RWI Phonics Information

Our Phonics Intent

Throughout #TheSmawthorneExperience children will access high quality, daily phonics teaching which will equip them with the skills to become successful and confident readers. Children will develop resilience, independence and the ability to apply their skills, with a ‘have a go’ attitude, when faced with unfamiliar words. At SHMPs, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. Through consistent, high quality provision children will foster a love of reading, a thirst for knowledge and become eager learners.


“Teach a child to read and keep that child reading and we will change everything.

And I mean everything.”

Jeanette Winterson


The teaching of Phonics at Smawthorne Henry Moore Primary School

At Smawthorne Henry Moore Primary School, phonics is an important daily lesson in each class from the Nursery through to Year 2, and beyond into KS2 where appropriate. The school follows the ‘Read, Write Inc phonics’ scheme which develops the children’s ability to hear, discriminate, recognise and write the sounds. RWI phonics is primarily for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 who are learning to read. It is also for those older children who need to ‘catch up’ in year 3 and year 4 – those children that have not met the KS1 reading standard. 
Children are grouped according to their stage of reading (not age of reading) and RWI sessions are delivered in these groups. This means all children practice reading at the correct level, following the building blocks in place to become a secure reader. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words.   

Speed sounds Set 1 and Set 2

We teach Set 1 sounds first - (sounds as far as a e i o u). Children need to know the sounds – not letter names – to read words. We teach using pure sounds. We pronounce the sounds clearly, using pure sounds: (‘m’ not’ muh’, ’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.). 

Set 2 sounds are shaded. They are long vowel sounds with 2 or more letters. We call these Special Friends.


Speed Sounds Set 3

Once children know how to securely read Set 1 and 2 sounds, they start to learn Set 3 sounds. These are shaded in the chart. They are alternative graphemes (spelling of a sound) for the Set 1 and Set 2 sounds that the children already know. For example, they know ‘ay’ and now learn 'a-e' and 'ai' as other spellings for the same sound.







Fred Talk and Fred Fingers

Alongside teaching children the individual sounds, they are also taught to blend sounds to read words eg, s-a-t = sat. We use Fred Talk to help children to read words. Fred can only speak in sounds, speaking like Fred encourages and supports children to hear the individual sounds and helps them to understand that words are made up of sounds. For more information on the Fred Talk routine, see the powerpoint below from our RWI parents meeting. 

It is crucial that these reading routines and strategies are embedded in order to develop pupils reading skills and abilities across EYFS, KS1 and beyond. The reading routine:
Special friend > Fred Talk > Read the word


 We use Fred Fingers to help children sound out words to spell easily. It means children do not have to
memorise lists of spellings. It is a tool so they will be able to spell any word. For example, children identify how many sounds they can hear in the word. They then pinch their fingers to check they have the correct number of sounds, before writing them down. For example:
d-o-g = 3 sounds

  sh-o-p = 3 sounds

    s-l-ee-p = 4 sounds

 ch-air = 2 sounds



The children also progress onto reading ‘Red Words’ – also known as tricky words. These are words that the children cannot read by identifying and blending the individual sounds. If they did, they would not make any sense, so they must learn to read them on sight.


Reading links

Phonic work is combined with the school’s structured reading scheme to further develop reading skills, with children accessing books from the RWI reading programme. Children choose from a range of books, inline with their phonics ability, to independently apply and develop their reading ability. As children progress through the RWI programme, the books increase in difficulty to reflect the broad range of phonics knowledge that the children are learning. At the end of the programme, and into KS2, the children progress through other reading books before becoming a 'free reader' where children are able to choose from a selection of texts from the school and class libraries.

'Three with me, Four at home'

Re-reading the same book helps children to become confident and fluent readers. Each time they re-read a text, they build their fluency/speed and comprehension. This is why children are encouraged and supported to read a book several times.

1) The first read focuses on reading every word accurately.

2) The second on reading the story more quickly.

3) The third read on comprehension - understanding what they read.

4) Then your child brings the same book home to read and enjoy with you again and again at home.


In school, we aim to encourage a love of reading and reading for pleasure as well as teaching and supporting phonics knowledge and developing reading skills. Re-reading texts enables and supports children to develop their accuracy and ability to read words independently, this in turn leads to a love of reading as children become fluent, confident readers. 



The reading scheme across school has been developed and as a result children in Upper Key Stage 2 are being challenged through some very demanding texts, including the reading of Shakespeare.

For more information regarding how reading is taught at Smawthorne Henry Moore Primary School, please refer to our Reading Page.

Year 1 Statutory Phonics Screening Check

Every year in June, the Year One pupils take the National Phonic Screening check. The check consists of 20 real words and 20 pseudo-words that a pupil reads aloud to the teacher. Psuedo words, or 'alien-words', are words that that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb, twooch

Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory. Although the check is not treated as a formal test, the children are expected to reach a benchmark level.

At the last Statutory Assessment for Year 1 in June 2023, 76% of our pupils passed the screening check.

In the lead up to this, parents are provided with a preparation pack to support their children in readiness for this assessment and are also invited to attend a meeting to discuss the Phonics screening test. Here, parents are told what to expect from the screening and are given lots of activities and resources to help prepare their children. Our Year 1 teachers will also model a Phonics lesson. This allows parents to see the basic structure of a Phonics lesson and also the teaching methods that we use in our daily sessions.




Phonics in action...











RWI in Reception - Parent meeting



Phonics support materials

RWI in Year 1 - Parent     meeting




RWI in Year 2 - Parent    meeting


What else can you do to help at home?
1. Use pure sounds, not letter names.
2. Speedy sounds flashcards will support children to identify sounds.
3. Use Fred Talk to read and spell words.
4. Practice reading a range of words, real and nonsense words.
5. Listen to your child read their storybook every day, include a range of other reading materials.
6. Read stories to your child every day develop a love of reading.

Online resources that are available for parents and carers:
Ruth Miskin Parents’ Page:

Ruth Miskin Facebook:

Free e books for home reading: 

Reading at Home booklets - support for reading at home with your child


Click on the images below to access QR codes that will take you to a range of RWI sound videos and Fred Talk videos you can watch with your child:

Set 2 and Set 3 sounds

Set 2 and Set 3 Fred Talk