English Curriculum: Phonics Reading

The Teaching of Phonics

At Kexborough Primary School we use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc’ produced by Ruth Miskin. Read Write Inc is a method of learning centred around letter sounds and phonics, blending them together to read and write words and using these learnt sounds in their reading and writing. Children are assessed for the Read Write Inc programme from FS2. Whilst accessing Read Write Inc,  children will follow a daily phonic programme to create fluent and enthusiastic readers.

The five key principles that underpin all the teaching in all Read Write Inc. Programmes are:

  • Participation – our teaching strategies ensure that all children participate fully in the whole lesson – there is no chance for children to lose concentration and miss key elements of the teaching
  • Praise – children work together, as partners, taking turns to teach and praise one another and they are motivated by the focused praise they receive from teachers and teaching assistants
  • Pace – a lively pace keeps all the children fully engaged
  • Purpose – teachers know the purpose of every activity and how it leads into the next
  • Passion – it is easy for teachers to be passionate about their teaching because they see their children make such rapid progress.

The children are assessed and grouped according to their ability.  They will work with a teacher or teaching assistant on the Read Write Inc programme.  Approximately every half term, the children will be assessed again and put into new groups.  In addition to the Read Write Inc programme the children will also be working on writing skills in their classes with their own class teacher.

When using RWI to read the children will:

  • learn that sounds are represented by written letters
  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts
  • learn how to blend sounds and read words using Fred Talk.
  • Learn that some tricky words with grotty graphemes can’t be read using Fred Talk – these are Red Words (you can’t Fred a Red)
  • read fun and lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out and show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions and discussing the text


This video gives information about phonics and why the need for a systematic approach.

This video explains pure sounds and gives a demonstration of how these are said.

Phonics Check

Phonics Screening Check

The national phonics screening check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and is a quick and easy check of pupils’ phonics knowledge.

Who is it for?

All Year 1 pupils take the phonics screening check during June. Year 2 pupils who didn’t pass the phonics screening check when they were in Year 1 are given another opportunity to take it in Year 2.

What is in the screening check?

The check comprises of a list of 40 words and nonsense words. It assesses phonics skills and knowledge learnt in reception and Year 1. Pupils read one-to-one with the class teacher and they are asked to sound out a word and blend the sounds together. The check is very similar to the tasks the pupils complete during phonics lessons. In total, the check lasts approximately 10 minutes.

What are nonsense words and why are they used?

These are words that are phonetically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. They are used in the check to assess whether pupils can decode a word using phonic skills and not their memory. The nonsense words are shown to pupils alongside a picture of an alien and they are asked what the alien’s name is – this helps to provide a context for the nonsense word

Since the introduction of the phonics screening check, children have need to achieve 32 / 40 to show that they have reached the expected standard.

Details from gov.uk can be found by clicking the link below

KeyStage 1 Assessment Arrangements

For information, the 2019 Phonics Screening Check can be found by clicking the link below

Phonics Screening

Guided Reading

 Once children have completed the Read Write Inc phonics scheme the teaching and learning of reading is continued through Guided Reading sessions. These sessions happen daily in class between 9:20 and 10:00. Guided reading is an approach which enables the teacher, or teaching assistant, to work with a small group of children to read, think and talk about an unfamiliar text. Children are grouped, by ability, and will focus upon a specific text for a number of weeks which will support them in achieving specific learning objectives. 

When children are not working with an adult they will be completing independent activities which will either continue the learning that was started with an adult or to prepare them for a future focused session with an adult.

Teaching and learning in guided reading is planned based upon the curriculum for each year group.  The documents used by teachers, both to plan and assess learning in guided reading, can be found below.

We teach reading as a whole class and this is completed either through the use of a novel or through age appropriate extracts. Teaching approaches involve reading aloud to the children, paired reading, children reading aloud and independent silent reading. The children will then engage in a variety of written and oral activities to demonstrate their understanding of the texts.