close arrow-right twitter
School Logo

Leiston Primary School

Approach to Phonics

***For information and links for parents, please scroll to the bottom of the page***



“Teach a child to read and keep that child reading and we will change everything. And I mean everything” Jean Winterson.


At Leiston Primary School we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We want children to learn to read quickly and accurately and to then keep on reading. Our goal is for children to see reading not only as a task set by teachers in school but as an activity which provides pleasure and escape from the modern world.

We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds, as well as building letter and word recognition. This can then enable children to use unknown words in the future. We teach in this way because, research shows that, when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. According to the DfE (Department for Education), ‘almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics, will learn the skills they need to tackle new words’. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.


At Leiston, we use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc’ produced by Ruth Miskin. Read Write Inc is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge.


Nursery Phonics-

Phonics begins in the nursery. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase especially, we plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read high quality books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration. In the summer term before they enter reception, children in Nursery will begin to learn some letter sounds if they are developmentally ready.

Reception Phonics-

In Reception, the children will receive daily phonics lessons in groups tailored to their ability. Children are introduced to new letter sounds and will work their way through Set 1 and Set 2 phonics sounds throughout the course of the year. Some may even start learning Set 3 if they are ready. In each phonics session children will have lots of opportunities to practise reading and writing their sounds and the emphasis is on children’s active participation. They also learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play.


Key Stage One Phonics-

During Year 1, daily phonics lessons will continue to be taught in groups tailored to children’s reading and writing ability. The children will work through the Set 1, 2 and 3 sounds of the Read Write Inc programme, revisiting and practising sounds where necessary to ensure learning is fully embedded. They will practise reading a lot of real and ‘nonsense’ words to prepare them for the phonics screening test at the end of Year 1.

In Year 2, children will revise their phonics learning for the first few weeks of term to ensure they have remembered previous learning from Year 1. They will revisit difficult areas indicated by teacher assessment and may continue a daily phonics intervention programme if necessary.


Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1. Teachers also complete regular Read Write Inc assessments and plot children onto a tracking grid, which ensures children are grouped appropriately in phonics.


Phonics screening data:





Yr 1 pass

  • 81%

  • 75%

  • 81%

Yr 2 resit

  • 44%

  • 57%

  • 42%

Total by the end of year 2

  • 85%

  • 90%

  • 83%


How Read Write Inc is taught

Read Write Inc. phonics teaches children the sound/sounds that individual or groups of letters make. They can then use these letter sounds to sound out words to read or sound out words to write. Letter sounds are taught in 3 different sets which build up from easier to more complex sounds. Reception are expected to know Set 1 and 2 by the end of the year and Year 1 must know all 3 sets by the end of year 1.



Key vocabulary that your child might use when talking about phonics


What is Fred Talk?

Fred is a little frog that can only speak in sounds, not whole words. He helps us learn to blend sounds together to form words. He says ‘m-a-t’ and we say ‘mat’.

When we teach a sound with Read Write Inc. Phonics, we either ‘bounce’ (e.g. c-c-c, b-b-b, p-p-p) or ‘stretch’ them (e.g. lll, mmm, nnn, fff) when we say them out loud.

This is Fred!


What are Fred Fingers?

We use ‘Fred Fingers’ to recognise how many sounds are in a word.  This helps us to break down the word into the sounds, so that we can spell it accurately

We pinch the sounds on our ‘Fred Fingers’ by touching each finger on one hand as we say each sound in a word. Follow the steps below to practice spelling words using Fred Fingers

  • Say the word and ask your child to repeat the word- e.g. mat.
  • Ask your child to show you how many sounds are in the word ____ using their Fred Fingers (you can tell them this if they are unsure).
  • Say the word again and pinch the sounds with your child e.g. mat, m-a-t.
  • Now ask your child to write the word as they say the sounds. Ask them to underline any diagraphs in the word (2 letters which make one sound such as oa). Write the word yourself and ask your child to check their spelling of each sound by ticking them.


Graphemes, digraphs, trigraphs and split digraphs:

As complicated as these all sound, they are really quite simple.

grapheme- a way of writing down a sound (which we call a phoneme). For example dog is made from d- o -g, three different graphemes for 3 different sounds.

digraph- Is when we have two letters which join together to make one sound. For example 'oo' in look is one sound, 'ch' in chin is one sound. 

trigraph- Is when we have three letters which join together to make one sound. For example 'air' in fair, or 'igh' as in right

split digraph- Possibly the most complex one. This is when there are two letters which make one sound but they are seperated by another letter. For example in the word 'make' the 'a' and the 'e' make one sound together 'a-e'. Or in the word 'phone' the 'o' and the 'e' make one sound which is 'o-e'.


Green Words:

During our Read Write Inc sessions we practise our reading skills by reading ‘Green Words’. These are words that are decodable because they only contain sounds that your child will be able to recognise. The children have met Fred during our sessions. Fred is a frog who can not read words as we can but says everything in sounds, or ‘Fred Talk’.

The children know to sound out or ‘Fred Talk’ each sound whilst pointing underneath the letters, then to blend the sounds to make the word. If your child knows them on sight they can read them without sounding out and this is an important progression in their reading.


Red Words

In the Read Write Inc. scheme ‘red words’ are used to help the children recognise the fact that there are words that are tricky to read because you can not sound them out in the normal way. With your child, look for the parts of each word that they can sound out normally and then identify the parts that are tricky! Your child needs to be able to read these words on sight.


For more information visit the RWI website at:



All about the phonics screening 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 confirms whether the child has learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard and will identify sounds needing further consolidation in Year 2. Class teachers will send work for this home as appropriate. Please speak to your class teacher about ways to support your child with this at home.


Visit this site for all the previous phonics test words. Your child can practise on the laptop/computer or you can print the words out for them to dot and dash.


Visit this site to play buried treasure, picnic on pluto or dragons den. Choose the sound(s) you want to work on and click play. Your child will be given a word. They must find the special friends, sound it out and blend it. They then sort it into ‘real word’ or ‘nonsense word’.

Visit this site to play a game similar to buried treasure. Click on phase 3, 4 and 5 words.

Teach your monster to read. This game it completely free on a computer, you choose the level appropriate for your child (most year ones are on champion reader- ask your class teacher if you are unsure). This game is really helpful for consolidating sounds if your child needs it.




Useful links and games for parents:


Fred Frog games:

Lots of videos and games to help with recognising letters and reading:

Sounds/letters drift by on bubbles and your child has to pop the matching sound!:

Letters and sounds initial sound game - this game lets your child reveal a sound/letter and then try to find the picture that starts with the same sound:

Loads of spelling games:

This game allows your child to listen to the sounds in a word and to pick the correct letter. Then they can see what word they have made with all of the sounds together:

Several free games to play that will help your child with their blending and segmenting.:

For free reading books: