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St Thomas' Church of England
Primary & Nursery School


The Phonics Curriculum at St Thomas'

At St Thomas’ reading is at the heart of everything we do - we value reading as a key life skill and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers.  We believe reading is key for academic success.


In keeping with the broader aims of our Lighthouse curriculum, we carefully plan and deliver a robust and progressive phonics programme to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to become fluent readers. Our aim is to ensure that our pupils are confident and competent readers who choose to read independently for pleasure.


From Reception and into Key Stage 1, we follow the Read Write Inc programme to teach phonics and reading.

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. Thomas', we begin the programme in Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support in their reading.

RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found by clicking the link below:

To visit Oxford Owl (more help for Read Write Inc) go to:

Children are grouped according to their level of development across Reception, Year One and Year Two so they are working with children at the same level, allowing full participation in the lessons.



In Read Write Inc, Fred Frog plays an important role. Fred can only speak in sounds, not whole words. We call this Fred Talk. During lessons, children will hear Fred talking in sounds, for example, h-o-p and the children are motivated to blend the sounds together and understand what Fred is saying. First, we blend oral sounds together with Fred and then we progress to reading the written letters and blending them together to read a word.


The Order of Teaching Sounds


Set 1 Speed Sounds

Set 1 sounds are the initial letter sounds.  They are taught in the following order:

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


Set 2 Speed Sounds

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 and igh as in high.


Set 3 Speed Sounds

When learning their set 3 speed sounds, children are taught that there are more ways in which the same sounds are written e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea.


Using RWI, we make learning to read easy for children because we start by teaching them just one way of reading and writing every sound. Here they are on the Simple Speed Sounds chart we use in class.


We pronounce the sounds clearly, using pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’, ’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds together to make words more easily.

You can watch a video to hear how to pronounce the sounds here:

Parent video: How to say the sounds

Once children know one way of reading and writing every sound, they start to learn spellings for each sound they already know. For example, they know ‘ay’ and now learn a-e and ai as other spellings for the same sound.

Alongside teaching children sounds, we teach them to blend sounds to read words e.g. s-a-t, sat.

Nonsense Words/Alien Words

We want children to be able to apply their knowledge of sounds and decoding skills to read any unfamiliar word, whether it is real or nonsense. During phonics lessons, children will have the opportunity to read real and nonsense words. This shows us that children are using their decoding skills to read words and not relying on existing knowledge of real words. This is an important skill as it forms part of the Year 1 Phonics Screening check, which all Year 1 pupils take in the summer term.


Word Time

Once the children have learned a few initial sounds, they can begin to learn to blend these sounds together to read simple words. During word time, children have the opportunity to blend familiar sounds together to read words. Initially, children do this through the use of Fred Talk then progress to Fred in your head whereby they blend the sounds silently in their heads rather than out loud (as in Fred Talk). Word time sessions also provide an opportunity for children to practise spelling and writing. Children are given a whole word and asked to identify the sounds they need to write the words.  Children will use their Fred Fingers to help them to identify, count and write the sounds they will need.


Story Book Lessons

Once children are reading whole sentences, the next stage for them in the Read Write Inc. scheme is to read the storybooks. Storybooks are closely matched to phonic ability.  All storybooks contain green words linked to the sounds the children have been learning.  Red words (words that are not decodable) and also challenge words which support the children’s developing vocabulary. Children read these storybooks in school with the teacher and in pairs before bringing them home for further practise and consolidation.



All children are assessed at the end of every half term to monitor progress and identify any gaps. Children may change groups following assessment checks if it is deemed that their needs will be better met in another phonics group. Those children not meeting the expected standard are identified and targeted for daily RWI intervention to ensure that no child falls behind. 


Key Stage 1 Phonics Results 

In 2021, 100% of Y2 children passed the Phonics Screening Check in our school which is above the national average. 

Read Write Inc. Phonics: Ruth Miskin on how to teach blending to children

Parent video: Introduction to Daily Read Write Inc. Phonics Lessons

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Kenyons Lane, Lydiate
Liverpool, Merseyside, L31 0BP

Telephone: 0151 531 9955