using their developing comprehension skills. 



Children will use first use ‘Fred fingers’ to first sound out a word before they write it down.  Children learn how to spell rather than just get tested. Furthermore, this way of teaching spellings allows children to use Fred fingers whenever they get stuck with spelling a word. Children pinch each sound on fingers before writing the word.


Order of Story books: Children will hopefully follow the order listed below. The expectation is that all children will leave Key Stage One as confident speedy readers, ready to take on the challenges of Key Stage 2.  

Red ditty, green, purple, pink, orange, yellow, blue and grey. 


To help at home:

Your child will start to bring books home when they are confident readers. Please help them to read and give lots of praise!

If you have any other questions about RWI, please see your class teacher or see Miss Phillips.


Phonics Screening Check Year One


What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?

The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.

It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to re-take the check in Year 2 so that schools can track pupils until they are able to decode.

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