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Phonics & Spelling

At Five Spires Academy, we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading.

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:Phonics image 1

  • Read Write Inc., a program to help to 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

What is Read Write Inc.?

Read Write Inc. (RWI) is an accredited phonics 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. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.

Click to view - What is Read Write Inc? Parent Video

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How will RWI be taught?

Phonics image 3Read Write Inc is taught every day in school to ensure every child makes rapid progress. All children are assessed regularly and grouped according to their ability. Small group phonics lessons are taught by trained staff and there are consistent expectations across the range of abilities. At the end of each half term the children are assessed to check on their progress and regrouped.

Nursery & Reception

When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short five-minute sessions.

In Reception all children will learn how to ‘read’ the 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
• Learn to read words using Fred talk and sound blending
• Read from a range of storybooks and non-fiction 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 can do the following:

• Answer every question
• Practise every activity with their partner
• Take turns in talking and reading to each other
• Develop ambitious vocabulary

Progressing through the stages

Children follow the same format as Early Years but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last up to one hour (30 minutes in Reception). Once children become fluent and speedy readers, they will move on to the RWI Spelling programme which is followed through the rest of the school.

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:

Below are the sounds we use to speak in English. Children initially begin using pictures for each sound which will help them to first recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound. 

Fred Talk

Phonics image 4We 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’.

Fred can only say the sounds in a word and needs your child to help him read the word. Fred will say the sounds and children will work out the word. For example, Fred will say the sounds c–a–t, and children will say the word cat.

This is Fred Talk: sounding out the word.


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. At this stage we do not use the letter names.

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 which are alternative ways of making the set 2 Sounds.

Alternative sound taught as a 'red' word, for example: he, me, we, she, be

Nonsense words (Alien words): What ‘a load’ of nonsense!   

As well as learning to read and blend real words, children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills when reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily
in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term.  The words provide endless
opportunities for children to apply and practice their thinking in a range of different contexts. 

Step 3:

Within all the RWI sessions/books children will be exposed to 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.

During the RWI session children will read the book three times and at each new reading they will have plenty of opportunities to practise using their developing comprehension skills. You may hear your child talking about ‘hold, edit or build a sentence’.

Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation.

Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence to that shows the meaning of a word and edit a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling punctuation and grammar. Children complete a longer piece of independent writing, which gives them the opportunity to show off their creativity and to practice their spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

How to help at home:

Your child will start to bring books home when they are confident readers, relating to their reading stage. You will find they will bring home a phonics-based book, this will aid application, speed and fluency: developing speedy reading!  They will also bring a ‘book bag’ book which will begin to enrich their reading and will require decoding skills as it will be new to them – though the sounds will not be.
In addition, your child can choose a ‘share a story’ book which you can read with / to your child. This book may have sounds that they have not learnt yet, so we do not expect them to read these. Once they are fluent and confident readers, children will bring home a wider range and choice of books.

Useful Video Links for Parents:

Phonics image 5Click to view - How to say the phonic sounds video

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Click to view - Listening to your child read video

Useful websites for Parents:

Read Write Inc Parent Guide - Phonics Phonics Play   Phonics Bloom - Phonics Games for the Classroom and Home   Phonics - letter sounds - Early years English - BBC Bitesize  BBC iPlayer - CBeebies Bedtime Stories

Spelling at Five Spires Academy

Read Write Inc. Spelling

Phonics image 7At Five Spires Academy, we use the Read Write Inc. Spelling scheme from Year 2 to Year 6. Year 1 have a tailored spelling scheme which is based around the same concept as the Read Write Inc. Spelling scheme.

Read Write Inc. Spelling is a 15 / 20 -minute-a-day programme for Years 2 to 6. The programme runs on a two-week cycle per unit, consisting of four sessions per week (eight in total per unit)

Using a proven approach underpinned by phonics, fast–paced lessons and an online subscription, Read Write Inc. Spelling prepares children for the higher demands of the statutory spelling assessments in England.

How does each unit run?

Each session begins with a speed sound quick recall.

Session one: focuses on a rapid recall of the previous units spelling to consolidate their
learning. This session then introduces the new sound / spelling rule for the unit through a
short video. This is then followed with a spelling zone activity.

Session two: Dots and Dashes activity

Session three: Rapid Recap and Word Changers activity (focussing on prefixes and suffixes)

Session four: Words to log and learn

  • Children to look through last two activities (dots and dashes and word changers) 
  • Children to pick 6 tricky words and circle the tricky part of the word 
  • Children to discuss why they are tricky and come up with strategies to remember them, e.g., rapping, mnemonic, giving it character, say it how it is 
  • Log the words in books

Session five: Dictation (Partner work – Children read sentences to each other, and peer
assess each other’s spellings)

Session six: Four in row (A game that tests spellings that the children play against each

Session seven: Choose the right word (Teaching children how to apply spellings into
contexts) and Team Teach (Children test each other on the units spellings)

Session eight: Spelling check

The aim of Read Write Inc. Spelling is to ensure spelling success for children who are fluent readers.