Reading and Phonics

At Bishop Martin, we believe that learning to read is one of the most important skills we can learn. We know that reading opens that door to every other subject and gives children the best start in life. Bishop Martin are following the Read Write Inc Programme to teach Phonics and Reading. This programme, starts in the first few weeks of Reception and continues until the children are confident and fluent readers. In the RWI sessions, children will become very familiar with Fred. Fred is a toy frog who can only talk in sounds. We encourage the children to listen to ‘Fred Talk’ to hear the distinct sounds in each word. For example, Fred would say c-a-t and we would say cat, Fred would say sh-i-p and the children would say ship. As soon as the children know a small group of sounds then they start to blend. The children begin by blending oral sounds and then progress onto reading the letters and blending them together to read the word.

The Order of Teaching Sounds

In Read Write Inc Phonics, the individual sounds are called ‘Speed Sounds’ – because we want your child to read them effortlessly. Click on the link to the Read Write Inc video demonstrating the pure 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 (digraphs / trigraphs) e.g. ay as in play, ee as in tree and igh as in high.

There will be a simple picture prompt linked to the ‘speed sound’ and a short phrase to say e.g. may I play. 

Every speed sound has a list of green words linked to it, so your child can ‘sound out’ and ‘sound blend’ words containing the new speed sound they have just learnt, for example s-p-r-ay = spray.

Set 3 Speed Sounds

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

 Nonsense Words/Alien Words

As children develop their skills, we want them to be able to apply their knowledge of sounds and decoding skills to read any unfamiliar word, whether it is real or nonsense.  During lessons, children will have opportunities to practice their decoding skills by sounding out the letters in an ‘Alien word’.  This shows us that children are using their decoding skills and not relying on existing knowledge of real words.  This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Test which children complete at the end of Year 1.

Word Time Lessons 

Once the children have learned a few initial sounds, they can begin to learn to blend the sounds together to read real words.  Each word time session involves oral blending of the sounds the children have learned and know.  The children are then shown the words written down on the green cards.  Children have opportunities to practice Fred talking the words until they become able to read them on sight.  Ditty lessons following on from this, the children go from reading single words to whole sentences.   

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.  These storybooks are closely matched to their developing phonic knowledge.  All storybooks consist of 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.  The children practise these words individually and then can apply this knowledge when seeing them in the context of a story. The children are given three opportunities to read this book in school. The first read we are focusing on accuracy, the second read we are focusing on fluency and for the third read the children need to read in their best Storyteller voice!

Spelling with Fred Fingers

Children are taught to use their fingers to help them write words.  Children will say a word out loud and then break it down into its individual sounds using their fingers.  So, if a word has three sounds in like dog, d-o-g or ship, sh-i-p the child will hold up three fingers.  If the word has four sounds in, the child will hold up four fingers.  The children then ‘pinch’ each finger as they say the sounds they need in the word.  This supports them when writing words as they write a letter that represents each sound. 

Letter formation

Children are taught how to form the letters using a handwriting phrase to help them. For example, for the letter a, the children will learn the phrase, ‘around the apple and down the leaf’. Please see the additional document to see how the children are taught to form the letters. 


Children are regularly assessed and changed accordingly into groups to support their learning and development. For year one children, they complete the weekly Phonics quizzes based on the sounds that they are practising in school each week.

Phonics Screen Check 

In Key Stage 1, children are assessed at the end of Year 1 using a Government Statutory Assessment Tool known as the Phonics Screening Check  This screening check, demonstrates if your child can use their skills to decode words to an appropriate standard. 

 Information for families

Click on the link below, which will give you give you more information about Read Write Inc.  There are a selection of videos that you can watch.

 There are weekly links on Tapestry and Seesaw to RWI virtual lessons so you can follow what your child is doing in school.

Fresh Start in KS2

At Bishop Martin we use the Fresh Start programme developed by Ruth Miskin for older readers who would benefit from phonics teaching. Fresh Start teaches older readers to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. It is rooted in phonics and uses age - appropriate decodable texts. Children learn the English alphabetic code: the 150+ graphemes that represent 44 speech sounds. This allows children to build on prior knowledge from Key Stage One. Children accessing Fresh Start experience success from the very beginning. As the children re-read the texts, their fluency increases.

Children are taught individually or in small groups. The sessions last for approximately 20-25 minutes.


KS1 Phonics Results

In 2019, 97% of Y1 children passed the Phonics Screening Check in our school which is above the national average.

In 2021, 97% of Y1 children passed the Phonics Screening Check in our school which is above the national average.

In 2022, 97% of Y1 children passed the Phonics Screening Check in our school which is above the national average.

In 2023, 90% of Y1 children passed the Phonics Screening Check in our school which is above the national average.






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